Rebuild intervals - when do you send them in?

We get this question a lot: when should I send my shocks in to get rebuilt? Like most other things we discuss here, the answer is; it depends.

 An early 911 strut in for rebuild at the right time, before it's covered in oil!

An early 911 strut in for rebuild at the right time, before it's covered in oil!

Some roads, tracks, and driving styles are easier on dampers than others. Some cars are harder on dampers than others. Installation is a factor too. For example, are the dampers and/or canisters subject to heat from exhausts, radiators, brakes? All of these things can influence wear to the seals, bearings, and fluid. For example, this Cayman front strut did not have a ton of time on it, yet had significant wear and dirty fluid:

 This is a good exmaple of dirty strut fluid that wears bearings, seals, and interferes with proper valving function

This is a good exmaple of dirty strut fluid that wears bearings, seals, and interferes with proper valving function

One of the harder parts for judging rebuild needs is the fact that damper performance typically degrades slowly. Just like your vision, sometimes you don't know you need glasses until you try on the right pair! We've had sets sent in that people were generally happy with, only to be blown away when they put the freshly rebuilt set back on. 

 Before (right) and after (left) damper parts cleaned in a sonic tank 

Before (right) and after (left) damper parts cleaned in a sonic tank 

Most of the time, we get dampers sent in after they've begun to leak. Generally, this is inadvisable. A parallel: you would not wait to change your engine oil until there's leaking and smoke. This of course means you've missed your opportunity for routine maintenance and end up replacing a bunch of stuff you didn't need to. To avoid all of that, here are our general guidelines for rebuild intervals:

  1. Racing a full season and doing test days, rebuild once a year and perhaps check on the dyno during a mid-season break
  2. Club racing a 3-8 times a year, every two years during the winter is fine
  3. Track cars doing 5-10 weekends a year, every two to three years during the winter
  4. Street/DE cars, every two to four years. Have a look at the suspension once your level of satisfaction starts to wane or you keep having to make adjustments to be happy. 

Please email or call us with detailed questions!

-The Olsen Motorsports team