Crown Victoria Rear Shock Absorber Replacement Notes

The passenger rear shock absorber on this vehicle was severly worn. The casing of the shock was covered in oil indicating the seals had failed. And when the vehicle was driven on the road, the passenger rear side of the vehicle seemed to oscillate uncontrollably somewhere the natural frequency of the suspension spring. Replacing the deceased rear shock absorbers on this vehicle would have numerous safety and handling benefits. But this was much easier said than done due to corrosion and limited access to the top nut which retained the shock absorber to the vehicle's frame.

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First, the vehicle is raised and supported with a pair of jackstands under the frame and a jack placed under center of the rear axle assembly.

The top nut was hopelessly seized and wouldn't turn with a wrench.

So a different tool was used

With some really long blades

There's was still a little metal left retaining the top nut and washer to the shock to remove.

The shock absorber was still being stubborn and wouldn't come out after most of the material retaining the shock to the vehicle's frame has been removed. So the rearend was raised to it's upwards travel limit and then slammed down on each side by quickly releasing hydraulic pressure from the jack. The slide hammer effect of the spring finally broke the top of the shock free. And the vehicle did not fall off the jackstands, break the brake hoses, or have the springs fly out in the process either. Leaving one shock absorber connected between the rearend assembly and the frame at all times increased the safety of this procedure to some extent, but there was still a risk of the spring becoming unseated and causing personal injury or property damage.

The bottom nut of the shock was really easy to remove since personnel of the local sears service center had just had it off a few days ago.

Now that the old shocks were off, it was time to install the new ones. The gabriel ultras below were sourced from the local autozone for around fifty dollars a pair. Too bad a few hundred dollars worth of tools was required to install them.

The passenger rear shock was relatively straight forward to install onto this 1997 crown vic with a set of ratcheting flexhead gear wrenches. But maneuvering the gear wrench around the shock absorber stud on the drivers side which was located only a fraction of any inch from the fuel lines was difficult. Fortunetly, the 1998-2002 crown vics are easier to install the drivers shock on due to the fuel lines being relocated to the passenger side and taking a different route near the shock stud.

The drivers rear shock absorber required inserting the rubber insulator with a pair of needle nose pliers. Really long needle nose pliers likely would have more practical than the locking ones pictured.

That shinny new black tube is the shock absorber.

The yellowish glow on the rear brake rotor is from a 500 watt halogen work light. Even if you are working outside in bright sunlight during the daylight hours, it will still likely be useful to have an assistant illuminate the area in between the frame and body with such a light. It is really dark in there and accidentally cutting the fuel or brake lines will greatly complicate replacing the rear shocks.

Raising the rearend a little will preload the rubber bushing and hold the shock absorber center stud stationary so that the nut can be installed onto it.

Here is how the shock absorbers connect to the rear axle

The lower nuts on the shock absorbers often spin off with a pneumatic air impact wrench.

But if things are really stubborn, an electric angle grinder can be used. Make sure you don't cut into the shock mount area of the axle housing and that you don't smell any flamable hydrocarbon gases in the air before starting though.

And here are a couple pictures of the rear shock absorbers that you will encounter on 1998-2002 crownvics.

The passenger's side. Be careful not to cut into the fuel lines.

note: fuel tank and exhaust system removed from vehicle

The drivers side of a 1998 crown victoria.

Here are a couple pictures of a 2003 mercury marauder with the rear clip removed from the frame.

The yellow arrows point to the locations in the rear crossmember where the top stud of the shock absorbers would pass through in the pre-2003 vehicles.
The red arrows point to the locations where the rear sway bar end links mount in the 1992+ crownvics.

If you own a civilian crown victoria with rear air suspension, be careful that you do not inadvertently damage the air suspension components when removing the shock absorbers. The air suspension line on the driver's side of the car is located very close to where the shock absorber passes through the vehicle's frame.

Note the air spring retaining clip and also the vent solenoid. Police interceptors use conventional coil springs in the rear, and will not have these components.

However, in some 2005+ police cruisers there will be fire suppression components mounted in this area.

Here are a few pictures of an early 1990's towncar with the floorpan sheetmetal cut away above the top shock absorber fasteners.

Cutting away the rear seat support with a torch was convient and saved a little time, but it's recommended to leave the rear seat support intact if you ever intend to carry back seat passenger's in your car

Using an acetylene cutting torch this close to the fuel tank is not recommended. But if you elect to access the top shock absorber mount using this method, you should make sure that your life insurance is paid up and that your last will/testament is stored in a safe place.

Here are a couple pictures of the rear suspension setup on a 1998 crown victoria police interceptor

The black grease covering the axle tube and part of the fuel tank is from the differential vent tube. And yes, this vehicle definetly needs new rubber muffler hangers installed.

Some points to consider here:

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