Shocks 101

We’ve all seen clunkers that rattle on the road. More often than not, those noises aren’t due to a lack of love or poor maintenance—but age. These unusual sounds may be caused by the shocks, which tend to make noises and knocking sounds and vibrate when they’re nearing the end of their life.

Shocks are essential to a vehicle’s suspension. They have two main roles: in their compression stage, they absorb shocks caused by potholes or bumps in the road; in their rebound stage, they dampen the rebound when the vehicle returns to a flat surface. They work together with the leaf springs or coil springs, depending on the manufacturer.

Cause and effect

When the shocks are worn, you’ll notice several symptoms. First off, you’ll hear knocking or clunking and, when steering, you’ll feel every little dip in the road. This results in a bumpy ride and the vehicle body leaning when you turn. Driving is risky and may even become dangerous on wet or snow-covered roads.

In addition to causing a loss of vehicle control on a road that has bumps or crevices, worn shocks can have a domino effect. In fact, tires and certain steering parts could also suffer and have premature damage.

Shocks generally have a life span that ranges between 80,000 and 100,000 km. Their deterioration can be so gradual that we tend to get used to it and not notice.

That’s why it’s important to get your shocks checked every now and again or when you notice obvious signs of wear. Some car owners prefer to install shocks that are designed for their needs, like a van or pick-up truck that tows a recreational vehicle or heavy loads.