What Shocks & Struts
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 bound 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.
How Shocks & Struts Work
According to the experts at Gabriel Ride Control, 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, reduces 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.
How to Tell if Shocks & Struts
Under normal conditions, shocks & struts wear out gradually.
However, many factors can affect how much wear is actually occurring and
at what rate it is occurring. For example, 2 people buy the same vehicle
new off the dealer lot . . . one lives in the city close to the office,
and drives mostly on straight roads. The other lives in the country, 45
miles from the office and must travel 10 of those miles on a winding,
often muddy gravel road. Because shocks operate in extremely hostile
under-vehicle environment, where anything from gravel to ice, and snow
to grit can affect the life of the product, it is a good bet that driver
#2 will need to replace his shocks long before driver #1. The piston rod
can easily be nicked or damaged by flying gravel allowing grit and dirt
to damage the piston seal. When this occurs, fluid begins to leak from
the piston seal and eventually the shock will lose its ability to
Worn shocks and struts not only affect the ride comfort and control of
your vehicle, but can affect its braking effectiveness, too.
Here is a good self test to check
for signs of worn shocks or struts:
Do you experience excessive bounce (3 or
more bounces) when crossing an intersection or dip?
When stopping quickly, does your vehicle
rock back and forth several times?
While applying your brakes firmly at
higher speeds, does your vehicle have a tendency to drift left or right?
When changing lanes quickly does your
vehicle rock or sway from side to side?
On a tight curve like a freeway ramp,
does your vehicle lean and sway giving it an uneasy and disconnected
Many components contribute to the
handling characteristics of your vehicle. Having your vehicle inspected
if you experience any of the above signs is good preventive maintenance
and can help parts wear less and last longer. When inspecting shocks and
struts, your service technician will look for:
A badly leaking shock or strut.
The unit is losing fluid and can't provide the resistance it was
originally designed for.
Shiny Spots at the contact point
of the safety bumper, and marks between the coils of the spring called
"coil clash". They are the result of topping and bottoming
caused by excessive suspension travel.
Tire cupping around the
circumference of the tire can be caused by worn or ineffective shocks
Broken or loose shock or strut mount.
The product is not solidly connected at both ends and cannot function
Broken or damaged piston rod. The
product cannot function properly and should be replaced.
So, now that you've got the facts,
wouldn't you agree that shocks and struts provide more than just a