Recently we have had a few cars coming in for service with blown shocks. Most had aftermarket shocks but one had factory shocks as well. The rebuild frequency depends on how you use your car but without fail, all suspensions do need rebuild at some point. We have sold 100s of Nitrons over the years yet we have rebuilt only a couple dozen as most people don’t realize that their shocks are in need of rebuild. The degradation happens slowly and we adjust our driving style to accommodate.
Many of us have upgraded our factory suspensions with adjustable systems from Nitron, Ohlins, Racetech, Penske, etc. These shocks all need rebuilds at intervals that are based on your driving style/mileage. Factory shocks typically need to be rebuilt after 50k miles but we are seeing them aging out as well on the Elise. Aftermarket shocks typically should be rebuilt every 3-4 years for most of us. If you are racing for checkered flags, we would recommend a yearly rebuild. This will ensure your shocks are in proper condition to maximize your cars potential.
Why do these shocks need to be rebuilt sooner than OE shocks? Seals, oils and gas charges all will degrade with use or even time. Cars that are driven hard on track will also heat up the internals and oil to the point of needing rebuild. If you are one of the fast guys and love to bang your car off the curbing you should consider even more frequent rebuilds.
What are indications that your shocks are blown? One obvious issue is leaking shocks. When the oil starts to leak, it will make a mess. You will have dirt collecting all over the suspension area. Another indication is ride height that has sagged. Sometimes all shocks will start to sag, other times one shock will degrade faster. Having your alignment checked yearly is one way to check this.
Rebuild cost is not something many of us consider when we buy aftermarket shocks. But this additional cost is the price we pay for more adjustability and hopefully superior handling.