Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How do you adjust the Rancho shocks and what is the best setting?

Each RS9000, RS9000X or RS9000XL shock has a small adjustment knob fitted to the base of the shock body. You simply turn the knob with your fingers. No special tools are needed, and you don't need to remove the shock from the vehicle in order to make the adjustments. Usually it takes 60 seconds to go around and adjust all four units.

The adjustment knob has numbered settings embossed into its face (nine different positions). There is also a small arrow stamped into the shock body so you can align the adjustment dial setting you want to the arrow.

Number 1 is the softest setting and can be achieved by twisting the knob as far as possible anti-clockwise. The firmer settings are achieved then by turning the knob clockwise. Position 9 is the firmest.

After a few months from fitment, the reality of your shocks appearance is that they could be covered with dirt, grime, or mud, making it hard to see the numeric numbers embossed on the ride-adjustment knob or the small arrow mark stamped into the shock body.

Don't worry. Remember, twisting the knob as far as you can go anti-clockwise takes you to the softest setting (number 1). Then, you can feel the clicks when twisting clock-wise from there, '2-3-4-5' etc. so you will know which position you are at. This means that even with your eyes closed, you can adjust the shocks precisely to your personal preference.

Which settings are best for certain purposes?

Usually you make adjustments to the shock based on four variables.

  • The amount of weight or load carried. This includes accessories fitted, passengers, gear, tools and towing. Extra weight places greater demand on your 4WD's springs, requiring more control or damping from the shocks to ensure good ride-control. Typically, under heavier loads, you are using a setting between positions 5-9.

  • The speed you are travelling verses the terrain type. For example, highway and freeway driving is typically high speed work (unless you live in Los Angles!) and the roads are smooth. In this instance, look to firmer settings for more sports-car like handling. Firmer settings provide better control at high speed, and because the roads are smooth, little spring action is required - so tight control over the springs is OK.

  • Inherent characteristics in a vehicle type or 4WD brand. Like people, most vehicles have their quirks. Suspension systems not excluded. (Too soft. Too stiff. Too jerky etc.) On some vehicles with IFS (independent front suspension) there can be complaint about how soft the front-end of the vehicles control and handling is. With the Rancho adjustable shocks fitted, you can dial the units firmer to compensate to a reasonable degree. Or, if the vehicles springs are notably stiff, you can soften the shocks in many circumstances, for a much more comfortable ride.

  • A combination of all the above. Driving on gravel and corrugated roads often requires good control and handling (firmer settings), yet some 'give' in the suspension (softer settings) is also required or the vehicle may track and skitter. To achieve the best compromise between control and comfort, the load in the vehicle, the speed you are travelling at, and the inherent characteristics of the vehicle all play a part in deciding which settings are ideal to achieve the best compromise between control and comfort in this instance.
From experience, in any situation, you are always looking for as comfortable as possible, while maintaining good stability.

Mantra... You are always looking for as comfortable as possible, while maintaining good stability.

.....You are always looking for as comfortable as possible, while maintaining good stability.

.....You are always looking for as comfortable as possible, while maintaining good stability.

Sounds too complicated? It is only a matter of a little experience before you are the master of 'optimum' settings. Plus, if the shocks you purchase aren't adjustable, what would you do if you weren't happy with their performance?

Usually our customers will play with the shocks like a kid with a new toy for a few days. Then they will have confidence in the settings that they choose.

I recommend that when you first receive your Rancho RS9000XL shocks, set them to mid-range (position 5). This is probably the closest to the amount of control you get from the original factory-fitted shocks. Then, from this mid-range setting you can simply 'up' or 'down' the shocks according to your needs.

Don't be afraid to try different settings front/rear either.

Posted by Kirk Barker.

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  1. Hi Kirk,
    great advice, thank-you. I just installed front and rear RS9000XL with quicklift and am trying to find the optimum settings. I have an ARE DCU cab and KargoMaster Rack, plus SuperSprings Add a leaf in the rear. Currently it is very bouncy, and I am trying to adjust to a firmer setting

  2. I could just imagine how comfortable the ride will be with a shock setting desired for the above situations. Experience is certainly the key to it.

  3. I just got a set. Found 7 is a happy set and forgive setting. Best thing i ever did on my 06 F150 4Fwd

  4. Shocks make your vehicle very versatile. The settings you recommended are very commendable.

  5. Thanks for sharing this!I'm not good in adjusting Rancho shock same in Rancho Suspension... good thing I find this post.

  6. I have been looking at the Rancho RS9000xl shocks for my F250 460 xlt 4x4 with twin-i-beam front end. I have no idea which leaf spring brand is softer between the skyjacker softride leaf spring and tuff country leaf spring but i saw someone say that the stock springs are softer then aftermarket, can anyone help me out??

  7. Mine are stuck! Knobs are locked up. I cant adjust my shocks. What would cause this? Its my auto lifts in the front.

  8. Mine is stuck up at 4.. How to fix it?

  9. my rear shocks are acting like setting "1" when set to max of "9" . Been on the truck for about 3K miles. What do you think is the problem with them?

  10. What setting works best for an 85 GMC crew cab long bed with 12 inches lift and 38.5 mickys?? I'm having issues with it being jerkey and floaty when I hit bumps.

    1. Mine act same way on a 2007 Tahoe they are just junk no fixing the issue with them.

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  13. Total garbage either too stiff with bounce or floats like a boat with more bounce. No control on rebound no matter what settings I choose. Very unhappy and biggest 600 waste I have ever spent on a vehicle. My 130k miles old factory z71 shock is still better when worn out. Rancho should be ashamed of this product.