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Pls. Look At My Shocks!


Well-known member
May 18, 2003
Orange County, CA
1991 Turquoise Metallic Coupe
Please give me your honest evaluation of my FX3 Shocks. I have attached photos. It is from my 1991 C4 with 49k miles on it. The shocks are original FX3 Bilsteins.

I took my Corvette to my mechanic for some electrical work. He told me that my front shocks are shot! He said there was a large amount of shock fluid that has flowed down the tubes and thus the shocks need immediate replacement.

Please look at the photos:

The first photo is the rear shock. Compare this to the last photo which is the front shock (both fronts look the same). Is the amount of soot/grime/grease normal on the front shocks?

As a follow up, the car's handling seems okay. The 3 settings on the FX3 systems do work as in, there is a noticeable difference in all 3 settings.

I do feel that the Touring setting is a bit too soft and bouncy when I hit big bumps/dips especially at higher speeds. At the Performance setting, they are rock hard. The Sport (middle) setting seems to give the best performance although there seems to be a bit of float at high speeds and bigger bumps.

Because I have never ridden/driven an FX3 equipped C4 with fully functioning/new shocks, I can't tell very well whether the shocks are good or bad. However, in the back of my mind I feel the shocks should not have that floaty feeling at high speed AND should not be bouncy in the Touring setting.

I hope you guys can help me. I can't trust my mechanic 100% because I know he has his vested interest in charging me more work on my car. He overcharges me about 15-20% for parts and wanted to charge me $500 for each shock (shea right), and $500 for parts to replace the suspension bushings on EACH CORNER of my Corvette. Although, he does quality work and I have never had to bring my car back to him for re-work. I can tell he is very eager to work on my car's suspension as he is smelling chee-ching! $$$. When I told him I could get the FX3 shocks for $200 each he was shocked!
First the rear shocks will always be cleaner then the fronts because they are not in the air stream from other cars. Based on what I can see of the A arms and the shock I would think that what you see is a normal amount of dirt on the front shocks. My suspension looked very much like that when I bought my car with 67K on it. The previuos owner had not cleaned the suspension or shocks off. I got some degreaser and used a garden hose to clean off the dirt. I have put 20K on the car since and occasionally will clean the shock. Short version is that by cleaning and watching I found that the shocks were working and not leaking.:)
spray it clean at the pressure car wash and drive it for a week or two. Then see if it's leaking.
I just replaced all 4 Bilsteins on my 88. They looked about the same as yours. The front units had virtually zero resistance when I got em off. I replaced mine with KYB shocks. Cheaper than Bilstein, and much better quality than a Monroe or Gabriel shock.

The ride and handling improvement was amazing!

Good luck
Based on what I can see of the A arms and the shock I would think that what you see is a normal amount of dirt on the front shocks. :)

There is not enough fluid in a shock to make the mess on your front suspension and Blistein tells you that the shocks will leak a bit. Pull em off and check em.

There is a machine called a suspension dyno in Europe (no idea what it is called in the US) that will test the shock and give you a graphic print out of what it is doing. Any Racing team that is serious about winning will have one and most of them will take outside work. If you cain`t find anybody on your side of the pond pull em off and send to me. I will run them on my machine.(not during race season)

Blistein will rebuild the shocks for you as well. When they rebuild them they will port them most anyway you want. I had mine rebuilt and am totally happy with their work.

And yes mine have a bit of oil and filth build up after only 18k miles.
Thanks guys.

I will clean it up and see what happens then. It just looks awfully grimey, which I can't remember happening on any of my other cars.

Also, I have already budgeted to replace the FX3 shocks with new ones from Bilstein. However, after reading up on some of the issues that may happen, I would really hate to 1) replace shocks that don't need replacement 2) replace them and have one of the actuators act up.

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