Automotive shock absorbers and struts do more than just provide a comfortable ride. Their most important function is to influence the control and handling characteristics of your vehicle. Without them, a vehicle would continually bounce and bounce down the road, making driving extremely difficult. Shocks and struts are designed to help keep your tires on the road. They control the action of the spring to resist bottoming out like when you hit a pothole and keep the movement of the springs under control when they rebound. Shocks provide resistance by forcing hydraulic fluid (oil) through valves in the piston as it moves up and down. Because the oil cannot be compressed, only a certain amount of fluid can be forced through these valves, which creates resistance to the vehicle movement. Premium shocks and struts are superior to regular hydraulic shocks because air in the shock is replaced by pressurized nitrogen gas. This advancement in technology prevents bubbles from forming in the hydraulic fluid. These bubbles, called foaming reduce the ability of shocks to provide resistance and prevent bounce. Gas shocks also quicken the response of a shock’s movement thereby increasing comfort and control under all conditions.
Symptoms to Look For:
- Visual Signs: If you’re wondering when to replace your shocks and struts, examine your vehicle for signs of problems. If there are noticeable fluid leaks; if the shocks, struts or mounts look dented or damaged; or if your tires show unusual wear patterns, like cupping, it may be time to replace them.
- Mileage: Testing has shown that at around 50,000 miles, original equipment shocks and struts may be worn to the point of needing replacing (depending on vehicle and driving conditions).
- Vehicle Handling: It can be hard to tell when to replace your struts, but if you experience a generally bumpy or rough ride; have poor steering , stiffness or noise when steering; have inconsistency when braking; or swerving while turning or changing lanes, it’s possibly time for new struts and shocks.