How To Adjust ATV Shocks Without Tool? [Beginners Guide]

All ATV shocks or suspensions come pre-adjusted from the factory, which is fine. But some prefer a smoother suspension, while others might prefer stiffer suspension. Well, suspensions are adjustable. But can you adjust the socks without any tools?

Adjusting the suspension needs enough leverage. So, adjusting it without any tools will be a tough job. You can use a spring adjuster C spanner tool to do that. Or else, if there is a rebound and compression clicker adjustment knob, use that.

Before starting the shock tuning, you should know other factors and the proper technique. To know all that, read till the end. Let’s start! 

How ATV Shocks Work?— Understand it First

Most ATVs come with four coil-over shocks or suspensions, meaning each wheel has dedicated shocks. Shocks mainly have two parts— Springs and Dampers. This dampening is also called a shock absorber. 

And when you’re riding your ATV on a rock hill, trails, mud, or even sand, these two major parts of the shocks work together. So, when you hit a bump, the shock absorber absorbs all the shock. 

During that time, the spring gets compressed and decompressed, so that the frame doesn’t get the bumpy impact as well as the rider. Simply put, this suspension gives the tires more traction. That gives the rider quite a grip on the road while accelerating faster.

And there are expensive shocks where you’ll find compression and rebound damping, both with a click adjuster. You can adjust the compression and rebound of the shock with knobs. So, below are the parts that you can adjust.


Preload determines how much tension you want to put on the suspension before you ride it on rough terrain through bumps and dips. You can adjust the ground clearance with preload settings.


Compression on a shock absorber handles the force that is needed to squeeze the shock absorber. Higher compression settings will make shock absorption softer, and slower settings will make it stiffer. 


When the shock absorbs the hit from the bump, the rebound controls the timing of the absorption and returns it to the suspension.

Can ATV Shocks be Adjusted Without Using Any Tools?

Adjusting the ATV shocks or suspension without any tools will be a tough nut to crack. That’s because adjusting the preload requires enough leverage, and with one hand only, that’s a daydream.

However, you can adjust that with a rubber or leather strap wrench. But the most useful tool is the spring adjuster C spanner tool. You need two of these to adjust the preload spring.

Adjusting the suspension without any tools is only possible with shocks that come with compression and rebound clicker adjustments. 

But why is it called clicker adjustment? You’ll hear clicks when you turn the knobs from high to stiff or reverse. There is a fixed number of clicks for both of these clicker adjusters.

How to Adjust the ATV Shocks Without Any Tool?

You can adjust ATV shocks without any tools if the shock comes with rebound and compression adjustments. These are called clicker adjustments. However, you must use a tool to adjust the preloader because tuning it requires more leverage power.

So, with only your hands, it’ll be tough to do that unless that preload adjuster is super smooth to rotate. You can use a rubber strap wrench if you don’t have a spring adjuster tool.

Before starting the tuning process, you must take a ride and sense how the shocks handle the terrain. Then, follow the steps below.

  • Adjust proper tire pressure on each wheel.
  • Take a spring spanner adjuster C spanner tool or a rubber strap wrench to adjust the ride height and preloader.
  • Moving the preload adjuster wheel towards the lower will tighten the spring if you’re riding mostly on bumpy roads.
  • Rotating it towards the higher position will loosen the spring. You can make the ride smoother if you don’t take too many sharp corners. After that, make sure to tighten the adjuster wheel.
  • The rebound adjustment will be at the bottom of the shocks. Turn the knob to H or F to return the shock faster. Or turning the knob towards the S marking will return the shock slower.
  • Turning the compression knob to the Fast or H direction will make the shock go faster to the fully compressed position. And turning it in the Slow direction will make it stiffer on bigger bumps.

Note:  Count the number of clicks on the rebound and compression adjusters. Turn on both to the lowest clicks. Then, turn and leave the adjustment in the middle. So, if the rebound adjuster has 20 clicks, adjust it to 10 and do the same for compression.

After tuning the suspensions, take a ride and check if the adjustment is okay. If not, adjust those again until you get the perfect result.

What to Remember While Adjusting the ATV Shocks to Make the Ride Smoother?

You must remember a couple of things while tuning your ATV. You must know how much to adjust the preload. 

Well, that depends primarily on your riding style. Adjusting the preload over the stock settings will overwhelm your riding experience.

Riding Style

Some ride the ATV only to race, while others prefer to run it on bumpy roads. You must adjust the preload lower if you want more traction while racing. That will make the spring stiffer.

However, if you’re a sportsperson who likes to ride it like a horse and loves bumpy roads, you should adjust the preload higher. That will loosen the spring and give a smooth riding experience, even on rock trails.

Know the Minimum & Maximum Adjustment

If you’re using stock shocks, read the owner’s manual for the minimum and maximum preload height adjustments. Or, check the manufacturer’s manual in case you’re using the after-market suspensions.

Start adjusting from the manufacturer’s standard settings for the after-market shocks and tune it from there.

Adjust the Shocks Equally

Adjust both front shocks equally, and do the same for rear suspensions. Otherwise, you might face serious wobbling while riding.

Tighten the Preload Locker Ring

After the adjustment, tighten the spring or preload the locker ring. For that, follow the recommended torque specification from the manufacturer’s manual.


Now you know how to adjust ATV shocks without a tool and how to do it. Besides, you should know the following questions and answers regarding the ATV shocks.

How does preload adjustment affect weight transfer on an ATV?

Less preload on the rear suspensions increases weight transfer to the rear wheels under acceleration improvements. Decreasing preload on the front shocks increases weight transfer to the outside tire, which improves traction.

Does the older shock model have clicker adjustment?

Most modern and high-end shocks or suspensions come with clicker adjustment with a nut, bolt, or screw. But older models have only a preload adjuster with a threaded collar for adjustment.

Which shock is better, stiff or soft?

It mainly depends on the rider’s riding style. Bumpy riders prefer mid-stiffer adjustment, while others set the shocks to the softer settings.

Final Words

Finally, you know how to adjust the ATV suspension without a tool. For perfect tuning, you must adjust, ride, and then tune again. 

Please remember not to adjust preloader, rebound, and compression to the highest or lowest settings.

Or, you might end up with damaged shocks that require rebuilding. So, adjust safely and always keep the suspension within the limit. Ride safe, have fun!

Read Also:

How To Charge ATV Battery Without a Charger? [Power Up Now]

How to Bypass CDI Box on Chinese ATV? [Quick ATV Hack]

Similar Posts