Anytime we climb behind the wheel, we typically don’t think about how the car works and why…until it doesn’t. This can be especially true with shocks and struts. We don’t pay attention to how smooth a car drives until it starts to bounce us all around. But once that happens, it can be impossible to ignore. So, what are shocks and struts anyway? And how do you know when to get them changed? In this article, we’re breaking down everything you need to know.
What Are Shocks and Struts?
You may not think about a car’s shocks or struts until something goes wrong. Suddenly, you start noticing that the roads feel a lot bumpier than they used to. A road’s surface can be very uneven. Shocks and struts are the crucial components that keep your vehicle stable while driving.
So, how often should you get shocks replaced? The bumpier the roads, the rougher it is on the shocks, causing them to wear down over time. Typically, shocks need to be replaced around 75,000 to 90,000 miles. But they can wear down quicker with excessive driving over bumpy roads or potholes, reducing their lifetime to a much shorter 40,000-50,000 miles.
Shocks vs. Struts
What’s the difference? While they both serve the same purpose in keeping a vehicle stable, shocks and struts are two separate components. Shocks are the piece that absorbs the bounce of a vehicle driving over bumpy roads. This makes the vehicle a lot easier to control, especially at higher speeds.
Struts, on the other hand, help support the car’s steering and suspension. Shocks and struts work in unison. Struts keep the wheels touching the pavement, while the shocks absorb any bumps in the road.
It can be very dangerous to drive with bad shocks and struts, so if you start to feel any of the following signs, it’s best to take your vehicle in for local auto repair.
5 Warning Signs You Need New Shocks and Struts
One of the most recognizable signs is if your vehicle starts bouncing up and down while driving. But what are the other warning signs? Here’s what to keep a watch for the next time you drive.
1. Instability at High Speeds
Does your car feel hard to control on the highway? When the shocks and struts go out, the tires can’t grip the roads as well. This causes the vehicle to shake, rattle, and bounce around at higher speeds. Even the slightest movements can be noticeable, making it hard to keep the vehicle under control. This can be very dangerous for drivers, especially as these parts get worse.
2. You “Notice” the Road More
When the shocks and struts are at peak performance, roads feel smooth to drive across, and there’s very little noticeable movement. But when the shocks start to go bad, you’ll feel the road more than before, noticing every little bump and imperfection in the road. If ignored, these drastic bumps can lead to additional damage to the car’s suspension, control arms, and ball joints.
3. Vehicle Leans to the Side
Does your vehicle lean when taking hard turns? This severe “body lean” happens when the force of the turn can’t be absorbed by the suspense due to worn-out shocks and struts. If you notice the car leaning more than it used to, there’s a good chance that the struts and shocks are wearing out. You can test this issue further by stepping out of your car and pushing down hard on the front hood. Normally, your car will bounce once and stabilize. But if your car bounces multiple times or moves side to side, that wobble is a sign that the shocks and struts need to be replaced.
4. Oily Shocks
Check each shock to see if they’re covered in any leaking fluids. These parts tend to get pretty dirty anyway, so it can be hard to tell, depending on the age of your shocks. If you can’t tell whether it’s normal dirt or a leak, you can take your car in for local auto repair to have an expert mechanic take a look.
5. Strange Tire Wear
Because the tires can’t grip the road as firmly, the bouncing around causes the tire treads to have irregular wear patterns. At its most extreme, the inside of a tire could be bald, while the outside looks fine. Accelerated tire wear is a serious sign that the shocks and struts have worn out.
Have you noticed any of these warning signs? Then it’s time to get your shocks and struts looked at by an expert mechanic. Without the much-needed local auto repair, these signs will only get worse with time and can cause car accidents due to loss of car control.
Need to get your shocks checked? We’re here to help! Schedule an appointment with Naylor’s Auto Repair so our expert mechanics can get your car back out on the road safely and quickly.