Buying used suspension parts can be a bit like plunking down some cash on a Russian mail- order bride. Sometimes you hit the jackpot with a smoking-hot girl with dark hair and blue eyes, who’s just thrilled to be out of old mother Russia and working on your Jeep. And sometimes you end up with Olga, the angry Siberian ice wench. Not that we’d know from experience or anything -- well, on the suspension parts, yeah, we are speaking from experience. Regarding the mail-order bride, um, well, we heard that from a friend.
Shocks If you are buying new springs, you’ll need new shocks too, so it makes sense to buy the shocks from the same guy you are buying the springs from. Measure your existing shocks and add the expected lift height to get a rough idea of what new length is needed. Once you make sure the shocks in question are the right length, check the bushings for any kind of wear or cracks. If equipped, make sure the threads on the pin end are in good shape. It isn’t uncommon to replace the bushings on the pin end of the shock. Look at the shock body where the shaft enters for any sign of leakage or moisture. For remote reservoir shocks, inspect all the hoses and joints for moisture as well. After that, have a buddy or the seller hold the other end of the shock as shown in the photo and work it at least one full cycle. There should be no grinding, change in resistance, or any other abnormalities felt through compression and rebound.
We might have mentioned that we are a bunch of cheap bastards, and that’s not just because of the peanuts we accept as compensation. Sure, not many reputable companies accept peanuts as forms of payment, but the fact of the matter is, even if we did have a money tree, we’d still be cheap bastards. We get a thrill out of building it on the cheap and having it work as good as those high-buck Jeeps do when we are out on the trail.
So, when it comes to buying used suspension parts, we know a thing or three. For example, you never really know how those springs or shocks were treated, and unless you remove them from the Jeep yourself, you will need to do some investigation to determine if your new part is the Russian beauty or the angry ice witch.
Track Bars Track bars follow many of the same guidelines as control arms do, but since they are bent for axle clearance to begin with, it can be hard to tell a bent track bar from a “straight” one. Instead, if you are looking at an adjustable track bar, it’s helpful to call the manufacturer and ask what the recommended length is for a particular lift height. Check bushings as we mentioned before for control arms, but pay special attention to the bolts that go through the bushings. Most aftermarket track bars require larger-than-stock bolts, and you want little, if any, play in the metal sleeve in the bushing. Also, if the frame-side end is a ball joint-style joint, check it for wear by wiggling it back and forth. It should be tight, but not impossible to move by hand. Also, the locking nuts on adjustable track bars like to come loose, which can lead to excessive wear on the threads. If that’s the case, it is best to move on to the next track bar.