The McRat Method to C5 Shock Replacement or…

Look Ma!  No knuckles!

Let’s get started:

Heres the tools you will need, and a couple you don’t:

You may also want a hammer, a long handled screwdriver, a motorcycle tie (if you don’t have zip ties).  I need these at first until I started to do it right.

Step 1, Rear shock R/R.  Rear wheel removal:

Jack up car, remove wheel.  Use jackstand if you want, but you won’t actually have to get under the car.  I like using a jacking puck at the factory rear jack point.   It makes life so simple.

Step 2, Remove lower shock bolt :

Using (2) 24mm sockets, remove lower shock bolt.  The shock is NOT under tension, and the bolt should slide out fairly easily.  If not?  WD-40 and hammer.   Don’t f’k up the threads, you will be reusing the nut and bolt.

Optional:  You can use an air impact wrench on the lower shock nut if you wish.   I did it both ways.

Step 3, Remove top shock bolts:

There are (2) 13mm bolts holding the top of the shock in.  Use your extensions to get these.  Save the bolts, they will be reused.  Now the shock is “free”.  You should be able to wiggle it.

Step 4, Remove shock:

The shock is not under tension.  Rotate the lower clevis CCW to free it.

Pull the shock downward until you free the top.

And OUT SHE COMES!!!  GM says you must pull the tierod.  Bull.  It’s not even hard.

Step 5:   Install New Rear Shock.

Just like removal, slide shock top first through the tie-rod/lower a-arm gap, rotate clevis onto lower mount.  Nothing trick, just reverse the procedure.

Step 6:   Install top shock bolts.

Reinstall the (2) 13mm top bolts and tighten to 22ftlbs.

Step 7: Install lower shock bolt.

Now install the lower nut and bolt.  The bolt should slide in pretty easy.  Now you need to torque the lower bolt to [b]162ftlbs[/b]!!  I propped a breaker bar against the ground so I could use 2 hands on the torque wrench.  You are now have a new rear shock!  Reinstall wheel, torque lugs to 100ftlbs, and lower the jack.

Step 1:   Front Shock R/R, remove wheel.

Move puck to the front jack point, loosen lugs 1 turn, then jack up front so the tire is about 3” off the ground.  Later, we will use a second shorter jack, so this will be important.

Step 2:   Remove top nut.

Using the 15mm open end on the top shock nut, and a small crescent wrench on the flat on the top of the shaft, loosen and remove the top nut.  It’s a tight squeeze in there.  The shock shaft will rotate if you don’t hold the flat, so you must get two wrenches in there.   It’s easy, but I couldn’t get a good picture.  It will be obvious when you see it.

Here is a picture of the little flat you must hold when you remove the nut.  Underneath that arrow is the top nut, a big washer and a big grommet.   Remove all three.

Below the nut is a large concave washer, and cone shaped rubber grommet.  You will reuse all three parts.  They will come off by hand once the nut is removed.

Step 3:   Remove lower shock bolts.

Next we remove the two lower shock bolts.  These are 13mm bolts with a free nut on the bottom where you can’t see, but can easily reach.  Notice the arrow on the left.  This is the ABS sensor.  You might want to disconnect this to get it out of your way.  It makes things a little easier.  If you disconnect, make sure you reconnect it.

To actually remove the bolts, you will need (2) 13mm sockets, and an extension for the top one.   They are really easy to remove, but hard to take a picture of.  The shock is now free.  Or so you think!   Next is the only hard part about the whole project.  GM says you need special tools to remove the front shocks.  Nope.   But it is a pain.

Step 5:   Front Removal – Shocking Bondage Scenes!!

Did you wonder why Zip Ties were on the tool list?  Wonder no more. These are nitrogen charged shocks that are under tension.  It takes about 50lbs of force to compress them.  To remove the shock without disassembling the suspension, you must compress the shock about 3”, and hold it there while you remove it.  For that, we’ll use zip ties.  If you can bench press 300lbs, you might be able to skip this step.  You could substitute a motorcycle tie-down strap for zip ties, but I found the zip ties work better.  I did one side each way.

As you can see by the arrow at the top, you make about a 2” dia circle with top tie.  I had to use 2 ties at each junction because I happened to have the world’s crappiest zip ties.  You can pull them apart with your bare hands.  Normal quality zip ties should work without doubling them up.

I threaded them through one of the holes at the bottom shock mount.  Pull all the slack out of them.  If you can compress the shock by hand, do so and tighten the zip ties until the shock is 3” compressed.   Otherwise, follow the next step.

Step 6:  Compress suspension.

With the small floor jack, raise the lower a-arm under the ball joint cover.  You will raise it about 3” to compress the shock.  Tighten the zip ties as tight as you can get them, then lower the jack again.

STEP 7:  Remove front shock.

The shock should now be free to move up and down.  The top of the shaft will have about 1” clearance to it’s mounting bracket.  Put the top of the shock shaft back into it’s hole a little, and then move the bottom of the shock towards the front of the car.

The shock will slip out.  IT’S OUT!!  HAHAHA!!!

Step 8:  Installing the front shock, compress new shock.

With zip ties, do the bondage routine to the new shock.  It is fairly easy to compress the shock when you can put your weight into it.

Step 9:  Installing front shock.

Reverse the removal procedure to install.  Slide the shock up, and put the top shaft into it’s bracket.

Step 10:  Tighten top nut.

Put the conical rubber grommet with the cone up, onto the shaft.  Make sure it goes around the top lower grommet.  Put the large washer back on with the cavity down, then get the 15mm nut started with your fingers.

Cut the zip ties, making sure that the bottom of the shock is over it’s mount.  It will expand slowly, taking 1-2 seconds to extend fully. Remove all zip ties.

Hey!  Now you can see better.  Tighten the top nut with a 15mm open end, and holding the flat on the shaft with a small crescent wrench.  If you can, torque to 19ftlbs, or just tight with a wrench.

Step 11:  Attach bottom of shock.

First look at the bottom of the shock.  The mounting tabs are angled.  Rotate the bottom of the shock so that the angle matches the mounting holes on the a-arm.  You can’t put it on backwards, it won’t fit.

The stock shock is actually shorter than it’s mount by about ½”.  This makes it so you can’t start the bottom 13mm nuts on their bolts.  So get the small jack again, and raise the lower a-arm up enough so that the bottom of the shock reaches its mount. 

Stick the bolts through and tighten the nuts to 21ftlbs with the (2) 13mm rachets that you used during removal.

ARRGGHH!!!  My vision is getting blurry!  If you unplugged the ABS sensor wire, plug it back in now.  Congrats!  You’ve installed a front shock with special tools!

Step 12:  Replace the wheel.

Get lugs started, tighten by hand, then lower the jack until the tire just touches.  Torque lugs to 100ftlbs, remove jack AND PUCK! (Doh!)  Drive car to store for more beer.

This was done on a 2002 Corvette Z06.  If your car is different, you may have to adjust procedures.  This is NOT per GM Service manual recommendations, so use these instructions at your own risk. 

Expect it to take 2-3 hrs at a lazy pace.  Good luck and happy haulin’!

Patrick McSwain

AKA “McRat”