QA1 Quad Adjust Shocks: Getting More Control From Your Suspension

qa1quadadjshocks-leadartEvery year, we get the opportunity to travel to Las Vegas for the annual SEMA show. One of the highlights of the trip is when we get to find out what new products are being unveiled, and by whom. Each year, when we think that there is no way that anything new can “wow” us, and we end up eating our words. Last November, we were impressed to find out that QA1 has found a way to improve the shock absorber. We know what you’re thinking, “a shock is a shock is a shock, right”?  Not actually and here’s why.


Every shaft in every shock absorber is checked for precision accuracy.

To keep it simple, all shock absorbers are nothing more than a hydraulic pump-like device that helps to control the bounce movement of your vehicle’s suspension. More often than not, your shock absorbers on your car are usually an afterthought. Let’s face it, when was the last time you changed the shocks on your daily driver?

Granted, we’re not here to talk about daily drivers, but not only is ride quality of your daily driver a paramount function of a shock, but for a performance driver, keeping the vehicle’s tires in contact with the road surface at all times is a “must-have” quality. Although all shock absorbers are tasked with the same function, the use of a shock absorber on vehicles with different types of suspensions does require that different types of shock absorbers be designed. For that reason, they can look radically different.

No matter the application, there are in actuality two basic types of shocks: adjustable and non adjustable. Well, they really come as telescopic, strut type, and spring seat (coilover), but for this article, we will be focusing on adjustable shocks.

Adjustable Shocks

While the term adjustable might be misleading, adjustable shocks do not adjust ride height – a shock absorber does not support the weight of the car. In actuality, the adjustability is in regards to the way the shock reacts to a bump, road irregularity, and/or driving characteristics. How it works, is that inside the shock is oil that flows through an orifice as the shock compresses or extends. The size of the orifice and the viscosity of the oil is what determines how much resistance the shock has to the compression or extension (rebound) force.

All QA1 shocks are hand-built by American craftsman to insure a quality part every time.

The adjustability of a shock comes about when changing the size of the orifice to either increase or decrease the oil flow. This change makes for more or less resistance to rebound or compression. This adjustability means that you can compensate for stiffer springs by making the compression damping softer and the rebound stiffer. But wait, there’s more…

A single-adjustable shock only has the capability to adjust the amount of damping for rebound and compression. This limits its adjustability, as it is not able to differentiate between the two forces. A single-adjustable shock is a simple, but limited, way to address the needs of compression and rebound tuning.

How it works, is that the shock body has a single knob on it with a series of adjusting points. These points allow you to control the damping capabilities anywhere from a low to high damping setting. By turning the knob, you can customize your setting to fit the car’s suspension tuning needs. This gives you a much better responding car and a more stable feeling ride.

Double-adjustable shocks are an improvement over single adjustable units, as they allow full and individual adjustability of both compression and rebound damping. These types of shocks usually have two knobs, one for compression adjustment, and one for rebound. Double-adjustable shocks are a great way to tune exactly how much damping you need in both directions. When fitted on all four wheels you can truly set up your car for forward and rearward bias and damping in both directions.

Do You Really Need Adjustable Shocks?

For many enthusiasts, the question as to whether or not they need adjustable shocks causes uncertainty. Do you really need adjustable shocks for a car that only races on weekends? That’s a good question, and the answer hinges on the premise of whether the car owner likes to win on weekends.


Double adjustable shocks used to be the ultimate for suspension adaptability. QA1 has taken that science even further

The occasional racer might feel that the added expense of an adjustable shock might not be worth it. But, a QA1 adjustable shock doesn’t actually cost much more than a good non-adjustable unit. Having a car with the feature of a suspension with some adjustability is one very good reason to have adjustable shocks.

Overall, the benefit of having either single- or double-adjustable shocks is that you can drive your car with them at one setting all week, and then when you go to a driving event, be it autocross, drag race, or whatever, you can crank up the damping for the track conditions of the day. Essentially, by having an adjustable shock, you have taken your daily driver and turned it into a corner carving track car or a potentially quicker quarter-mile car. At the end of the day, turn a couple of knobs and drive home—comfortably.

State-of-the-art machining assures a great American-made product.

We hear some of you asking “Is there something even better?” We’re glad you asked, and yes there is. Would you believe that QA1 has come up with a four-setting adjustable shock? The new Quad Adjust shock is made of high quality aluminum, which makes them not only lightweight, but also very durable. The highlight of this design is that the Quad Adjust shock has two rebound adjustment knobs to adjust both high and low shock speeds.

Low- and high-speed compression are terms that relate to how fast the shock is compressed. When a shock encounters a high shaft-speed this creates more damping. This condition is not necessarily relative to vehicle speed, it could be encountered when hitting a pot hole or curb. A low-speed shaft situation would be encountered by a situation like cornering, where your car leans. This means that this shock is almost infinitely adjustable.

The two knobs located on the attached reservoir are there to adjust both high and low shock speeds. The two knobs on the shock itself are to adjust the compression and rebound speeds. All four knobs offer independent adjustability.

But, once you bolt these new shocks on your car, do you know how to adjust them? There are a couple factors that occur during a race that can be attributed to an adjustment to your shock absorbers; understeer and oversteer.

oversteer_understeer copyOversteer is realized when the rear wheels are turning at a larger arc than the front wheels or the intended line of the turn. Basically, the rear of the car feels loose, and is all but sliding around the corner. Understeer is felt when the front wheels are turning at a larger arc than the rear wheels. In other words, the front end slides and does not adequately turn.

Each QA1 shock absorber is constructed by hand. The capillary tube is placed in the shock absorber to aid in fluid flow-control. When the shock is compressed and extended, the movement of fluid within the shock is turbulent. The moving piston causes the flow to contain eddying motions of all sizes (much like when a river flows past a large obstruction).

A large part of the mechanical energy contained in the flow is wasted as it goes into the formation of these eddies. This varying flow eventually dissipates their energy as heat. As a result, the drag of a turbulent flow is higher than the drag of a laminar flow.

The fact that our warranty rate is almost non-existent is a testament to the care we take with each and every product we manufacture. -Dave Kass

The addition of a capillary tube allows the fluid to travel in a laminar condition, helping eliminate the eddying situation of the shock’s oil when the piston travels through its motions. All of QA1’s street performance and racing adjustable shocks and struts are manufactured to be fully serviceable and rebuildable.

If you think that your QA1 shock needs rebuilt, QA1 has trained and authorized shock rebuilders located throughout the country, and they can get you can get up and running again in no time. Having a rebuildable shock definitely saves you money in the long run–why would you initially buy a shock that will eventually need replaced? With a QA1 shock absorber, if the time comes that it doesn’t function like new, you can simply rebuild it.

The piston rod assemblies are all pre-assembled before they are installed into the shock. This station is where the closure nut, gland, valve discs, and piston are all gathered and assembled onto the piston's rod. This process is done before the piston-and-rod assembly gets put in the shock

QA1-4way032The two knobs that are installed on the body of the shock itself are there to adjust the Rebound speeds of the shock. This is for high- and low-speed rebound. QA1 shocks have 18 damping settings per knob and are labeled “C” for compression, “R” for rebound.

There are 6 clicks per revolution of each knob, and each knob has 3 complete revolutions. When the knob is fully turned counter clockwise, that is the softest setting – start your adjustments from this point for the high speed adjustments. Recommended base settings to begin testing with are as follows:

Front Shock Valving Adjustment Suggestions
Compression High Speed Rebound High Speed
Drag Racing: 12-18 clicks 0-6 clicks
Nice Ride and Handling: 0-6 clicks 2-8 clicks
Firm Ride and Improved Handling: 6-12 clicks 8-14 clicks
Aggressive Handling: 13+ clicks 14-18 clicks
Rear Shock Valving Adjustment Suggestions
Compression High Speed Rebound High Speed
Drag Race: 0-6 clicks 0-6 clicks
Nice Ride and Handling: 0-6 clicks 2-8 clicks
Firm Ride and Improved Handling: 6-12 clicks 8-14 clicks
Aggressive Handling: 12-18 clicks 14-18 clicks

Both of the compression control knobs (high speed and low speed), are located on the reservoir. In order to accommodate the four adjustment capability of the shock, the Quad Adjust shock features an external reservoir that is connected to the main shock via a flexible braided hose the swivels at both the shock and the reservoir. The shock is a nitrogen gas pressurized, hybrid twin-tube design with a Schrader valve on the reservoir for quick and easy gas pressure adjustments. QA1-4way023

Finally, if you are concerned about finding a place to mount the reservoir, don’t give it a second thought. By having the reservoir connected to the main shock via a flexible, braided hose, the reservoir can be mounted in any position or location, within the confines of the hose. If you have to mount it upside down, no problem. There are a variety of reservoir mount options, including flat mounts for mounting the reservoir to the firewall, fender well or frame rails, and a tube mount is an option for mounting it to roll cage or engine bay down tubes.

Tuning Tips For Your Shocks

  • If the car’s suspension compresses extensively on the rear outside corner when exiting a corner, you need to increase the rebound damping force at the front inside wheel. By adding rebound damping you slightly loosen the rear of the car on corner exit.
  • If the car’s suspension compresses extensively on the front outside corner during corner entry, you need to increase rebound damping on the rear inside suspension.
  • By adding rebound damping equally to the front on both sides, it will tighten the car when cornering. By adding rebound damping to the rear on both sides equally, it will loosen the car.
  • Note that the shock absorbers do not change the amount of weight transfer, only the time it takes to transfer this weight.
  • Adjust in small increments, and only adjust enough rebound into each shock absorber to eliminate the undesirable characteristic. Adjusting too much rebound may mask a handling problem of another sort and may even be make things worse and dangerous.

The Quad Adjust's segregated reservoir makes mounting the shock absorber easy, no matter the application.

Check out the video below, where Karl Hacken explains the benefits and adjustability of the QA1 Quad Adjust shock absorber. For questions about availability and application, visit the QA1 website for more information.

Article Sources

About the author

Randy Bolig

Randy Bolig has been working on cars and has been involved in the hobby ever since he bought his first car when he was only 14 years old. His passion for performance got him noticed by many locals, and he began helping them modify their vehicles.
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