Shocks and Struts are something that most people don’t think much about when they consider vehicle maintenance. You may know that struts and shocks are a key part of your car’s suspension system, but did you know what they do and the consequences if they are not well kept? Maybe the extent of your knowledge is “the car will still drive even if these parts are worn out, so they don't matter.” However, worn and malfunctioning shocks and struts can actually be extremely dangerous and should not be neglected.
To understand why these Components need attention, we must first understand what they do and how they work.
A shock can be described as something that keeps the spring from bouncing too much – with working shocks, the springs in a car’s suspension will not compress as much, and will not rebound as quickly or violently as they would alone. They also will not keep bouncing for a long time as they would with worn out or no shocks. A shock can also be called a damper.
A strut is also responsible for dampening the springs’ movement, but they are also a structurally integral part of the car’s suspension. Therefore, they are more important than shocks and absolutely cannot be neglected. It would be possible, if uncomfortable, to drive a car with worn out shocks; it would just keep bouncing after every bump, but with worn out struts, the entire suspension could easily fall apart since struts keep the parts together.
So how can you tell when your shocks and struts need to be replaced? Well, the best way would to be get them inspected regualarly for signs of wear or failure. At NAPA Auto Care West Covina shocks and struts are a part of our regular maintenance inspection whenever you get and oil change or any other service. However, if you neglect them for long enough, there will eventually be some noticeable symptoms:
- Bumpy ride: an unusually bumpy or bouncy ride is almost certainly a sign of worn shocks or struts.
- Bottoming out: if your car is riding unusually low on one end, it can be a sign that the shocks or struts on that end are worn out.
- Forward plunge: if the front of your vehicle plunges forward harder than normal under normal braking, the front shocks or struts may be worn out.
- Rock and roll: if the vehicle rocks or rolls from side to side around corners, your shocks or struts may be worn out.
- Unpredictable handling: if your vehicle’s handling seems to be harder to control than normal, your shocks or struts may be worn out.
Another sign of serious shock/strut wear is oil or air leaking from them; the oil may be visible if enough leaks to drip down to the ground underneath the car. If your shocks or struts are filled with air, you can spray them with soapy water and wait to see if air bubbles form; this is a sign of an air leak. Leaking shocks or struts should be replaced as soon as possible.
One of the easiest and most common methods to test the condition of your shocks and struts is the “bounce test”. This is done by pushing down as hard as possible once on the front or back of a vehicle. If the car rebounds and stays at normal height without bouncing when released, then the shocks and struts should still be in good working condition. If the vehicle does bounce, then most likely the shocks or struts need replacement. Finally, a good general rule is to replace your shocks and struts every 50,000 miles as preventative maintenance.
At NAPA Auto Care West Covina in West Covina, we can inspect and replace your shocks and struts and keep your car safe to drive. If your ride is uncomfortable, your shocks or struts are leaking, or your car has began handling erratically, call our team of certified mechanics today!