Replacing Shocks: When Is it Time?

2020/06/16

Replacing the shocks on your car can dramatically improve your vehicle’s performance. These crucial components play a pivotal role in your suspension system, as they not only help smooth out rough roads by absorbing bumps from potholes and broken pavement, but also affect braking, handling, and tire wear.

So, how do you know when it’s time to replace your shock absorbers? Here are a few telltale signs to look for that indicate you should head into the shop for a fresh set.

Bumps, swaying, and looseness

The prime indicator that your car needs new shocks is if its ride has gotten progressively worse over a certain period. A vehicle that once drove smoothly but now seems to bounce around, to the point where you can feel every single bump in the road, is a sign that something’s wrong with its suspension system. This is also true of a car that sways from side to side on corners or has gradually developed a loose feeling through the steering wheel.

Shock absorbers are one of the first things to check when your car’s comfort level plummets. If you want extra confirmation before heading to the shop, simply look at each one of your shocks (located behind each wheel on most cars, in the wheel well) to check for signs of leaking, looseness, or any broken components. If everything checks out, but your car still rides terribly, bring it to an expert who can thoroughly test out the parts.

Brake diving

Shock absorbers have an important role in braking. When you hit the brakes suddenly, a lot of weight transfers from the rear of your car to the front. A quality set of shocks will keep the nose of your automobile straight and level under hard braking. Worn-out shocks, on the other hand, will allow the hood to plunge toward the ground because they can’t support the extra weight. Having your headlights suddenly aiming at the pavement is especially problematic at night.

Sitting low

One last warning sign that your car needs new shocks is if it’s sitting unusually low, especially when the trunk is full of luggage or you have a full load of passengers. If the back bumper dips toward the ground, it’s an indication that the shock absorbers just can’t handle the extra weight and need to be swapped out for new ones.

You can also test the strength of your shocks when your car is empty by pushing down on each corner of the vehicle. If the car resists, you have nothing to worry about. If you can bounce the car up and down, it’s time to pick up a new set of shock absorbers.

By Benjamin Hunting

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