How do shock absorbers work?
When you're driving on a bumpy surface,
your car's shock absorbers help to stop the car moving about and vibrating too much.
They are installed on your car's suspension and most cars have a shock absorber
for each wheel.
Although they don't support the weight of your vehicle, they control the suspension over rough surfaces,
keeping the tyres in full contact with the road at all times.
They also absorb the impact of up and down movements for the rear suspension
(not many cars have a rear axle) and front suspension components.
A piston inside the shock absorber moves up and down along with the suspension
and springs to absorb the energy from the road.
Hydraulic fluid or air chambers in the shock absorbers absorb excess energy.
How do I know if my shock absorbers need replacing?
It can be tricky to know when there is a problem with your shock absorbers as they tend to fail gradually,
over quite a long period of time.
However, if you don't replace damaged or worn out shock absorbers,
you could badly damage your suspension.
They can also affect your brakes, adding as much as 20% to your stopping distance.
Here are a few things you can do to check if your shock absorbers need replacing:
- Road test your car on a familiar road and
- look out for any differences in the way it feels to drive -
bouncing more than usual when going over bumps, or swinging up and down like a boat,
can be tell-tale signs of a worn shock absorber.
- try your brakes - worn shock absorbers can make the car dip and swerve when you put the brakes on.
- listen for squeaks in the suspension or tyres squealing around corners.
- Check the pattern of wear on your tyres
Worn shock absorbers can't keep your tyres firmly fixed on the road.
The tyres will start to wheel-hop or skip, and at high speeds this means chunks of
tyre can get torn from the tread. The tyre wear pattern resembles cups or "scalloping",
where the tread looks wavy all around the circumference. If you see this pattern of wear,
you can be pretty certain you have a problem with your shocks since no other
component causes the tyre to wear in such a way.
If you hit a pothole or curb, or have an accident, you may have caused immediate
damage to your shock absorbers which might not be easy to see but can be spotted
with a wheel alignment check. Find a local garage at bookmygarage.com to carry this out for you.
How will the garage fix my shock absorbers?
First of all the garage will check to see which kind of
shock absorbers are fitted on your car.
Most cars nowadays have one of two different types of shock absorbers:
- a standalone shock absorber that attaches to the vehicle suspension and frame
- a strut shock absorber which incorporates the coil spring that is attached to the vehicle's wheel hubs
or suspension arms.
Some cars have both: struts in the front and standalone shocks in the back.
To change a shock absorber that sits in the strut, the mechanic will need to
remove the suspension coil springs and the strut unit as well which makes the job a bit more complicated.
If you take your car to the garage to get your shock absorbers replaced,
it's a good idea to get the suspension top mounts replaced at the same time.
They are made of rubber and subject to a lot of pressure and movement,
which means they need to be changed fairly often,
and the mechanic will need to remove them anyway to change the shock absorber.
While this may sound complicated, it is usually a straightforward job to replace shock absorbers.
Find a trusted, local garage to do the job for you at bookmygarage.com or
call one of our expert mechanics on 03304 004439 to
check if you have a problem with your shock absorbers and help you choose the best garage to fix them.