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Shock it to Me
It’s not marketing-speak when automobile manufacturers say that critical elements of steering, suspension and braking systems are designed as complete systems. And that every component of those systems is critical to the operation of the other components. That’s just a simple fact.
In the case of shocks and struts, there are the exact components that are installed on the factory floor, and then there are dozens of aftermarket replacements. What is generally unknown or ignored by consumers is that while a replacement shock or strut may mount in the same position, its makeup in both design and manufacture could be dramatically different.
It’s your job as a trusted repair technician or maintainer of those vehicles to guide your customers down the proper path. And that applies to every vehicle they drive, from SUVs, to minivans, to compact daily drivers.
The sophistication of today’s suspensions is more complex than ever. Maintaining proper driving dynamics depends on keeping the vehicle’s steering and suspension systems intact.
While true of all vehicles, the FCA US LLC family of SRT® vehicles magnifi es this point. The HEMI® engine-powered Dodge Challenger and Charger SRT models, and the Jeep® Grand Cherokee SRT are in a class by themselves, but they present a sexy way to discuss the critical nature of suspension components. And even though these SRT marvels are at the leading edge of engineering technology, the principle is the same: Using O. E. replacement parts from Mopar® matters.
For SRT vehicles, FCA US has worked collaboratively with a high-performance shock manufacturer for years on sophisticated, adjustable suspension components. While earlier SRT® vehicles like the Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger and Jeep® Grand Cherokee used shocks that were dimensionally the same for many years, the internal valving varied greatly.
By their nature, a different ride quality was expected from each. Among performance enthusiasts, the Dodge Challenger is the “racecar” of the group, and a stiffer ride is acceptable for those expecting track day handling. The Dodge Charger owner expects a more civil driving experience, with plenty of handling to spare. Neither driver is willing to lower the demand for performance.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, because of its stance, high horsepower and, for some, off-road capabilities, has another level of shock valving among the group, tuned especially for its unique qualities. Drivers of these vehicles have a completely different ride expectation.
Only the shocks designed for those systems could maintain all of those varying driving dynamics and deliver the expected ride qualities. By 2012, Active Damping Systems (ADS) came to SRT models and it was a complete game-changer for performance handling and suspension systems. We agree that ADS adds a very high level of technology, but every class and type of vehicle on the road depends on the same fundamentals.
Among standard vehicles, keeping a minivan, SUV or even a small truck performing in predictable comfort or rugged performance requires the original suspension components designed for the job.
Cosmetically and dimensionally, there may be a number of shocks and struts available for installation, but only the originals will return the vehicle to its designed and engineered capabilities, providing years of safe and predictable handling.
As you approach the next shock or strut installation on an FCA US vehicle, remember the importance of the engineering dynamics designed into Mopar® shocks and struts and contact your local Mopar dealer for O. E. replacement parts.