What you need to know about a vehicle’s shocks

There are many warning signs that your car’s shocks are on their way to no longer serving their purpose. Things like your car bottoms out over train tracks (or other road dips) and keeps bouncing well after the fact. Another sign is excessive body lean while turning, or that the car’s front dives down hard when braking. And it may not be so dramatic. As shocks wear out gradually, you might get used to these symptoms but you really know something is wearing out. Here is what you should know.


They do not really absorb shocks

First, what we refer to as “shock absorbers” are really “dampeners”, they do not really absorb “shocks.”  The devices in your vehicle’s suspension that absorb shocks and bumps are the vehicle’s springs.  Shock absorbers are hydraulic or mechanical drives that prevent the springs from jiggling around after a big bump. Shock absorbers serve as a type of “dashpot,” a device that prevents a lot of motion from happening through applying a great deal of friction.  So, for setting the record straight “shock absorbers” don’t have anything to do with absorbing shocks!  That being said, shock absorbers still may wear out and fail to dampen a car’s springs while you are driving, thereby creating the symptoms we have just talked about.

How do you know if they’re bad?

If you suspect that your car’s shocks may need replacing, here is one way to test them. Put your hand firmly on each of the vehicle’s corners, give it a big push, then take your hand off the vehicle and watch. If your car keeps bouncing a bit after you let it go, your shocks probably should get replaced. What it should be doing is “dampening out” fast. Note that this test might require quite a bit of strength and with many vehicles high off the ground, such as SUVs and pickups it is not easy to get the leverage you require to carry out the test. Instead, you would need to have a qualified mechanic check your shock absorbers when your vehicle is on the lift, such as when you have a tire rotation done. The mechanic will see if there are big leaks (shock absorbers are filled with fluid), bushing or worn mounts.

How long should they should last?

Although advice says to replace shocks at specific intervals, like every 50,000 miles, when you need to replace the shocks in your vehicle will vary a great deal. If you frequently drive over rough, bumpy roads that put more stress on shock absorbers, then you should probably have to replace them more frequently than if you drive mostly highway miles. Carrying heavy loads also will wear out shocks faster than driving to work does.

Final Remarks

Your vehicle’s shock absorbers perform an essential duty in the car and for safety you should get them changed when needed.  If you suspect the shocks are worn out, drive your car to a mechanic and have them checked out. You don’t want to put anybody at risk just to save some dollars.

Article Source: Reedman-Toll Chevrolet

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