Items Needed - Shocks:
- MONROE Max-Air MA726 air shock, Qty 2 (come in pairs)
- Monroe Shocks & Struts Monroe AK18 Shock Absorber Air Hose Kit (depending how you run your air lines, but I did end up needing some additional hose from this kit which is ⅛” line)
- ¼” split loom
- 2- 3” x ½” grade 8 bolts with 2 washers and flange nut
- 2 - 3.5” x ½” grade 8 bolts with 4 washers and flange nut
- ½” drill bit
Items Needed - Sway Bar:
- Rear sway bar from 2002-2007 GM part # 21990361 (Equinox, Vue, Torrent). Best to find in junkyard so that you get the bushings and mounting brackets with it. I pulled mine from a local yard for $12.99.
- Sway bar end links from same vehicle
- 2 - Uni-strut ½” Angled L-brackets
- 1 - Uni-strut straight brackets (5-pk)
- 4 - 7/16” x 2” bolts with 2 washers each and nylon locking nuts
- 2 - pieces of ¼” aluminum to use as backing plates (2” x 5” w/ two 7/16” holes to match the sway bar mounting brackets)
DISCLAIMER: My Think is already lifted and therefore my shock length measurements that I used to find the air shocks are longer than stock. If I remember correctly there wasn’t any version of the shock that was shorter so if you follow this, you’ll end up having a taller ride height.
I somewhat recently picked up a Think for cruising around town with the family. Overall it is in great shape however there were a few things needing attention. After some brake repairs I wanted to focus on the suspension. I know I could hit up NEV Accessories for their shocks but I’ve heard they aren’t the greatest quality and the price tag seems crazy high, especially replacing all four. The upgrades listed here DRAMATICALLY increased the ride quality of the cart and the overall handling as well.
It had factory coilovers (w/ spacers) which were badly worn. The Think is lifted and runs larger wheels to accommodate the disc brake kit up front so I needed something that could work with that. I’ve seen posts where people used the Gabriel Hijacker air shocks however the part # recommended is no longer available. I did some research in both the Gabriel and Monroe catalogs and found that the MONROE Max-Air MA726 air shock is almost a perfect fit for a lifted THINK. It has the stem mount up top and the eye mount on bottom however the eye is a smidge too wide for the control arm. I used a flap disc on the grinder and made quick work of removing about 1/16” off each side of each shock.
Also the shock eye is ½” but the control arm is for an M14 (I think). Using a ½” drill bit I widened the hole in the control arm just a smidge to be able to use grade 8, 3” x ½” bolts. I used 3.5” bolts for the rear two as they also hold the sway bar brackets.
Once the shocks were in, it was pretty easy to run the air lines following their instructions. I also ran all the air lines in wire loom to protect them from chafing. Here’s where the sway bar comes into play. The air shocks by themselves have a tendency to allow the cart to lean to the outside when cornering, to the point on mine where the CV axles in the back would bind up and eventually I broke the cage in one. For a while I ran the air shocks individually by installing fittings as shown here and this worked but still allowed for the lean if you weren’t too careful when cornering.
The better option was to install a sway bar and then plumb the front shocks together and rear shocks together as the air shock instructions initially show. I ran the inflator valves from the shock kit to the rear trunk and keep little Ryobi battery inflator in there if we ever need to top off.
The sway bar install requires a little more fabrication work but is still relatively simple. Even the welding part could be done by a newbie (me) or taken to a weld shop for very little cost. The first thing was to make brackets for the end links to attach to. For this I took the uni-strut L-bracket and placed two straight brackets on either side and welded them together as shown in the pics. I made sure to not weld the straight brackets “inside” the L, but outside to give me as much room for the shock mounting bolt washer to sit. Once cleaned up, I painted them with some Rustoleum.
With these fabbed up, I installed the new brackets onto the lower shock mount. Because the control arm casting isn’t flat, I had to install two washers between the link bracket and the control arm. With the THINK on jack stands and wheels still off, I compressed the suspension to the approximate ride height so that I could ensure I bolted the brackets at the right angle so that the end link mounting surface was parallel to the sway bar arm which is just a few degrees rearward of the control arm top surface
Next I installed the end links onto the sway bar then into the fabbed sway bar brackets, snugging them down slightly. This helped get everything even from side to side and front to back. I used a jack to hold the sway bar in place while I marked my holes on the THINK frame rails. After a quick center punch, then pre-drill, I drilled them to allow the 7/16” mounting bolts. I also made some quick backing plates out of the ¼” aluminum stock I had laying around. I did that because the frame rails just didn’t look very stout to me and I don’t want the downward pulling of the sway bar to deform the frame. I’m no engineer so this may be overkill but it makes me feel more warm and fuzzy about it.
Lastly I bolted everything in place and aired it up. I am still playing with the pressures but I am running on the high side. Technically the air shocks max at 150psi. I seem to be running around 125psi in the rear and 150psi in the front.
Some things to note.
- These air shocks are the shortest I could find. Running the above pressures gets me to the ride height that I feel the most comfortable at for the sake of the axles, doesn’t throw the rear camber way off and just looks the best with the wheel & tires I have. With that being said it only leaves a couple inches of downward travel. Being as air shocks are progressive rate this hasn’t been too much of an issue with bottoming out however I’m 100% street use. I am considering moving the upper shock mounts up a couple inches to get more travel as the shock has plenty but I haven’t decided yet.
- I’m watching to see how the system holds air over time. It definitely holds better using the air lines than it did with the individual fitting but if it ends up being something that needs air all the time, I’ll look into some sort of on board compressor.
Overall I am super happy with the results and the ride quality now. The best part is that it really didn’t cost that much, WAY less than NEV’s coil over option. If anyone has questions, I’m more than happy to answer!