About a month ago I noticed that my Escalade started riding like….well like a truck. Every bump I hit felt like I ran over a 2 foot pot hole. It was so bad I thought I was going to break something so I hurriedly took it to the dealership. The diagnosis was all four shocks had gone bad. This really baffled me as I had only put 50,000 miles on the truck. Shocks last 65-70k easily. My service advisor told me that I had a special type of shock and they typically wear out between 50-55K. He then told me the price to replace these “special” shocks….are you ready for this……$4,500. That’s right, forty five stacks. What the hell is in these “special” shocks?!?!?!?! I smelled BS so I took the “estimate” and left.
When I got home I started researching the “special” shocks on the Cadillac forums. Lo and behold I have “special” shocks. They are called magnetically controlled dampers (MRC) which is just a big ass word for SHOCKS but they are “special”. I won’t bore you with the intricate definitions but simply say they are different in that they are basically computer controlled rams with magnetic fluid. Each one is $500-$600 depending on where you get them from. Here’s the kicker though, they are not on all four corners. NOPE, you have two up front and a different set of shocks in the rear. They are MRC but they are also air shocks to keep the rear level if you have big butts in the third row......or you are towing something which is basically the same thing.
I can’t believe I have to drop $4500 to get my Caddy to ride like a Caddy again. I am about to pay money equal to a used car for 4 “shocks”. That is CRAZY!!!!! I keep researching to find alternatives. There are non MRC shocks that work just as well but if you put them on the computers will recognize they are not MRC and turn on your check suspension light. You have to purchase a by-pass circuit and install that between the shock and the plug on the shock. To me that seems like a bad way to go so I kept researching. I checked all of the auto parts stores but their prices were in line with the dealership or they had to order from the dealer plus a mark-up which defeated the purpose of me coming to them. On the forum someone mentioned a couple of on line retailers that had knock offs BUT I ain’t trusting a knock off on my Escalade.
In the meantime I keep driving the truck knowing it rides like doo-doo. It’s gotten so bad that I drive over train tracks like grandmamma, less than a mile an hour. You can feel your teeth clanking in your mouth it’s that bad. On some roads I am so familiar with the dips and bumps I instinctively sit up in the seat so as to not jar my spine. One particular day Syd tells me to pick her up from another school, she’s a cheerleader now. I get to the school. It’s raining and it’s dark. I don’t know they have speed HUMPS until I hit the first one at 10 MPH. The front end takes off in the air like a 64 Impala on switches.
I am looking at the sky. Reflexively I hit the brakes…bad move. The front slams down and the rear end comes over the bump like the front end. The trucks rear end is in the air like a stripper. BAM it drops to the ground. SHIT!!!! I know I broke something. I get out and look but nothing is broken. I drive around the school campus and nothing feels broken. Syd calls, “Where are you?” Turns out I am at the wrong school. She is at her school and the game I thought she was cheering is three days from now. I damn near tore up my truck at the wrong school and now I have to slow walk this truck back over these speed mountains. After we get home I immediately start looking harder for a solution otherwise I am dropping 45 stacks at the dealership and that is not pleasing to the bank account.
On the forums someone mentions that you can get factory originals from Amazon.com for half of the price that everyone else is charging. I jump on Amazon and there they are BUT like everything else there is a catch. They don’t tell you what the part number is for your specific model. As it turns out there are regular shocks on certain models of the Escalade and then there is mine with the MRC so I go back to the forums. They tell you how to look at certain codes that are stenciled in the glove box and then look at the Amazon part for that code. After several back and forth trips to the truck and then the website I finally determine the correct part numbers and order the shocks for 1/2 the price everyone else is charging. Two days later they come in and I take them to a local mechanic I know. It takes him four hours to install the shocks and $1,300 in parts and labor later my Escalade rides like….well an Escalade!!!!
Sometimes you have to go to the dealer and sometimes you have to do your research and determine if you are being fleeced. In my case they were honest, it simply was the dealer markup I couldn’t wrap my head around.