Does My Car Need New Shocks or Struts?

Shocks, Struts, Suspension, SteeringMost drivers don’t notice when their shocks and/or struts start to fail, because it happens slowly over time. We tend to adjust our driving without realizing it. We compensate for any extra sway, bounce, or roll by steering through it, and braking more aggressively. Unfortunately, this tends to put more strain on the other suspension and steering components in our car. It can also cause more stress on the braking system. Even our tires can see more wear and damage, including; uneven tread-wear, cupping, and more frequent replacements. Your vehicle’s shocks and struts are designed to last about 50,000 miles, but driving conditions, towing heavy loads, or performance upgrades may necessitate more frequent routine maintenance and replacements.

What Do Shocks & Struts Do?

Each of the components in the steering, suspension, and braking systems do specific things, yet they all work together. They are reliant on each other to provide you a safe driving experience. If any one of them is damaged, worn, or otherwise working improperly, the other systems can be negatively affected.

Shocks

The shock’s primary function is to control spring and suspension movements by the use of a piston, piston rod, and valve filled with hydraulic fluid. They are designed to reduce bouncing, swaying, and excessive movements while braking, turning, and accelerating. If shocks are working properly, then your vehicle can quickly respond to, and recover from, steering and braking commands. As with most moving components, the valves eventually wear out and the shocks will need to be replaced.

Struts & Strut Mounts

Struts are structural components of the suspension system. Their function is two-fold by design. They provide structural support for the vehicle’s suspension and support the spring, plus they hold the tire in an aligned position. They also perform a similar function as the shock, absorbing excessive up & down movements through a piston, piston rod, and valve filled with fluid. Struts can also wear out and may need to be replaced.

Strut mounts are like brackets with a flexible rubber center that attaches the strut to your car. It also helps reduce tire noise and road vibrations by acting as a cushion. Some strut mounts may contain a bearing or bearing plate that operates as a steering pivot. These bearings are an important component that can affect the response and steadiness of steering movement. It is a good idea to replace strut mounts whenever you replace or upgrade the shocks and struts.

Suspension

The suspension system is supposed to keep your wheels squarely on the ground. When we experience issues with any part of the suspension (tires, shocks, struts, springs), the ride quality of our vehicle suffers. The overall handling or ‘out-of-control’ feeling when braking hard, or turning sharp corners, are indications that a diagnostic service may be needed.

Steering

The steering system is designed so we can direct our vehicle into the direction we wish to go. When our shocks and struts become worn or damaged, it can make steering less reliable. Issues like ‘car roll’ when turning, ‘nose dive’ when braking, and ‘swaying’ when driving straight are all indicative of bad shocks and/or struts. These issues contribute to poor steering and cause unsafe driving conditions.

When Do They Need To Be Replaced?

Mileage Milestone

Over time, your vehicle performance may decrease as your shocks and struts wear out. Maintaining your routine maintenance schedule, and replacing your shocks & struts after 50,000 miles may help keep your vehicle driving like new.

Ride Quality

If you notice that your ride quality has become rougher, or you hear knocks when driving over bumps, or when cornering, it is time to schedule a service to find out if it is time to replace your shocks and/or struts.

Physical Wear or Damage

A physical examination of the suspension components may reveal a need for repairs or replacements. Watch out for: 

  • Leaking hydraulic fluid from the shocks or struts
  • Broken springs
  • Corrosion, rust, or gouges on shocks or struts
  • Uneven, excessive, or cupped tire wear
  • Knocking or rattling noises
  • Excessive rocking front-to-back, or rolling side-to-side while driving

Shocks & Struts: Schedule a Service

Southside Auto Repair is family owned and operated since 1968. We pride ourselves on getting the job done right, using quality parts. Our top priority is to take care of our customers and make sure the vehicles we service make the road a safer place. Let one of our qualified service technicians inspect and road test your vehicle’s shocks, struts & suspension once a year, every 12,000 miles, or along with your regular scheduled maintenance. 

Favored Brands

  • Monroe – made from high-carbon steel and premium components
  • KYB – high-performing “Monotube” shocks
  • Gabriel – advanced high-performance shocks and struts

Southside Auto Repair

Give us a call at (859) 359-8412, or visit us on the web, to schedule a service for all of your auto repair and preventative maintenance needs.