Looking After And Replacing Your Shock Absorbers

If you have discovered your need to replace your shocks, you might wonder if there is a difference between the front and rear shocks. Other concerns might be how often shocks should be replaced, what are the signs to check to see if your shocks should be replaced and whether you should drive with bad shocks.

In most cars, the front shocks are more time-consuming to replace and require more tools. In turn, they are more expensive to replace than the rear shocks.

Car Shock Absorbers

How Often Should The Shocks Be Replaced?

In general, most shocks will last between 50,000 and 100,00 miles. Unlike some parts in your car, shocks are not listed in maintenance schedules for replacement. It’s recommended that you check the suspension from time to time to ensure everything is running properly.

If you have cheaper shocks, they might have to be replaced more often. Also, driving on rough roads or driving down a trail can wear the shocks out faster.

How Can I Tell If The Shocks Need Replacing?

Broken Shock Absorbers

Keep in mind, if you are experiencing a difficult ride, it can damage your tyres. Your tyres must be firmly and evenly placed on the road or the tread will wear out. You might even notice cupping taking place on the treads. If you catch the problem early enough, get your tyres rotated and replace the shocks. If you choose to let the problem persist, you will have to replace your tyres with a newer set along with the shocks.

Uneven Tyre Wear

All you need to know right now, is the rough ride you are experiencing has led to the poor condition of your tyres. Not being able to keep the tyres firmly planted on the road, will cause the treads to wear out at different levels.

A Difficult Driving Experience

If your vehicle has become a little harder to handle, it could be related to bad shocks. There will be an unsteadiness, especially if the wind hits your car. If you are continually correcting how your car drives, for example nudging it to the left because it’s pulling to the right, it’s probably time to look at the suspension and the shocks.

Whether you are driving over rough terrain or minor flaws in the road, you are going to experience rattling, rocking, and shaking, if your shocks are beginning to fail. Shocks are required to control the level of impact that will take place when you hit a bump. This is not just uncomfortable but it can cause you to lose control over your car.

You will also realise you are having issues controlling your car when you hit the brakes. Your car will start to swerve or dip. It could also take longer to stop the car when the brake pedal is pushed and, in turn, it could lead to a dangerous situation. There may be unusual noises coming from any of the corners of your vehicle, grinding or squeaking etc. If you are travelling on slick surfaces, hitting the brakes and not being able to stop can be very dangerous. Also, if you cannot control your car’s movements this could lead to a very serious situation.

Steering Wheel Vibrations

Shaking Steering Wheel

If the suspension is failing, you will feel vibrations through the steering wheel. Vibrations through the steering wheel will be very obvious when you drive over bumps and are constantly swerving which is probably caused by bad shocks.

When you drive over uneven roads you will probably notice more vibrations coming from the steering wheel. This can be quite normal unless you are experiencing the same vibrations when you drive over smooth surfaces. If this happens or the vibrations become worse, it’s time to get your car to a mechanic and have it inspected.

Should You Drive With Bad Shocks

This is not recommended even though you can if you choose to. Your car will still operate but roughly and you could cause further damage e.g. to your tyres. Again, it’s not recommended you drive your car under these conditions.

First off, you will have an unpleasant driving experience. As the shocks get worse, your car is going to jump around, even on smooth surfaces.

On top of that, you could lose control of your car and become injured. You will also face higher repair bills. You will cause your tyres to wear out and you are putting a lot of wear on the suspension components. What could have been a simple shock replacement could quickly become multiple issues that will take a garage some time to repair. Your best option is to have the suspension inspected as soon as you notice something is wrong.

What’s The Difference Between Shocks & Struts?

Shock Absorbers

The biggest difference between shocks and struts, shocks are designed to dampen the up-and-down movement of the suspension and keep your car stable. Struts serve as structural support for the suspension.

There are many people who believe shocks and struts are one and the same but that’s just not the case. While both components are a part of the suspension system, they operate differently. Both components, when operating correctly, will deliver a better ride and better handling of your car, they just operate differently.

Shocks are part of the suspension system but they are considered independent. Shocks are not a part of the car’s structure while the struts are. They do not support the chassis as the struts do. Shock absorbers control the suspension movement and nothing else.

Struts dampen the ride but are also essential to the structure. Struts take the place of the upper ball joint and control arm meaning they are a part of the overall structure. In turn, the shocks are lighter than the struts and do not take up as much space.

The internal components of the shocks and struts are very similar to each other. The struts are stronger, offering the support that is mandatory for the spring while holding the position of the tyres. Struts are required to support the side load of the suspension where the shocks are not.

A Mechanic’s Tips Regarding Replacing Shocks

Replacing Shock Absorbers

It’s recommended if you are going to replace the front shocks, you should get a complete strut. This is a kit with coil springs and struts mounting bearings. You can get a complete strut for some models of cars.

If you are replacing the front shocks, it’s recommended replacing the top mount bearings if you decide only to replace the shocks. These bearings can dry up and become damaged causing your coil spring to break.

Depending on the car model, the sway bar link can be very difficult to remove and can be damaged in the shock replacement. If the sway bar link is installed on your shocks, you will have to remove and replace the shocks. It’s recommended you replace both.

Replacing The Shock Absorbers, Is It Worth It?

It’s definitely worth it to replace your car’s shock absorbers if they are worn. New shock absorbers will improve the car’s driving ability and the general safety of your car. It will also prevent other suspension components from wearing out too soon.

Can You Just Replace One Shock?

You can replace just one shock absorber but it’s not recommended. If you are replacing the front shocks, you could replace only one shock if the other one seems in good condition. That said, the rear shock absorbers are very easy to replace so you should replace both at the same axle. Replacing just one will lead to uneven wear.

Should I Replace All 4 Shocks At The Same Time?

There is no need to replace all four shock absorbers at once if the others are in good condition. Although it’s more important to replace the shock absorbers on the same axle but it’s not necessary. Shock absorbers can go bad because of leakage and it’s possible that only one is bad while the others are in good shape.

What Is The Time Frame For Replacing Shocks?

It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours to replace a pair of shock absorbers, depending on the mechanic’s skills and the model of your car. Replacing the rear shocks is normally much faster to replace than the front shocks.

In Conclusion

When your car’s shock absorbers begin to wear out, it’s important you replace them as soon as you can. It will improve the quality of your ride, will help other suspension components and it will extend the life of your tyres. It will also keep you and your passengers out of harm’s way. Getting new shocks is not cheap, but it’s worth it when you consider how much they will improve your driving experience and overall safety.

Hopefully, this information has helped you understand the performance of shock absorbers. You can be seriously injured or harm someone else on the road if you do not pay attention to the shocks in your car.

If you believe you may have a problem with your shock absorbers you can have them checked by Servicing Master if you are in and around Manchester city centre and North Manchester, Oldham, Bury, Bolton, Rochdale, Stalybridge etc.. You can get a quick repair or service quote by using our simple car service quote form. We also offer a collection and drop off service. A convenient, friendly and affordable service, try Servicing Master once and you’ll never go back. Give us a call now on 0161 302 0201. Or simply book your car service now.

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