Is it Time to Replace My Shocks & Struts?

2013-1-7 13:51:24

No matter what your handling objectives, your car's driveability depends on shock absorbers. The shocks perform their duties by keeping the spring rebound in check. Since shock absorbers have such a profound effect on ride control and stability, good shocks go hand in hand with driving safety.

There are a number of ways to determine if it's time for new shocks. The first is fairly subjective; if your car no longer rides as well as it used to; If it seems to bounce and drift more than you remember, or nose-dive when you brake, your shocks are probably worn out. An oil soaked shock indicates seal failure and must be replaced, however a light film of oil is normal. Torn or blown out mounting bushings can result in annoying clunks and rattles and the inability of the shock to perform as it was intended.

Generally speaking, a set of shocks can last around 50,000 to 60,000 miles, though this is by no means an absolute figure. Some shocks may last for only 30,000 or 40,000 miles, while others may still be functioning after 100,000 miles. Factors that affect this include how the car is driven and the conditions it is driven in. A car used predominantly for freeway commuting will have less wear on the shocks than one driven in stop-and-go traffic and on potholed surface streets. Likewise, if a car is driven off road frequently or on dirt roads or even rough roads, the shocks will experience more wear.  If an older car sits for a long time without being used, the shocks can sometimes freeze up and stop functioning. If you are going to start driving a car regularly that has been sitting unused for many years, you might have to install new shocks.

Another reason you may want to replace your shocks is if you want better performance from your car. As originally equipped, most cars have relatively compliant suspensions. By installing a set of high-performance shocks, you will improve the handling and sometimes even the ride quality.