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Should I Use Shock Boots?

Article written by Dr. Jones

Date Added: 04/15/2012

Yes, you should use shock boots, and yes, you should leave shock boots off. Confused? If you are familiar with ?The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy?, you know the problem is not the answer, but your understanding of the question.

Shocks have one of two configurations: body down or body up - which means the piston of the shock is either up out of the way, relatively safe from trail debris; or down low and in the business of what?s going on at the axle.

Yes, you should use a shock boot!

A body down - piston up shock can benefit from a boot by keeping all the dirt and grit off the piston. Importance? What is sandpaper, after all, but a whole bunch of fine grit that chews away at whatever it rubs against. The grit on the piston shaft, over time, has the same effect on the seals inside of the shock.

The shock boot of a body up - piston down shock serves the same purpose as mentioned above. However, a much more important role for the shock boot in this configuration is to protect that piston from dings or nicks from kicked up trail debris. Those little sharp edges will easily cut the inner seals when the piston cycles. Blake of All Pro Auto & Off Road, West Haven, Utah tells us that the number one reason they see for piston down shock failure can traced back to an unprotected piston with some slight piston nick resulting in a damaged seal and loss of pressurization.

Yes, you should leave the shock boots off!

Of course, at this point there are those that would say we are full of s*##% and that boots should not be used because they trap water and dirt inside thus exacerbating every problem we just pointed out - and those people would be correct... when using boots incorrectly, as most do.

The mistake people make is that shock boots are NOT an install and forget part. Perhaps the shock manufacturers fail to say it (or maybe they do but we have never bothered to read the instructions included with shock boots, have you?), but yes it's true. Shock boots need maintenance. Surprised? Occasionally, the shock boot zip-tie should be snipped and the shock boot flushed of dirt, dust and to allow any moisture out. Blake suggests slipping a garden hose in the top of the boot with the water at moderate pressure each time vehicle motor oil is changed. However, moisture is the enemy of steel so the boots will need to be left unattached overnight to dry out.

Final Thoughts

Before we give you our Final Thoughts, always follow the manufacturers' recommendation.

If you know full well that you are not going to bother to properly maintain a shock boot on a body down shock, then leave it off. However, if you are running shocks with the piston down, I strongly encourage you to use shock boots to protect the piston. With rare exception, and I won't share who the exceptions are, manufacturers DO NOT consider shock seal damage caused by a dinged piston to be a "warranty" issue. Protect those shock pistons, or you could be paying for replacements out of your own pocket.

Our Thank You's!

Thank you to Blake and All Pro Auto & Off Road for their valuable input based on years of first-hand experience with the issues discussed in this article.
 


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