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Shock Absorber and Strut Replacements

If you’ve noticed something while driving your car that just feels ‘off’, do you ignore it or get it checked out by a professional?

If the suspension in your vehicle is in good condition, you’ll enjoy predictable handling, long lasting tyres, good steering response as well as shorter braking distances.

What are shock absorbers and where are they in the car?

Shock absorbers, or dampers, are suspension components that are designed to absorb and ‘dampen’ suspension vibrations and movement.

A shock absorber plays an absolutely vital role in how your car handles, accelerates, steers and brakes, and if they’re in poor condition; your vehicle, and potentially your safety, could be at risk.

Shock absorbers are typically located near each wheel of a car, and they work by converting the kinetic energy of the suspension movement into thermal energy, which is then dissipated into the air.

What’s a shock absorber made of and how do they work?

Shock absorbers, when talking about car suspension, are usually a pressurised oil-filled cylinder with some kind of valving inside that adds resistance to the stroke of your suspension. This resistance is what helps keep suspension bouncing and vibrations in check.

While most modern shock absorbers are oil-filled, some designs are gas-filled or electronically controlled. Which type you have depends on what sort of car you have. Some alternative designs include rubber blocks, leather disks or even magnetic shock absorbers.

Technician holding a replacement coil-over shock absorber unit.

When do you need a shock absorber replacement?

It’s essential that your shock absorbers are in good condition, and fortunately most of the signs that yours are faulty or worn out are relatively easy to look out for.

If your vehicle experiences any of the following, book in to your local Tyrepower store for a tyre, wheel and suspension inspection.

Poor Handling

Your vehicle suspension is designed to allow your wheels to move, but in a specific, controlled manner. This allows you to experience comfortable, predictable handling and performance. Shock absorbers that aren’t functioning correctly will result in a bouncy ride, with the vehicle being quite unsettled over bumps until the issue is rectified.

Longer Stopping Distances

In an emergency braking situation, it’s critical that your vehicle handles in an expected manner. If your suspension is working as-designed, safety systems like anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and traction control will all operate more effectively.

Uneven Tyre Wear

Suspension that is struggling to keep control of your wheels will result in uneven tyre wear that is very distinctive, with worn shock absorbers resulting in ‘stepped’ tyre wear. A tyre technician can spot this and diagnose worn out suspension components quite reliably.

Noisy Suspension

Depending on what you drive and how old your vehicle is, a few squeaks and rattles might be normal, but if you notice anything unusual or new, it pays to get it checked out. A new noise means that *something* has changed, and when it comes to suspension or brakes, it’s worth making sure your vehicle is still safe.

Fluid Leaks

Shock absorbers rely on internal oil reservoirs to control spring movement. Once this oil is leaking, the shock absorber is no longer able to work effectively. If you see drops of oil or marks where you park your vehicle that are close to where one of the wheels was parked, leaking shock absorbers may be the cause.

Can shock absorbers be repaired?

Most of the time, shock absorbers can be repaired and rebuilt, however the factory shock absorbers in most cars are cheap enough that replacing them is faster, easier and cheaper.

If you have aftermarket suspension or own a high performance vehicle, it’s worth checking with the manufacturer of the suspension to enquire whether or not a repair or replacement is your best option. Your local Tyrepower store will handle this for you.

It’s worth mentioning that taking shock absorbers apart to inspect and service them is outside the scope of many home mechanics with specialist tools and safety procedures needed to handle the extremely high pressures found in most shock absorbers.

Your Local Suspension Experts

Tyrepower stores across the country are experts in tyres, wheels and suspension diagnosis. If you’re experiencing strange noises, vibrations, uneven tyre wear or you’re just looking for a quick balance and alignment before a road trip, your local store can help!

Suspension servicing is not available at all locations though, so please check with your local store for confirmation.

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