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How To Diagnose Problems With Shocks & Struts

Suspension Ball Joint
If your car is running well on the road you should be grateful for good shock absorbers and struts. These are the parts of the car which absorb the shock of the road, allowing you a smooth ride. To prevent some real serious shaking, bouncing and rolling, you need to be aware of when the shocks and struts are going bad. There are some warning signs and you need to pay attention.

  • Nosedives. The cars stay level thanks to the shocks and struts. If you are putting on the brakes and the front end suddenly dips forward, there is a problem with the shocks and struts. There’s also a phenomenon known as squats. It happens when the rear end of your car goes down as you accelerate.
  • Excessive Bouncing. The car will bounce a little on rough roads, and the shocks and struts will absorb most of the jolt. However, if you find yourself driving over a bump and it about causes you to clear your seat, you have some difficulties with the shocks and the struts. This is a situation that really needs to taken care of as soon as possible.
  • Tire Bouncing. This is also a serious situation because it impacts your tires. Bad shocks and struts will result in the tires doing some bouncing as you drive. The wheels are responding to road, and the pavement is going to start having an effect on the tread in the rubber. It is quite possible that your tires will wear out much faster because the shocks and struts are not keeping things level.
  • Leaking Fluid. Piston and hydraulic fluid are within the shock and struts. Leaking can happen but fortunately this is not a major problem. Nevertheless, if you see what looks to be leaks near the tires, it is worthwhile to bring the car into the auto service center for inspection.
  • Difficulty Handling the Car. Whenever you are driving in bad weather the car will respond to wind gusts and wet pavement. Yet, if under ordinary circumstances you are having trouble with the car shifting from side to side, there is something wrong with shocks and struts. This is another situation that requires immediate attention. The car is supposed to be steady at all times. If you are experiencing a swaying motion, you may discover that other parts of the car such as the brakes are being adversely affected.

When to repair shock & struts?

There is no definite mile marker for shock and struts repair. Quite a bit depends on the road conditions you drive on. Driving on gravel and across rough terrain is going to wear out the shock and struts much faster than urban driving. A rule of thumb is to do preventive maintenance at least every 50,000 miles. Definitely have attention paid to this part of the car if there is excessive bouncing.

Have right parts & tools? Yes! Go for D-I-Y

A relevant question is whether the car owner should try to replace bad shocks and struts. This is a job that the do-it-yourself mechanic can do if he or she happens to have the time and the tools. It is also important to have parts that go well with the model of car being driven. The ordinary car owner should think of having an auto service center do the work. It isn’t just a case of having a trained mechanic on the job, but also having the right parts and the necessary tools to do a good job. There of course is going to be some cost, but applying a remedy to the situation is essential. Rock ‘n roll ought to be on the radio and not by the wheels.

Car In Service Center

Perform bounce test

There is a bounce test for checking on condition shocks and struts. All you have to do is push down on the front or the rear of the car as hard as you can, and then take your hands off. No bounce means that is no problem and the parts are fine. A bounce suggests a problem is starting or is already there.

Pay attention to the shocks & struts

Keeping the car in good shape for a long period of time means being careful about even small parts. Shocks and struts can be taken for granted but when they start going bad, they need attention as soon as you can give it. The problem is not going to go away and it gets worse as the weather gets rougher. If you notice any of the above symptoms, or if your car fails the bounce test, have the shocks and struts looked at as soon as you can.