Jeep XJ Overhaul Part 2: New Shocks

With the brake system completely finished and functioning well, it was time to focus on upgrading the XJ suspension.  When I inherited the vehicle from my father-in-law it was clear to me that the aftermarket shocks that he had put on years ago were absolutely toast.  While doing the brake work I had a chance to take off the shocks and take a closer look.  Once inspecting them thoroughly it was clear that it was time for something new.  After a bit of research Mark and I both agreed that the 5100 series by Bilstein was the way to go.  This is Bilstein’s middle of the road shock offering that promises to provide years of off-road worthy service while not compromising reliability on the road.  Bilstein shocks are a bit more expensive than the other brands out there but I thought spending a little extra cash in this area would be well worth it; especially after being bounced around pretty badly out in Colorado last summer.

The Install

This was a pretty straightforward install but as usual with the XJ there’s almost always a snag along the way.  This time, we ran into a problem with one of the threaded studs that the bottom portion of the shock bolts to.  The stud was completely stripped and needed to be re-tapped.  Kind of a nerve-wracking job since this stud is welded directly to the rear axle.  We were able to get the stud re-tapped and its holding well so far.  If there are any problems in the future I may need to look into getting a new stud welded to the axle.  Not fun.

What a Difference

I had the chance to drive the Jeep a bit after getting these put on and I can honestly say that the difference was night a day!  These Bilstein 5100’s are the real deal.  They’re firm, predictable, and really give the driver confidence.  I’m so happy I decided to spend a bit more and get a top end shock.  I still need to really put them to the test off-road but that will have to wait until after the rest of the work is done.  Until next time!

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