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E-Series Vans Technical discussion of topics related to vans powered by any of the Navistar engines. This covers a broad number of years, but there isn't enough demand to split it any further.

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Old 02-05-2005, 05:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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HELP - How do I change front shocks?

I have a 2003 E-250 (I understand its not a diesel... but the 350s *should be the same*) and I'm in the process of installing four Gabriel Max Control shocks.

The rears are finished - it was not easy, but we got it done.

The front passenger shock isn't a problem... but the front driver shock seems to be impossible.

The top mount is blocked by the floorpan and spring plate. How did you guys swap it out???

I was so anxious to take a test drive today but it's a no go.

I'm thinking about buying 90* swivel U-Joints for a special ratchet I have, but any tips/ideas would be helpful. Thanks
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Old 02-07-2005, 09:41 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: HELP - How do I change front shocks?

Yeah, it's a PITA. I believe you can only use an open-end wrench on the top nut and work a half turn at a time (or less). Make sure you like your shocks cause you won't wanna change them often... unless you get someone else to do it (like I did)!
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Old 02-07-2005, 09:57 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: HELP - How do I change front shocks?

Well...you can do like I did. Find a repair shop that has burned you in the past, then get a price up front. Make them stick to it when you pick up the van, no matter how much they cuss... [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

Ahhh...revenge can be sweet.
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Old 02-07-2005, 11:32 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: HELP - How do I change front shocks?

Try to find those ratcheting wrenches at sears. They work well in this instance. Either that or use the O-ratchet, but i don't think they make that anymore.
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Old 02-07-2005, 11:42 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: HELP - How do I change front shocks?

I have all of the special tools but nothing fits in there.

If the guy with the 2001 E-series said it was possible, then I think Ford might have changed the floorpan for the 2002-up models.
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Old 02-07-2005, 10:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: HELP - How do I change front shocks?

[img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shrug.gif[/img]

Well it's gotta come out of there somehow. It got in there somehow [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shocked.gif[/img]
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Old 02-08-2005, 04:02 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: HELP - How do I change front shocks?

It's body on frame, so they most likely built the chassis/frame first, and installed the shocks. Then the body fits over everything... [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]
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Old 02-08-2005, 08:26 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: HELP - How do I change front shocks?

Front drivers side is the worst. I put shocks on my 93 E-350, 92 E-150 and 03 E-350. Clearance is about the same for all, your correct the E-250 is similar. The box end of a combination wrench is the only thing I found that will get on there. The best access is from underneath the van. If you are underneath on the drivers side, go over the frame from the rear of the van,arm going up between the frame and the engine.Once your on, the open end of the wrench will be pointing to the rear of the van.With the front being 12 o'clock, the open end has a swing roughly from 4- 7 o'clock. Spray some PB Blaster or equivalent on the stud. My three vans all had rear AC and heat and the lines run along the frame making it tighter still. With a cargo van you should have more room. With the wrench on there, you should be able to turn the big nut on the shock body until the box wrench on the small nut locks against the frame or body.Look out for brake or other lines. On my 93 the wrench locked against an AC line kinking it slightly. Once the small nut is broken loose, you can probably get a gear wrench on it to speed up the nut removal, again from underneath. Another tip, compress the new shock( I used HD zip ties to hold it) and install the stud in the frame mount loosely.Cut the zip ties and as the shock comes down slide it onto the stud on the radius arm.Hope that helps.
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Old 02-09-2005, 01:15 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: HELP - How do I change front shocks?

Also what i found to make the install easier, was jack up the frame, right behind where the bumper attatches, that will let the frame lift and let the suspension lower to it's max, that will allow the shock to go on without having to compress it as much. My shocks didn't come with tie wraps and i could hardly compress them to even get a tie wrap on them, so i did what i said.
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Old 02-11-2005, 09:27 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: HELP - How do I change front shocks?

[ QUOTE ]
I have all of the special tools but nothing fits in there.

If the guy with the 2001 E-series said it was possible, then I think Ford might have changed the floorpan for the 2002-up models.

[/ QUOTE ]

Well, you could always <shudder> let your local dealer do it....!
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Old 02-11-2005, 09:33 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: HELP - How do I change front shocks?

haha!!!

After messing around with the mount some more, I found an easy way to slip in a box ended wrench. I should have it out this weekend when I have some time!

-Charlie
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Old 02-12-2005, 04:25 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: HELP - How do I change front shocks?

I got done with the front shocks today. You folks were not kidding about the front driver shock... I had to slip in a box ended wrench from the engine compartment and used a large open ended wrench on the big nut from the wheel-side.

I discovered one of the OE shocks (has only 19k miles on it), the front driver side to be exact, to have internal leakage. The gas has mixed with the oil or leaked out entirely. The shock no longer returns to free length when fully compressed. This could explain the bobbing motion on the highway that I experienced around 8000 miles.

The passenger front shock was cake!

Some tips I found useful:

* Definitely compress the new shocks and secure it with zip ties for easy installation

* Jack up the frame of the vehicle to allow the original shock to slip out.

The new Max Controls are all on and they're very hard to compress. They feel almost like HD Bilsteins.

After I get a few weeks on these shocks I will post some type of evaluation.
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Old 02-12-2005, 08:00 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: HELP - How do I change front shocks?

The front shocks can be a pain especially the LF. I take the bottom mount off first then compress the shock while the front end is hanging down and get it on the other side of the radius arm. The front axle will fall way down with out the shock attached, be careful of the brake hose and ABS wiring. I either burn them off with a torch, last resort, or break the tops off by bending the shock back and forth until it snaps the top mounting stud off. It's still a pain but it works.
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Old 02-12-2005, 09:14 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: HELP - How do I change front shocks?

I'm not strong enough to compress the shock in that position...

So what I did was pull the bottom mount out, jack up the frame of the van so the shock extends more and eventually you can just pull it out.

I didn't want to bother with torches or grinders.
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