Signs Of A Worn Suspension: Shocks And Struts
As a car owner, you are well aware that your vehicle needs regular care like tire replacements and oil changes. But, how often do you think about your cars suspension?
Because drivers often think that suspension is only about a smooth ride, this part of the car can be overlooked a lot when it comes to repairs. Your suspension is made up of many parts and can affect the ability to steer and turn the car too.
Your cars suspension basically connects the body of the vehicle to the wheels. Its what gives the driver the ability to steer and move the car. The suspension is made of many things tires, tire air, springs, links, and struts/shock absorbers.
Thats right, struts and shock absorbers are different components. They can be found in separate cars and are not interchangeable.
For example. If you have a car that is built with struts, you cannot replace those broken or worn parts with shock absorbers. So, whats the difference?
Do All Vehicles Have Struts
Not all cars and trucks have struts many suspension designs use separate springs and shock absorbers, with the shocks supporting no weight. Also, some cars use struts only on one pair of wheels, usually the fronts, while the other pair employs a different design using separate springs and shocks. When a car has struts on the front wheels only they are usually MacPherson struts, which are struts that are also considered part of the steering system because the wheels pivot around them.
Why do some vehicles use struts while others have separate springs and shocks? The specifics are complicated but for the most part it comes down to a trade-off between simplicity and initial cost and handling and performance . But there are exceptions to these patterns for example, most sports cars employ whats called a double wishbone suspension, which uses shock absorbers rather than struts, but the Porsche 911, which is arguably the quintessential sports car, uses struts.
Your Cars Tires May Wear Down Faster Than Expected
As your cars shocks and struts deteriorate, you may notice your tires tread start to cup or show other signs of wear and tear. Worn-down tires can make it difficult to safely steer your car, which may result in an accident. Furthermore, defective shocks and struts that contribute to worn-down tires may force you to replace your tires sooner than expected.
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How Can You Know For Certain
For those of you who are very inexperienced in this area and want to know for certain that your vehicle needs these important parts, you can always trust the pros at Auto Lab.
Well be happy to evaluate the condition of your shocks and struts and then explain to you what were seeing and what we recommend and why. You can trust the team at Auto Lab for all your car care needs, whether its an oil change or new struts.
Which New Shocks Or Struts Are Right For Me
The experts over at Monroe have crafted an extensive catalog of replacement shocks and struts. Theyve got something for every type of vehicle, driver, and budget. Backed by the companys Feel The Difference Guarantee, you can buy with confidence knowing that Monroe stands behind the quality of its products.
These pre-assembled struts feature U.S.-grade steel springs, OE-style strut mounts and bearings, and are application-specific no one size fits all nonsense here. Quick Strut assemblies are a direct bolt-on part which saves you time and labor costs. Plus, theyre made to last, thanks to superior materials, corrosion resistant coatings, and OE-quality components.
If youre looking for the maximum bang for your buck option, the Monro-Matic Plus is a high-quality and cost-effective lineup of replacement shocks and struts. Striking the perfect balance between comfort, control, and quality is a tough thing to do these days, but the experts over at Monroe have absolutely hit the nail on the head with this lineup.
Monroe Magnum Loaded Strut Assembly
For those of you with half-ton pickups, look no further than the Magnum Loaded Strut Assemblies. These strut assemblies are specifically designed for late-model pickups to provide a comfortable ride while still being able to carry the typical pickup payload.
Gas-Magnum Shock Absorber
Reflex Ride Control
Max-Air Shock Absorbers and OESpectrum Electronic Shock & Struts
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How To Buy Replacement Shocks And Struts
Make sure you buy quality, brand-name shocks or struts, recommends Trotta. And remember that youve got choices. Some may be a little stiffer for better cornering, while others may offer better ride comfort. Discuss your preferences with your auto professional before deciding.
Its also important to ask about replacing all of the worn parts connected to the struts. Dont be penny wise and dollar foolish, cautions Reina. He recommends replacing other worn items associated with the struts, like bearing mounts, rubber bump stops and shock boots.
Whatever you do, dont neglect your shocks or struts. Just like with that comfortable pair of shoes, you wont fully appreciate the difference they make until you get fitted for new ones and hit the pavement.
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What Do Struts Do On A Car
A strut performs two key roles. First, it acts as a damper that controls a car’s spring and suspension movement. By doing this, a strut can give a vehicle a smoother, more comfortable ride. Second, each strut supports the vehicle’s suspension. In this function, each strut supports a car’s springs and can help keep the tires in an aligned position.
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How To Test Struts
Because the struts are different in terms of their location and function, the test for shock absorbers will not work for them.
The only way to test the struts is by performing a road test and paying attention to any signs of wear such as shakes, rattles, or nosedives.
Make sure you test the car in a safe environment while obeying all traffic laws in your area
Getting Your Shocks & Struts Replaced
The best way to know when to replace your shocks and struts is to have a qualified technician inspect your suspension anytime you notice the above signs, get an alignment or install new tires. At the very least, get your car suspension checked once a year.
Shocks and struts should always be replaced in pairs , and its even better to replace the shocks/struts on all four wheels at one time. This helps maintain reliable handling and a consistent response on both sides of the vehicle.
After you get any suspension work done, we always recommend getting an alignment too. Any changes in your suspension may also change the vehicles wheel alignment. And when it comes to wheel alignment, even minor tweaks can have costly consequences down the road .
Whether you just need your suspension inspected or you know its time for new shocks and struts, bring your vehicle to Virginia Tire & Auto for reliable, trustworthy service at competitive prices! Drop by any of our locations to talk with one of our ASE certified technicians or schedule an appointment for service online!
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How To Fix The Problem
before spending time and money to replace the struts, you should have a mechanic perform a thorough diagnosis. other suspension components such as bushings and mounts can mimic strut problems.
worn or damaged struts should be replaced in pairs front or rear. the struts can usually be exchanged as an entire assembly with the springs , or they can be serviced separately.
we recommend replacing the upper strut bearings and bushings along with the struts, and getting a wheel alignment once the new parts are installed.
this is a job best left to professionals, since the strut assembly contains dangerous, high-tension springs. the mechanic will remove the old strut, possibly along with brake lines or other suspension parts that are in the way. he or she may remove the old strut from the spring and add the new strut to the spring. once the new struts are in place, everything will be reassembled.
About the Author
Mia Bevacqua is an automotive expert with ASE Master, L1, L2 and L3 Advanced Level Specialist certification. With 13-plus years of experience in the field, she applies her skills toward writing, consulting and automotive software engineering.
Signs That You Need To Replace Shocks & Struts
Generally, shocks and struts wear out every 50,000-100,000 miles. If youre a more aggressive driver and/or frequently drive on rough roads, they will wear out faster.
Shocks and struts dont go out all at once they deteriorate slowly over time. Because of this, you may not notice that your suspension is going bad until things go from bad to worse! Watch out for these 4 main signs that you need to replace the shocks and/or struts.
1. Bumpy, rough ride
When you hit a bump in the road, do you feel like you could lose control of the vehicle? Does your vehicle bounce more than once or twice? A rough, bumpy ride is one of the easiest symptoms to notice.
2. Leaking fluid
Leaked fluid on the exterior of the shocks/struts is a sign that something is wrong. If the shock absorbers do not have enough hydraulic fluid, they wont be able to absorb impacts as you drive.
If youre not sure whether the liquid on your suspension is coming from the shocks or is an old fluid leak from somewhere else, wipe it off and then check it again after youve driven at least a few miles.
3. Uneven treadwear
Cuppingscalloped, wavy dips on the tire treadis a tell-tale sign of worn shocks and struts. It is caused by the tires not being held firmly to the road as you drive. Cupping shortens the usable life of your tires and diminishes handling and stopping power.
4. Instability when braking or turning
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What Happens When Shocks Or Struts Go Bad
Put simply, faulty shocks or struts will make it hard to maintain proper control of your vehicle as you drive. As a result, going over a bump or pothole can potentially cause you to lose control, putting you and your passengers at risk, as well as risking an accident with other vehicles on the road. For this reason, its crucial to keep your shocks or struts in proper working order at all times.
Everything You Need To Know About Your Cars Shocks & Struts
The shocks and struts on your car are essential to keeping your car on the road and you and your family safe while driving. Youve probably heard about shocks and struts before, but do you know exactly what they do? Or even more importantly, how you can maintain them so they perform their job correctly? Dont worry, The Auto Man is here to answer all of your shocks and struts questions. Learn more about your car or trucks shocks and struts below, or check out the video of my segment on San Diego Channel 6 News to see the difference between working shocks and worn shocks.
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What Problems Could Occur If I Drive On Bad Shocks And Struts
Your shocks and struts are an intricate part of your vehicle, and interact with your cars suspensions, steering and alignment systems. Bad shocks and struts can lead to excessive tire wear and excessive suspension wear, costing you extra money on auto repairs down the road. They also directly affect how you are able to handle and control your vehicle on the road, a vital element in keeping you and your family driving safely.
What Do My Cars Shocks And Struts Do
Shocks and struts are needed to maintain your vehicles balance and stability while driving. In other words, they are what are responsible for keeping your car flat on the pavement! This helps you keep control of your vehicle so it is not bouncing off the ground due to bad weather, rough terrain or simple potholes.
The spring in your cars suspension works to absorb the impact your car gets from hitting a bump or pothole in the road. Your struts provide support for your suspension springs, and your shocks work to dampen the subsequent spring movement so that your car doesnt continue to bounce.
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What Are Struts On A Car
Different types of cars have different types of suspensions. Most car owners have heard the term strut, but may not be clear as to what exactly the struts on a vehicle are or what they do.
Most straightforwardly defined, the struts are a structural component of most modern independent suspension systems and serve as a connection point between the wheel and the vehicle body. They are mounted at the top of the chassis at the front-end of most front-wheel-drive vehicles. However, struts are not limited to front-wheel-drive configurations. The primary purpose of the struts is to support the weight of the vehicle while also absorbing surface impacts and ensuring a smooth ride.
A strut assembly consists of two primary elements: the coil spring, which supports the height, weight and stability of the vehicle and the shock absorber, which swallows bumps and dampens vibrations caused by irregularities on the roadway.
Shocks and struts are terms often used together or interchangeably, but that can create confusion. There are major differences between the two components. Shocks, by themselves, have one primary function to absorb bumps at each wheel but they are not essential in the operation of a car or truck. Struts, on the other hand, have multiple functions and are essential for vehicle operation. Struts allow control and maneuverability of the vehicle.
How To Maintain Your Struts
What else does a vehicle owner need to know about struts? Not too much. Whether your car has struts or shock absorbers youll want to have them inspected periodically for leaks or other damage. One difference is that when they do wear out, struts are more expensive to replace, but theres nothing a driver can do about that. Regardless of what suspension system your car has, be sure to have it inspected regularly every oil change or alignment, or every 5,000 miles or so is fine.
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The Vehicle Exhibits Signs Of Body Roll
Similar to how a vehicle can dip and squat during braking and acceleration events, a cars stability may also be compromised during cornering. If the shocks are starting to go bad, the body will feel like it is leaning into the turn even on slight turns. Again, this can be a safety issue that requires immediate action since it can impact braking and steering effectiveness.
Over 50,000 miles, the dampening capabilities of a shock or strut will degrade to the point where it can impact ride and handling, but the driver may not notice since the loss of functionality happens gradually. While your customer may have become accustomed to body lean as a normal part of their driving experience, your fresh perspective can reveal just how bad their shocks and struts have become. This is why a test drive is critical to the inspection process.
When To Replace Shocks And Struts On Cars
Its recommended that you replace each strut and shock absorber on your car every 50,000-100-000 miles.
There are some indicators that will let you know if these parts need replacement. If your car’s ride quality has suddenly become unusually bumpy or if you have poor steering response, it could indicate a strut or shock absorber issue. Other signs that indicate that there’s a strut or shock absorber problem include unstable braking and unusual wear patterns on the car’s tires. The Federal Trade Commission advises that worn shock absorbers can cause poor cornering.
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Is It Dangerous To Drive With Bad Struts
Yes, its dangerous to drive with bad shocks or struts. Fortunately, many signs indicate your cars shocks and struts are malfunctioning, such as:
- Your car feels unstable, even if you are driving on a flat surface.
- Your car tips to one side during turns.
- Your cars front end rises and the rear squats when you press down on the accelerator.
- Your cars tires bounce excessively.
- Your cars tires look worn down, and their tread looks wavy and uneven.
- Your car is leaking fluid near the shocks or struts.
If you believe your cars shocks or struts are defective, take your vehicle to a certified auto mechanic who can evaluate your car and replace the shocks or struts as needed.
But if youre involved in a vehicle collision, try not to stress. Fix Auto can repair any damage to your cars exterior. We offer over 150 auto body shops nationwide, and our friendly, knowledgeable, certified auto body professionals are happy to assist you in any way they can. To schedule a service appointment, please contact us online or call us today at 800.INFO.FIX.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto Northridge, a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing Northridge and the greater San Fernando Valley.