How to Solve Handling Issues With A Shock Rebuild

Aaron Lambert
Post by Aaron Lambert
March 7, 2022
How to Solve Handling Issues With A Shock Rebuild

How do you know when you need a shock rebuild?

It's a question we get a lot from drivers and riders, and the truth is there are many factors to consider. From handling issues like a soft, spongy feeling and bottoming out to visual cues such as leaks or broken parts, shocks need to be rebuilt.

Only you know how your car feels. How it performs, holds the racing surface, and handles corners. Shock maintenance is often overlooked, but we believe it gives you the edge over your competition and sets you up for success on race day.

A Shock Rebuild: The Key to Solving Handling Issues

We understand you might be hesitant to invest in a shock rebuild. Is it necessary? Could you compete in one last race before you spend the money?

If you're already experiencing handling issues and you've explored every other adjustment, you can't afford to wait.

Understanding your suspension, how it's set up, what it should feel like, and how to solve issues is paramount to successful riding or driving. We'll take a closer look at what a shock rebuild is and what you can expect after.


What Does a Shock Rebuild From Penske Consist of?

A shock rebuild starts with a dyno run before disassembly to confirm functionality. Once we determine what's necessary, we clean the internal components and replace all shims, seals, and oil.

FREE DOWNLOAD: How to Read a Shock Dyno Graph

In this free download, we outline how to read a dyno graph and, more importantly, what it can tell you about how your shock is performing.


Over time, oil deteriorates due to continuous friction and temperature changes, affecting ride comfort and performance. Internal components often suffer wear and tear. How quickly depends on the type of racing you do and how often you race. Driver characteristics and how the car is handled also play a role.

A shock rebuild is more straightforward than a revalve, and it doesn't involve modifying internals or performance; instead, a rebuild facilitates performance and ensures the longevity of your shocks.


How do Worn Shocks Affect Handling?

Several handling issues can come from worn shocks. Check out our blog post: 5 Risks of Not Doing a Shock Rebuild Before the Race Season to dig deeper on the risks.


"I'm suffering From Oversteer and Understeer"

Shocks help your tires grip the track when going through corners. Your car or bike can be lazy and be less reactive in corners with worn shocks. Your shocks might lose the ability to control the rate of weight transfer leading to increased steering input to navigate turns.

If you adjust compression and rebound settings in these situations and still don't see results, your shocks might need servicing or rebuilding.

"It's A Rough Ride"

The suspension as a whole contributes to ride comfort, but worn shocks make bumps and dips more pronounced. Tell-tale signs are clunks or knocks caused by metal-to-metal contact through bottoming; and vibrations in your steering wheel when you brake or steer. If your shocks are heavily worn, you'll feel vibrations even on a smooth surface.

"Braking is Less Stable"

With worn-out components, braking will feel less stable, and it will take your car or bike longer to stop. You might nosedive more through under braking, and your rear will pitch up as a result.

Conversely, during acceleration, the rear of your vehicle might squat excessively, causing the front end to rise. Both nosediving and rear pitching affect handling and control.

"It Doesn't Feel Right Over Bumps or Dips"

If your car or bike isn't handling well over bumps and dips, your shocks might need rebuilding. You might bottom out regularly, even with compression and rebound adjustments.


When is it Time for a Shock Rebuild?

Often, drivers only send their shocks in for a rebuild once they've begun to leak. By then, it's almost too late, and you've missed your opportunity for routine maintenance.

  • A good rule of thumb for service intervals is around 50-hours. PLEASE NOTE: This can vary based on your type of racing, so please don't hold us to the exact letter of the law.

  • If your car or vehicle has been in an accident or even an off-track excursion, a rebuild is highly recommended. Typically large off-track impacts can damage internal components, typically the shim stack. While a full rebuild may not be necessary, certain pieces maybe need to be replaced for proper performance.

  • Also, one of the most common areas overlooked is "trailer miles." Yes, your shocks are working when you're trailing down the road, and most times, these are the hardest miles your shocks see. When the car is strapped down, restricting chassis movement to a smaller area, you typically will wear key items like seals, piston band, and even the body. 


What Should you Expect to Feel After a Shock Rebuild?

Less obvious signs that you need a shock rebuild are oil leaking from the seal head and dripping down the shaft, and oil might soak the bump stop and attract dirt and dust.

Don't panic if there's a little bit of oil after rebuilding. Only worry if it persists. Sometimes there is residual oil that gets trapped in the threads. We try to clean this thoroughly, but we might not get it all.

Many of the handling issues above can be solved by making suspension adjustments. If making adjustments doesn't change resistance, book in for a shock rebuild.

You can expect a smoother ride, better handling, and more confidence on the track.


Is a Rebuild Different from a Revalve?

Put simply, yes.

A rebuild involves taking apart, cleaning, and re-assembling your shocks because they're worn from dirt and grime build-up, old oil, and general wear and tear.

Revalving is an internal modification or upgrade that improves shock performance to suit the rider or drivers' specific needs and preferences. A revalve modifies the piston valve stack, changing the damping properties and leveling up performance. It will affect cornering stability, high-speed control, bottom-out resistance, and rider confidence.

A revalve is more expensive than a rebuild because more time is spent on internal modifications. A cost-effective option would be rebuilding the shock while making upgrades.


Penske Racing Shocks Rebuild

Penske Racing Shocks only rebuilds Penske Shocks. Using Penske-built shock dynos paired with MTS software inspected yearly, you're guaranteed data and feedback you can count on. Whether you need a service, revalve, or custom design solution, PRS has you covered.

To work out what you need and find the optimum solution to your shock needs, reach out and take advantage of our S3 System (Shock + Setup + Support) to perform with confidence and be at your best from the start.

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Aaron Lambert
Post by Aaron Lambert
March 7, 2022
After completing high school, Aaron joined Penske Racing Shocks in 2000 as a damper technician. Since then, Aaron served in multiple management and technical rolls in the company and oversaw all major sales markets including Short Track, NASCAR, Sports Car, and IndyCar. He spearheaded the company’s successful return to the Late Model market as well as the new S-link shock dyno product line. In addition, Aaron handles all dealer relationships and has been a driving force behind Penske Racing Shocks’ long term in-house manufacturing strategy . Aaron was promoted to General Manager in 2019, a position he currently holds.
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