I installed a full set of the Bilstein shocks yesterday and tested the install on a bumpy dirt road. I have nothing to compare them to as far as running on an '06 Super Duty since the shocks on mine that was purchased about a month ago, were toast, but the ride was about what I was expecting and significantly nicer than my last truck - a 2002 Dodge Ram 2500. I am expecting them to help dampen the side to side swaying on dirt roads when my camper is installed. I won't be able to see how they do there until our next trip south.
24-186018 Front Shocks
24-186025 Rear Shocks
The rear shocks had fiberglass strap retainers on them and the hole spacing was exactly the same as the shock mounting holes on the truck. The front shocks for some reason came without any retaining straps - fully extended. They compressed to the same length as the old shocks I took off. I forgot to measure the full extension, but I am guessing it was about 2" longer than the old shocks.
The rear shocks went on easy. I didn't even take the wheels off. I just slid under the truck on a creeper and replaced both. It took less time than just doing one shock with jacking up and wheel removal x 2, though a bit tight under there, particularly on the passenger side, with the truck sitting on the ground.
They were a few issues I had installing the front shocks. I had the truck lifted on the differential as I was also replacing the front axles, so the suspension was fully compressed. My arm strength isn't what it used to be and I could not compress the shocks by hand to seat them in the mounting spots by pushing up on the shock body with the top bolt in the mounting hole on the frame, to slide the bottom of the shock into the axle mounting point. I couldn't even move them an inch with the top part held loosely in the mount, let alone the 10-12 inches required to fit them in. To shorten them for installation without having to fiddle around with dropping the front axle down, I rigged up two pieces of paracord with a couple of loops tied on each and and created a sort of block and tackle contraption to compress and hold the shock at the precise length to line up with the bottom mounting hole. Once in place with the bottom bolt in, just cut or untie the paracord and you are good to go. That worked great.
The second one was how to properly torque the top lock nut on the front shocks. As those who have installed this type of shock/strut know, the shaft at the top does not have any flats on it for keeping it from turning when tightening the top lock nut. Instead, it has a hex key hole on the top for that purpose. It was easy enough using a box wrench and an Allen socket on a ratchet from below to snug it up tight, but there was no way I could check the torque without buying some additional tools such as this ---> Strut Nut Sockets
- I will likely end up buying one of those sockets, a full set, or maybe making one from a used pawn shop deep socket.
Another option that might work would be to use the torque wrench with a hex socket on the top of the strut and a crows foot wrench on the nut either jammed in or held by a helper. I suppose I could have pushed the dust boot down and put some vice grips on the round shaft, but didn't like the idea of cracking through the nice chrome plating. So....I guesstimated the amount of torque. It sure would be nice if Bilstein put at least two flats on that shaft somewhere at the top between the dust boot and the rubber grommet, so I could put a crows foot wrench on it with the torque wrench at the top coming down through the engine compartment. Though, they probably have a good reason for not doing so.
Lastly, the stud at the top was too short to put the rubber protector cap back on it so I will have to wrap a piece of rubber padding material between the top of the shock and the heater lines (pretty sure that is what they are) that lay right on it. The only other annoyance on the install was loosing my grip on one of the front shock lock nuts while finger threading it on. I heard it slide down inside the engine compartment and stop with a slight clunk. No amount of flashlight searching, shaking the truck body or fishing around with a magnetic pickup tool produced the nut so I had to go buy another grade 8 lock nut as the one from the old shocks was not the same design. Maybe it will show up in the gravel driveway someday!