Signs of Shock Absorber Wear

Written by marilyn lindblad
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Signs of Shock Absorber Wear
Shock absorbers improve a car's ride. (car image by sasha from

Shock absorbers make your ride safer and more comfortable. They help your car tires grip the pavement, and they keep you and your car from bumping around on rough roads. Shock absorbers are part of your car's suspension. The suspension system controls the way the frame of the car interacts with the wheels and tires. It should be checked for problems at least once a year.

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Rough ride

Shock absorbers help provide a smooth, predictable ride in your vehicle. The shock absorbers use hydraulic technology to "soak up" the bumps in the road. Luxury cars may come with electronically controlled coil spring and hydraulic cylinders with gas-pressurised shock absorbers at each wheel. Without shock absorbers, your car would rock around wildly on its springs. If you notice your ride is rougher and bumpier than usual, your shock absorbers may be worn out.

Control issues

Shock absorbers also help you maintain control of your car. Shock absorbers keep the tires on the ground to give you traction. With worn shock absorbers, your car bounces around on the springs of your car's suspension, pulling the tires away from the road as the car springs upward. If you have noticed that your car does not seem to respond immediately to your steering, especially when you are driving on a bumpy road, your shock absorbers may be worn out.

Uneven tire wear

Uneven tire wear can signal that shock absorbers are wearing out. A shock absorber has an internal cylinder of oil that dampens the energy of the movement of the car and stops the car from bouncing around. When the valves that control the oil wear out, road traction is reduced and tire tread wears unevenly. If the tread on your tires is more worn on the outside of the tire, with less wear down the middle, your shock absorbers may be worn out.

Mileage and timing

Even if you have not noticed that your ride seems bumpy or that your car seems to be bouncing around on its tires, you should still have your shock absorbers checked for wear at periodic intervals. In modern cars, computers control vehicle shock absorption and suspension. A rough ride that's hard to control can be caused by a computer that is out of adjustment or by worn shock absorbers. Your suspension system should be evaluated every 12 months or 12,000 miles.

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