Changing Your Shocks and Fuel Filters

Published in the June 2013 Issue June 2013 Installs

You’ll probably hear this time and time again, but safety is the first thing you should be going over before you start any project. We’ve seen first-hand what can happen to you if you ignore basic safety procedures, and trust me, you don’t want that. For this install, you’re getting a two for one deal. We’ll be changing not only the front shocks, but we’ll also be replacing the fuel filter as well. Both are located relatively near one another, and we like making life a little easier on you when we can. To do these installs, you’ll need your personal protective equipment (PPE), various wrenches, a ratchet, a floor jack with a jack stand, a lug wrench or tire iron, and about an hour of maintenance time. With all of these items checked off, let’s begin. This install is going to be done on a 2008 Duramax.


Like any mechanical component in a vehicle, shocks provide vital support for the truck while on the road and get worn out over time. Hit a pothole while driving on bad shocks and you’ll know exactly what I mean. Shocks resist the motion of the spring and the frame of your truck. It’s absolutely necessary to keep note of how long your shocks have been mounted. If they’ve been on for too long, just think of a low-rider with hydraulics bouncing the front end up and down. If your shocks are worn out and not functioning to their specification, your truck may be doing a little bouncing of its own.

Now that you know the basic function of a shock, let’s replace one. Your first order of business is to chock your tires to ensure they won’t do any moving around on you when you have your truck jacked up. Next, using your lug wrench, loosen the lugs on your tire, but don’t take them off yet. It’s better to loosen them while there is still weight on the wheel. Now, set your floor jack under a sturdy portion of the frame and prepare your jack stand. Jack the truck up where the tire is free from the ground (an inch or two off the ground should suffice). Fully remove the lugs and place them and the tire in a safe place, away from your work area.

Your shock will be mounted vertically and placed behind the A-frame. At the bottom of the shock, you’ll see a large bolt that fastens perpendicular to the shock. Grab your ratchet and remove the bolt and set it aside; you’ll be using that when you install the new shock. Next, pull the bottom of the shock away from its housing, which frees the shock for removal after your next step. Now move to the top of the shock and, with your open-ended wrench, remove the fitting at the top of the shock. With that removed, pull the shock down, remove the shock rod from its fitting, seperate the shock from the truck and set it away from your work area. With the area ready for the new install, let’s move to our next project.

Fuel Filter

On our Duramax, our stock fuel filter is located at the bottom right of the engine compartment. Normally, you would have to go under the hood and finagle through wiring harnesses, electrical components and piping. There is, however, “more than one way to cook a turkey” and we’ve removed a portion of the fender wall, which we’ve fitted with bolts for easy replacement when our new fuel filter is installed.

The fuel filter’s job is a little self-explanatory. Its main responsibility is to filter your diesel before it goes to the engine for combustion. Fortunately, if you decide to do a little bit of fabrication and cut an access door through the fender wall, you’ll find easy access to the filter, which will drastically decrease maintenance time and ultimately make life easier. Now that we know where it is, let’s figure out what we have to do.

Removing and replacing the fuel filter may be one of the easiest jobs you’ll ever do. All you’ll need for this install is your PPE and a band wrench (possibly). If you go through the fender wall, you may be able to torque the fuel filter free with a little muscle power. The filter is screwed in, and if it’s too tight, a band wrench will be needed to free the old filter from its fitting. Before you unscrew the filter, remove the electrical sensor from the base of the filter. This will be used for your new filter, so make sure that you take the necessary precautions when removing it. With the sensor safe and out of the way, unscrew the old filter and remove it carefully. Take note that there will be some residual diesel fuel at the top of the filter and may spill, so pay close attention. Diesel is pretty amazing stuff, but I doubt it tastes very good and getting it in your eyes won’t feel very good.

With the old filter removed, screw the new filter in place and reconnect the sensor to it. The filter should be snugly fit into the housing, but make sure not to over torque it. This may strip the threading and may force you to buy another filter. With the new filter in place, replace the section of fender wall that you removed and secure it back in place. Now, going back to the shock install, simply repeat the removal steps in reverse and make sure to tighten the fittings enough to ensure they do not rattle while you drive. Replace and fasten your tire and the job is finished. These installs are simple, but very important. Every part on your truck is built for your safety and proper operation of the vehicle, so proper care and maintenance is essential. And while you’re out there doing these installs, remember, safety is paramount. So good luck out there and be safe.

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