How Do I Know If My Car Needs New Shocks?

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Malfunctions of shock absorbers greatly affect the behavior of the car on the road. Shock absorbers (otherwise known as a damper) provide not only comfort while driving but also safety.

Efficient shock absorbers ensure that the tires are in constant contact with the road surface so that wheels do not lose traction even on bumps. Knowing when your car needs new shocks is important for your safety and comfort, and we are here to help you with that.

How Long Do Shock Absorbers Last

It would not be smart of us to tell a certain mileage after which it would be necessary to replace the shock absorbers. Everything depends on the driving conditions and smoothness of roads in your location. The more bumps, pits, and potholes on the road, the faster the shock absorbers wear out. But if you really want an estimation, good shocks should last around 70-80k kilometers.

How Do I Know If My Car Needs New Shocks

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You will notice it by the behavior of your car. As soon as your car starts jumping on every bump like a kangaroo, things are very bad. This is a rather rare case as you should have noticed something wrong with the car and have taken it to the mechanic and replaced your shock absorbers much earlier.

1. Vibration

When the seal on the shock absorber piston wears out, hydraulic fluid begins to flow from one reservoir to another. The piston rod becomes loose, meaning the part loses its efficiency and performs its functions only partially.

When driving, this will be noticeable by an increase in vibration and the presence of jolts on the steering wheel. If your shocks are hypersensitive to bumps, check them. They may have already reached their lifespan.

Btw, even manufacturers with a worldwide reputation and high-quality products do not guarantee over 100 thousand km. It’s usually around 70-80 thousand km. Simpler manufacturers have an even shorter lifetime.

2. Car Starts Shifting To The Side When Braking

When the shocks are malfunctioning, even slight braking or steering movement to the side causes the body to sway noticeably. Typical examples of malfunctions include:

  • Strong dive or excessive body rolls on curves.
  • The car begins to reluctantly go into turns.

3. Poor Braking

In case of malfunctioning or poorly working shock absorbers car wheels are no longer pressed tightly to the road surface and begin to hop on it. This leads to short-term tire slippage. The efficiency of brakes drops, and the response time increases greatly.

4. Uneven Tire Wear

Parallel to the drop in brake performance, tire life is also reduced. When driving, the car wheels start to jump and then cling to the asphalt again.

This results in an uneven and increased “consumption” of rubber. Wheel balance is disturbed, bald spots appear on the tire and the hub bearing is also affected as it quickly fails due to constant vibration. Take a close look at the tread of all wheels.

5. Hydraulic Fluid Leakage

A sure sign of a shock absorber failure is fogging and leakage on its body. A leak in the hydraulic fluid reservoir leads to air leaks. As a result, the shock absorber rod begins to move freely, without restrictions, and the part becomes completely inoperative.

A fogged shock absorber can work for some time until you buy a new part, but strong drips indicate that it no longer works.

6. Cracking And Deformation Of The Mounting Bushings

Another symptom of the onset of old age of shock absorbers is the cracking and destruction of mounting rubber-metal bushings and cushions, through which these parts are screwed to the body and suspension.

Wear and tear of these elements lead to the free movement of the entire shock absorber and the appearance of unpleasant knocks. The shock absorber itself can be still good, but not repairable: rubber-metal bushings are usually not sold or changed separately. If that’s the case it’s time to buy new shock absorbers.

Conclusion

If you notice at least one of these symptoms, it is best not to delay a visit to the mechanic. Btw, you should only change them in pairs, two at the front and two at the back or all. Otherwise, the following will occur: 

  • Poor handling, driving, and mediocre braking.

When diagnosing shock absorbers, you should pay close attention to the external inspection (Violation of tightness is the main reason for shock absorber failure). It is also recommended to try to rock the car with your hands, pressing heavily from above on each of the corners of the car’s body, and then sharply releasing it.

If the shock absorber is faulty, the car will swing up and down heavily with a large amplitude. The most precise way to determine the condition of the shock absorber is to remove the part from the car. However, we strongly recommend not to do it yourself if you do not have the proper skills and knowledge. It is better to leave it off to professionals.

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