Why Upgrade to Remote Reservoir Shocks
If you’ve got a 4WD vehicle then you can benefit from an upgrade to remote reservoir shocks. The
improved performance is undeniable—even on the highway—and the benefit of superior ride quality
outweighs the downsides of increased cost and additional maintenance.
With hundreds of bolt-in applications it is easier than ever to add a remote reservoir shock package to your truck, Jeep, or other
4×4. The tested and proven valving packages on bolt-in reservoir shocks make customization easy, and
with the fine tuning of optional adjustments of compression, rebound, and overall firmness, you can
employ a shock package that will make the harshest terrain feel downright good under your 4×4.
Let’s take a look at why you should be interested in remote reservoir shocks for your 4×4 and
break down the particulars of reservoir shock ownership!
What is a Remote Reservoir Shock?
A remote reservoir shock is a shock damper that uses a remote reservoir to house a dividing piston that
separates the shock oil and pressurized gas (almost always nitrogen) within the reservoir. This is
different from non-reservoir shocks which are almost always emulsion shocks. An emulsion shock is one
that allows the gas and oil to mix.
In some less common examples, there are non-emulsion, non-reservoir nitrogen-charged shocks that
use a dividing piston above the traveling shock shaft within the main body of the shock. The problem
with this type of design is that it requires a longer shock body to accommodate the gas pocket, dividing
piston, and the allowed travel of the shock.
Most remote reservoir shocks in the marketplace are rebuildable. That means that not only can you
perform maintenance on them but also change their damping abilities with different valve stacks.
Many higher-end shocks—emulsion and reservoir—are pressurized with nitrogen to inhibit or prohibit
cavitation (air bubbles mixing into the shock oil) and improve the performance as a shock’s valve stack
and piston passes through the oil within the shock body.
Rebuildable aftermarket shocks have Schrader valves to pressurize and adjust the charge that is often
between 100-250psi. Adjusting shock firmness via gas pressure is a crude way to manipulate the ride,
but different nitrogen pressures do change the way shocks perform. Many shock manufacturers
recommend running their products from 150-200psi. Most shocks come pre-charged from the
manufacturer at its recommended pressure. There are companies that offer shock-charging kits that
include small nitrogen tanks and regulators to allow you to adjust shock nitrogen pressure, but most off-
road shops will have nitrogen available on-hand and can adjust your shocks.
Like other high-end automotive equipment, rebuildable shocks require occasional attention. It is
generally recommended that rebuildable shocks are pulled off and serviced every 15,000 miles. Is that
done by most owners? No. Many owners wait until a seal blows or performance diminishes due to a
poorly working shock. That is not a good idea. We have heard of 80,000 miles between service intervals
with all four shocks continuing to hold pressure and not spew too much oil from the seals around the
shock shaft, but that is rare. It obviously depends on what vehicle and how the vehicle is used.
If you are not happy with your shock’s damping performance, pistons valve stacks can be adjusted to get
your ride where you want it.
We can take care of your shock service for you, or you can send them back to the manufacturer.
There are a number of adjustability options that can be found on remote reservoir shocks. Assuming you
have found a favorable valving setup within the shock and aren’t trying to manipulate the ride with
nitrogen pressure, external knobs on the remote reservoirs of smooth-body and coilover shocks can
offer a quick enhancement to your shock’s performance.
If you’re shopping on the top shelf, external-bypass remote reservoir shocks feature adjustable bypass
tubes that can drastically increase damping force as the shaft plunges into the shock body.
Most remote-reservoir shocks stick to a standard sizing practice so they can function with suspension
parts made for such shock sizes. In the off-road world, rebuildable shocks are 2.0, 2.5 (or 2.625), 3.0, 3.5,
4.0, or now even 4.5. This numbers refers to the diameter of the shock body in inches. Most enthusiasts
use either 2.0 or 2.5 shocks, with a growing number of 3.0 users. The larger the shock, the harder the
fitment, but also better the ability to stay cool and not cavitate during rigorous use.
If you’re a Jeep owner we’d recommend trying a 2.0 or 2.5 remote reservoir shock setup. If you’re a
full-size truck owner, we’d opt for a set of 2.5s or even 3.0s.
This is a coilover remote reservoir shock with a high-pressure hose that allows the reservoir to be placed
away from the shock. Try and keep the remote reservoirs of your shocks away from heat and away from
Notice the red ride adjustment knob on the end of the remote reservoir.
An external-bypass shock has bypass tubes on the side of its main body. These bypass tubes allow for
shock oil to bypass through them until the shock piston at the end of the shaft plunges past them. The
bypass tubes have adjustments on the end
You can easily tell a rebuildable shock by the lower end cap of the main body where the shock shaft
protrudes. It has to be removable to be able to rebuild the shock. If the ends of the shock body are
welded on, then it is not a rebuildable shock.
Rebuildable shocks can be serviced to renew it and to adjust the shock valving.
This is a bolt-in remote reservoir shock setup that allowed 2.625 shocks to be installed in the stock
location, without having to change the mounting points.
Remote reservoir shocks are now made with a variety of ends to accommodate stem-mount, standard
eye, or even cross pin mounts.