HOW TO: Replace Stock Shocks with Bilsteins Shocks on a 99 Ranger
Mod: Replace stock shocks with Bilstein Shocks (would probably work with any replacement shock)
Difficulty: 2/10 (not a 1 simply because you might have to deal with rust).
Time: 3 hours
* Basic hand tools and a good mechanics wrench set. A torque wrench may also be needed.
Well, did this and figured I'd write up a nice little how-to as it's not terribly hard at all with a good set of tools.
First and foremost make sure when working under a car to properly support the vehicle with jackstands. Be careful!
I started with the rear shocks first. I jacked up the rear end and placed the jack stands under the rear axle. You'll have to place the jack stands at certain spots as the bolts for the bottom of the shocks face outward. I jacked up the rear end, took the tires off, then moved the jack stands out as far as possible with the tires removed to give myself as much room to work with as possible.
This shot shows where I eventually placed the jack stands (not well I know, but I forgot to take a picture of it). As you can see the bolt faces outward.
Each shock is simply held in place by 2 bolts. The bottom which you can plainly see in the above photo and the top bolt (which can be seen in the below photo). Simply remove those nuts and the shock should come right off (with a little elbow grease). To remove, I first let these babies take a bath of WD40 2-3 each. I just wanted to be safe as I didn't want to shear a bolt off. The bottom nut I simply placed a wrench on the bolt (15mm I believe) and simply placed a 18mm socket on the nut with a big breaker bar until it the wrench was against the axle and let the beef go! Haha... it will take some muscle if those things have been on there for awhile, but with a little luck and some elbow grease the will come off. Take the bolt out and the shock will come off the bottom mount.
The top bolt is slightly different. It is welded straight to the frame. Once the nut is off, the only real hard part about removing the rear shocks begins. The rubber boot that the shock has will somewhat stick on the top bolt. I wiggled the old shock out to the point where I could wedge a screwdiver in from the side and just hammered it off the bolt. That seemed to work the best and didn't really cause any damage to anything (other then the old shock itself but as they were rusted I didn't really care).
After the old shock is off, simply take the new shock and wiggle it onto the top bolt far enough so that you can place the nut back on. This may also take some strength and patience but eventually it will get there. After that simply tighten up the nut make sure the rubber is getting pushed onto the bolt and not just pinched down in one spot.
Now the biggest challenge with the rear. Moving the shock up the rear mount. THIS IS A LOT EASIER WITH 2 PEOPLE! Nothing much brute force here. Just push up on the bottom of the shock until it is compressed enough to fit into the rear mount. Once that is done have the 2nd person place the bolt through when the holes line up. I did this by setting the shock into the mount and then using a screwdriver to pry the shock up ever so slightly until it lined up. The problem with this is that I had the shock come out of the mount 3 or 4 times on each side which means you have to press the shock all the way back up again. It is definitely a workout to do that 8 times. Haha...
Tighten the bolts down and the shock is on. Rinse and repeat for the other side.
Once the rear is done, bolt the tires back on and set it done (unless you jacked the whole truck up, but some of us only have 2 jack stands at the moment). Jack the front up and remove the tires. Should look something like this.
Once you have the front jacked up, this process is much the same. I found the front to be a much easier install. Not sure why. There are 3 bolts per shock. 2 on the underside and 1 at the top of the shock.
Here's the underside ones in a bad quality photo. Sorry about that.
These bolts came off fairly easy on my truck. I can't remember the size they were either. Next up came the bolt on the top.
I couldn't find a socket deep enough for these so I had to use a 2 wrenches linked to get enough torque to really turn this one. The funny part was that in the process of removing these top nuts on both of the shocks, I sheared the whole bolt off. In the long run, it was easier simply because I didn't want to reuse them anyway and they just came out that way. But if you are looking to save or sell off your old shocks, you may want to take extra care in the process of taking these top bolts off if they are rusted over.
After that it was simply a matter of putting the hardware included with the Bilsteins correctly (make a sandwich, metal plate, then a rubber stopper then put shock in then put rubber stopper then metal plate then top bolt) and placing the new front shocks in. If that doesn't make sense just ask and I'll post up a picture of what I did for the top hardware.
I wasn't 100% sure about the torque ratings for all the bolts so but I have an account on alldata.com for a 99 Ranger. I used the numbers they gave to get a good approximation of what to do. That and I just judged how hard I had to work to get the bolts off (within reason as rust can make things seem a lot tigther then they should be). After that the new shocks should be installed.
If I missed anything, screwed up anything, or you have more questions feel free to ask me and I'll fix or answer the question. Thanks, and hope you find it useful.