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Old 10-21-2019, 09:32 PM   #1
bobinyelm
 
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Default What Shocks to Use?

I apologize and admit that I have not done a Search, but I would like the latest recommendations tailored to my parameters.

My '05 Long/Tall 2500 I bought brand new has only 60k miles and rides EXACTLY like it did when new, and 90% of the miles have been over billiard table smooth roads, so the shocks have had the Life of Riley, and never broke in (or broke down). They were super harsh from day-one, with even a minor road seam shaking the vehicle (unless I run the tires soft).

My former van was a Ford E-350 Powerstoke diesel that could carry and tow far more, yet rode beautifully even empty, but was well controlled when fully loaded (and I towed trailers up to 12,000#s at times as well).

I just drove Seattle-Phoenix on I-5 and I feel like I'be through a war even though I drive slowly (cruise at 60 mph indicated/57mpg actual for quieter operation plus I get 30mpg at that speed), and I just can't stand it anymore.

I am not unfamiliar with heavily sprung vehicles-my truck is a Ram 1 ton Cummins dually with Stable-Loads and Auxiliary Air Springs and Ranch 9000X shocks (I haul up to 1.5tons internally, or tow up to 14,000 pounds and need the extra load handling), and it rides MUCH more acceptably than the Sprinter.

So, my question is has anyone found shocks that control the motion of the van (damping) without transmitting every little bump or road imperfection into the van like it ran over an IED, making the tire skitter. The fronts are the worst, but the rears could be lots better as well.

Up until now I've been to cheap to buy better shocks thinking Sachs or whoever made them make good dampers and maybe it's just the springs on the Sprinter, which is why I am soliciting comments (like do they ALL ride like buck-boards that crack fillings on California Interstates that are like ribbons of broken concrete).

The frustrating part is that on smooth bumps (dips or humps), the current shocks damp the motion fine with zero wallowing, damping the motion quickly- it's just thing like broken pavement, or edges of road slabs, or really poor paving that totally upset the vehicle. One side road off California 99 looked like the asphalt was applied in gobs that never melted together and the resulting lumps had to be taken at 10mph to avoid abusing the vehicle.

I know I can't be the only one who has suffered this characteristic, and faced with the prospect of running close to recommended tire pressures over such lousy roads in the future (my previous locations were blessed with great roads I guess), I need to find a solution, or I will be suffering PTSD or finding broken spot welds in my vehicle soon, and I don't want to lay out big bucks only to find pick the wrong solution.

Thanks,
Bob
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Old 10-21-2019, 09:40 PM   #2
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Default Re: What Shocks to Use?

Are you heavily loaded? What tire pressure are you running?
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Old 10-21-2019, 09:57 PM   #3
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Default Re: What Shocks to Use?

I doubt the shocks are the problem. Before purchasing new shocks, do this simple test. Disconnect the shocks by removing the lower bolt. Take it for a test ride on your "favorite" road.
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Old 10-21-2019, 10:52 PM   #4
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Default Re: What Shocks to Use?

High tire pressures can result in a brutal ride.
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Old 10-21-2019, 11:04 PM   #5
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Default Re: What Shocks to Use?

1st, the bad ride is empty (or as empty as it gets with full foam insulation, 3/16" wood side, passenger van roof panels, and a 200 pound removable cabinet with fridge/microwave/storage)- I am guessing maybe 400 pounds of presently carried load. I made the van convertible from full utility van to camper to maximize its utility to me.

FULLY loaded (I've had 1500+ pounds of window glass in the back) the ride and control are fine. Sorry-I should have specified that.

I know that more weight tends to "soften" damper (shock) response, so with an empty Sprinter I am asking dampers meant to damp heavy loads to act "soft" which is a tall order (which is why I used Rancho9000x ADJUSTABLE shocks on my dually Cummins so I could pick the best ride (damps bumps to eliminate pitching or wallowing without acting like the suspension is welded solid).

I am now running 55psi front and 60psi empty (they are Load E rated Michelin tires). To soften road hazards empty I have run as little as 35psi F and 45psi R. I know that hurts fuel economy (I lose up to 10% on softer tires, and the harshness is still there-just not as pronounced).

You say you doubt shocks are the problem. Are you saying that the Sprinter springs are so hard that no shocks can affect the torturous harsh ride and that all 2500s ride like this?Possible I suppose, but unnecessary based on my experiences w/ other vehicles.

And how would removing a lower bolt would make a difference (since multiple bolts attach the front strut to the spindle, and if I removed all of them, the vehicle would crash to the ground)? Not being smart-assed, just trying to figure out what you are asking.

Did you maybe mean the front sway bar link bolt instead (since a stiff sway bar can give a very harsh ride if only one wheel strikes the road irregularity)? There is only one of those bolts per side.

If the shocks COULD be removed (the rears could be, but not the fronts), I would expect the ties/wheels would strike their bump-stops on every sharp bump since there would be no damping at all to restrict their movement, and the ride would be like riding a pogo stick (bouncy-bouncy), since the spring undulations would be undamped.

I suspect the suspension COULD be capable of a controlled ride without the absolutely jarring shock every road irregularity imparts to the chassis. My "guess" is that the OEM shocks are of a modest design meant to work best at full gross weight for the van, rather than a variable valve design that adjusts the damping to the velocity of the first part of the stroke to provide a comfortable ride and adequate damping regardless of load. I am trying to find if anyone looked for, or found such a shock (by "shock" I am meaning front struts as much as rear shocks since the harshness is most noticeable when the front wheel hit the road irregularities.

Sachs replacements note "Twin tube design" front struts, while others don't. Konis are traditionally adjustable (though expensive), my experience with KYBs is that they tend to be harsh and stiff. Blisteins are kind o in-between based on automobile applications.

Also, catalogs show different fitment for 2500s with High Roof design vs. low roof. Is that because high roof vans may be a bit heavier due to the extra sheet metal that raises the roof?

And regarding high tire pressures, my E-350 had Load Range E tires (80psi rated) and even at 60psi the van rode beautifully when empty. The Cummins dually (also Load E tires) rides well at 55-60psi also empty), all of which makes me ask.

You describe the "brutal" ride at high tire pressures in the Sprinter, so I guess it is not unusual- do you still have the original OEM shocks on yours?

I'd be interested in knowing what people who have switched shocks have put on (Bilstein/Koni/etc have noted for ride quality change), since now I plan to use the van more (at age 15 with only 61k miles it has not been used often, so I was willing to put up with the ride, especially since I was n better roads).

Thanks

Last edited by bobinyelm; 10-21-2019 at 11:21 PM.
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Old 10-21-2019, 11:21 PM   #6
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Default Re: What Shocks to Use?

Yes, you're being smart-assed. I didn't tell you to remove the struts. I told you to remove the lower shock bolt.

The shocks and struts have such wimpy damping that it doesn't make much difference if they could be removed. And yes, I had removed my shocks to test damping. I have accelerometer test results with and without shocks. Not much difference.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bobinyelm View Post

You say you doubt shocks are the problem. Are you saying that the Sprinter springs are so hard that now shocks can affect the torturous harsh ride and that all 2500s ride like this?

And how would removing a lower bolt would make a difference (since multiple bolts attach the front strut to the spindle, and if I removed all of them, the vehicle would crash to the ground)? Not being smart-assed, just trying to figure out what you are asking.
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Old 10-21-2019, 11:26 PM   #7
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Default Re: What Shocks to Use?

Vancompass fox for the rear.
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Old 10-22-2019, 03:06 AM   #8
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Default Re: What Shocks to Use?

Running 42-44 psi all around with B rated 2.35 tires at 60 mph on the Interstate my van with my light camper build rides really nice.
Maybe like it's on Quaaludes.
Down right pleasant.
And very relaxing, rolling along.

I think the Feds banned Quaaludes 30 years ago because they were so much fun.
https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33428487

Better buy yourself some Konis so you feel better and before they are banned too.

bill in tomahawk
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Last edited by billintomahawk; 10-22-2019 at 03:14 AM.
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Old 10-22-2019, 04:11 AM   #9
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Default Re: What Shocks to Use?

Quote:
Originally Posted by calbiker View Post
Yes, you're being smart-assed. I didn't tell you to remove the struts. I told you to remove the lower shock bolt.

The shocks and struts have such wimpy damping that it doesn't make much difference if they could be removed. And yes, I had removed my shocks to test damping. I have accelerometer test results with and without shocks. Not much difference.
Dear cal

I am truly sorry you feel that way.

I honestly believed my front shocks ARE strut assemblies, and cannot simply be detached or disabled without removing the entire strut.

I do not see where one bolt can be removed to remove or disable the front shocks.

Are the shocks inside the struts so can be disassembled? The photos I brought up to show the front shocks look like a unit assembly.

In the photo the strut is RED.
https://www.sprinterstore.com/wp-con...ngs-System.png

This is a link to the strut/shock alone:
https://www.carparts.com/details/Dod...wG-Q&gclsrc=ds


I am more than open to instruction (I did not seek help here to flame or incite), but please try to keep your attitude in check if you plan to attack me again, because I am only trying to learn.

I sincerely apologize if my question offended you (or anyone else) in ANY way, even if from my ignorance of the front suspension and my question which bolt to remove.

Bob

Last edited by bobinyelm; 10-22-2019 at 04:57 AM.
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Old 10-22-2019, 04:27 AM   #10
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Default Re: What Shocks to Use?

Dear bill in tomahawk,

I would guess part at least of your better ride could be due to the more compliant car-rated tires, and not just the lower pressure? I know higher load rated tires have less compliant carcasses.

Even at 35-45 psi my Sprinter crashes over road imperfections (a concrete slab separation sounds and feels loud, but a piece of broken concrete and depression (as California Interstates and 99 seem to be composed of) cause the tie to skip over the surface, transmitting a sharp to the chassis that makes the entire chassis and everything inside shudder.

As I said, I'm not sure if it could be the tire construction or the shocks, or the spring rates themselves "at fault" as I understand the cargo and passenger vans have different springs and spring rates?

I would like to retain the ability of carrying a heavy load (my camper stuff is completely removable to allow full use of the floor for cargo), and putting car tires on would defeat that I suspect. I don't do it often now, but when I replace the tires (my original Michelins have half tread at 61,000mi, though I know I should replace them based on age alone, though the van lived indoors since new except when "working." so not much UV exposure, and the rubber still feels "soft" to the fingernail.

The problem feels to be in the FRONT much more than the rear (maybe because the driver sits almost over the front).

Bob
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