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Forum Home > Modifications > shock selection

Posts: 194
Last month I ordered a set of Bilstien 5100 shocks for the front and the back of my TJ. I have had them on the Jeep about 3 weeks and love them. That being said we went out this week end and did some trails in the level 3 range. Before the day was out both back shocks were shot. I m not sure if it was a compression issue or an extention issue. Per Bilstien the correct part number was sent to me so I did verify that. I am running a 4 inch short arm lift with the Rough Country X-Flex upper an lower control arms. I am also running 33x12.50x15 tires that do not rub at full flex in the back. I do have the bump stops installed that came with the lift and they do touch the Axel. How should I measure my set up to make sure I don't destroy the next set. I really don't think my set up should require limiting straps and there is only about 4 inches between the Axel and the bottom of the bump stop. What else do I need to know before my next order?
February 20, 2013 at 3:28 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Limited Member
Posts: 312

When you say "shot" what are they doing/not doing? Unless you physically damaged them to cause leaking, they shouldn't be junk after a few trips. I checked that shock out online and it had super good reviews. If you bottomed out and cause the shaft to bend, it will leak.

February 20, 2013 at 7:34 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 194

Update. I removed both shocks and they seem to still have lots of pressure. They don't seem to be bent and they are not leaking. The issue is after going on a trail ride the shocks don't seem to slow the axel down before it hits the bump stop. Before the trip there is a dip in the road I cross regularly at about 20 mph. The shock would control the axel as it responded to the dip. After the trail ride it does not control the axel and I am bottoming out on the bump stops at 20 mph in the same dip in the road. I can stand on my bumper and bounce a few times and the bump stops hit the axel. Please don't think I am bashing Bilstein, the shocks were preforming excellent and better than I expected before the trail ride and if they are bad I plan to get another set of them, but maybe in a different length. My lift included an extension for the shock mount on the axel side. Does that need to be removed? It would give me about 1 inch more of the piston rod showing at ride hight. I have several photos i am sending to Bilstein in the morning. If it would help I can post them. Thanks for your input in advance.

February 20, 2013 at 10:27 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 265

All that a shock does is dampen the spring.  Length doesn't  matter in terms of "will a bump overpower the shock".  They don't hold the jeep up off the spring or bump stops.  e.g. You can drive a vehicle without shocks at slow speeds and'll get all kinds of body wobble but the vehicle won't bottom out without them in.

The shock should be "matched" to the spring's strength and the vehicle weight so that it keeps the spring from cycling. e.g. you should get a half bounce when jumping on the less.

It sounds like maybe your shocks are too soft for your Jeep's weight or the springs are not quite strong enough. If it's bottoming out now and it didn't before then maybe the springs were impacted by the fact that the bilstein's allowed full suspension travel? 

Shock length won't change the amount of bounce it supresses because the shock doesn't suspend the vehicle. 

If you get shocks too strong, then you'll feel every bump in your behind.  The shock is stronger than the spring so the spring doesn't cycle it's full amount of travel.  e.g you won't bottom out but you'll feel the bounces more.

Length of shock should be set based on the suspension travel of your Jeep without any shock on... e.g. get the most travel possible (compression and extension) without having bump stops or limit straps.  Later add the bumps/limits to keep the shock from bottoming out and over-extending.

All that being said, the higher end shocks usually have more fluid/gas/stuff inside the cannister and possibly a side reservoir.  Shock fluids heat up when used heavily.  More fluid means the heat is dissipated into more mass of fluid, so the overall temperature rise is reduced.  The amount of heat generated is the same but the heat goes into a bigger amount of stuff. 

The shocks on my jeep "Bob" are stiffer than I would like them, but I found that a softer shock allowed "Bob" to bounce terribly in bumpy terrain.  The cause is that spring-over leaf springs are slightly stiffer than stock leaf springs.. so the stiffer spring would overpower a softer shock.  I pay for the stiffer shocks in my behind on really bumpy rides.  I stil notice that by the end of a LONG day of wheeling "Bob" still gets bouncy and the shocks will be slighly warmer to the touch.

Hope that helps.  My advice?  Is this on a  TJ rubicon?  Have you added significant weight from stock?


'94 Jeep YJ 4.0L, 35" BFGs, Atlas 2 tcase, D44 front, 14b rear, detroit front, ARB rear, 4.56 gears, Warn winch, Onboard air, some rock rash. 


February 21, 2013 at 10:17 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 199

Great explanation Phiilip.  


February 22, 2013 at 8:57 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 194

Thank you for your input. I get all that and yes it is an 05 Rubicon. I have not added any weight above the frame other than the 33" spare and a winch with syn cable.  I have been working with Bilstien for two days now sending photos and giving lots of info about my Jeep. They have been great up to this point. I am leaning toward the bad springs thought. Basically to this point every part of my Superlift system has failed to some degree and I guess the springs may be wore out as well. I am guessing my lift was not designed for rock crawling but maybe it was built for the mud or the mall. I also dont know how old the lift is. It could be up to 8 years old.  I will keep posting my progress on this.

February 22, 2013 at 5:56 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 194
Update. Ordered four 3.5 inch Metalcloak springs. They should be here in 1 to 2 weeks. I hope to have them on before the Super-lift ride March 8th. After talking to several different sources including those from this forum and I agree that the current springs are sagging and are not functioning properly. I will also order some new bump stops as the ones I am currently running are too soft. After I get the springs on I will re measure everything and set the bump stops accordingly. I will also verify the extension measurements and I don't think I will need anything to limit the down travel but if I do I will address that also. At this point I don't feel the shocks are damaged. I will update after I get the springs installed.
February 25, 2013 at 10:33 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 194

Update. The new Metal cloak springs did the trick. Lucky for me the shocks were not damaged by the spring failure and by adjusting my bump stops everything clears both up and down. The rear of my TJ is almost 2 inches higher now with the 3.5 inch MC springs even after removing the 4 inch springs that failed. I worked with Bilstien directly and they have amazing customer service. I even found out that you can send in a 5100 and have custom valving installed to meet your needs. That is about $60 per shock.

March 18, 2013 at 9:30 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 948

Thanks for the information, Brad.  I'm wanting to upgrade the shocks on both my rigs, and Bilsteins are definitely at the top.



95 Chevy Tahoe 2 door, 6.5L turbodiesel, 285/75R16 Kenda Klever M/T's on Toyota steelies, some other goodies.  Overlanding Fun

March 19, 2013 at 6:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 194
I highly recommend them. Great ride and great customer support.
March 19, 2013 at 9:33 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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