Your shock absorbers (or struts on most vehicles today) have a primary function: To help you maintain control of your vehicle. And even though you think of them as the reason your vehicle rides so nicely over bumps, it’s actually working hard to keep the suspension and steering controllable by the driver. If worn or damaged, control will be compromised, and the ride will be uncomfortable.
Some telltale signs of worn or failing shocks and struts
UNSTEADY STEERING OR WANDERING
If your vehicle feels like it is sliding around or feels like you have a heavy crosswind when you don’t…it’s likely that your shocks or struts are doing very little to control the car. It’s most noticeable if you find yourself constantly correcting your direction, or over-correcting in what should be a straight line of travel. These are dangerous symptoms and the shocks should be replaced as soon as possible.
UNEVEN TIRE WEAR
On failing shocks or struts, your tires will become “patchy” and uneven. This is because they are not making full flat contact with the road. This has the potential to increase the risk of hydroplaning, and can also lead to thin or weak spots that can result in an unforeseen loss of pressure.
LOSS OF CONTROL WHEN BRAKING
If the front end of your vehicle dips forcefully under braking, or swerves to one side the struts are the likely culprit. This can be very dangerous in wet weather; it’s imperative to bring this behavior to a halt!
SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL
Over even the smallest bumps, or perhaps a train track crossing, your vehicle shakes and bounces like you’re in an earthquake! The shocks aren’t doing their job, as they are moving up and down rapidly with no damping, feeling every impact and sending that impact to other parts of the steering and suspension. Over a period of time, this can do severe damage to other steering and suspension components, and also result in the creation of many rattles and loose parts all over your car.
LONG DISTANCE STOPPING
You need your brakes to do what you expect when you press down on the pedal. With worn shocks or struts, your stopping distance can increase by up to 20%, making your vehicle extremely unsafe to operate! Your vehicle needs an inspection NOW.
Shocks and struts will wear out over time, so none of these symptoms will appear overnight. Just as soon as you experience even one of these signs of wear, get your vehicle into us at your earliest convenience. To delay could result in damage to other components, broken mounts or bushings, or even loss of control or an accident resulting in serious injury or worse. Get the vehicle inspected and repaired so it’s once again safe and comfortable.