Shock absorbers as their name implies: absorb the shock that causes a car to sway, bounce, and distract its driver and passengers.
How They Work
Shock absorbers work somewhat like a door check on a storm door. When a tire hits a bump, the coil spring connected to it starts to oscillate and continues oscillating for a while. The tire oscillates, or bounces up and down, along with the spring until the motion ceases. The shock absorber lets the spring compress freely but allows it to return slowly. This smooths out the ride.
Why Shock Absorbers are Necessary
Shock absorbers are needed not just because they create a comfortable ride, but because they also keep tires from wearing out too quickly. They also prevent drivers from losing control of the car if they whip around sharp curves.
A shock absorber is a cylinder-shaped object with an upper and lower mount. The upper mount is attached to the frame of the car, and the lower mount is attached to the axle. Inside, there’s a piston rod that goes up and down in a tube filled with oil. There are also seals, valves, valve springs, compression heads, and a reservoir. Shocks are velocity sensitive and made to adjust to the conditions of the road and the speed of the car’s suspension.
How Can a Driver Tell When the Shock Absorbers Need to Be Replaced?
Besides struggling for control when racing over a dip in the highway or around a bend, you can simply put your weight on a fender and then jump up. If the car bobs up and down instead of returning slowly to its normal position, it probably needs new shock absorbers. This testing should be done on all four wheels.
If you see oil leaking around the shock absorber, it should be replaced. Professionals suggest that shock absorbers be replaced in pairs.
If you are in a safe place like an empty parking lot, you can drive the car then stop short. Again, if the car bobs up and down before calming down, it probably needs new shock absorbers. You can install new shock absorbers yourself or you can buy new ones from EZ Wheeler and have a professional install the shocks.
Check your shock absorbers when you take your car for routine maintenance, and think about changing them after roughly 50,000 miles for optimal performance.