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Common Shock Absorber Failures: Problems, Solutions And More!

When the shock absorbers go bad, you will surely notice it. But just in case you don’t know what to look for, it’s good to know some of the most common signs of bad or failing shocks. Keep reading and discover in this post everything about common shock absorber failures .

The paved roads we use are not always perfect. Daily abuse, exposure to the sun and the weather cause grooves, cracks and potholes. Car manufacturers address the challenge of these road conditions by equipping vehicles with a suspension system, and shock absorbers are a key part of that suspension system.

What is a damper?

Springs alone cannot cope with bumps because they compress and expand out of control due to the laws of physics. They need to be accompanied by a device that serves as a braking or deceleration force to control the movement of the springs.

The inventors designed the dampers to solve this problem.

Shock absorbers prevent the spring from bouncing excessively through the damping process, which transforms the kinetic energy of the spring into thermal energy . To dissipate this heat, shock absorbers are often filled with hydraulic fluid.

Without shocks, your car will continue to bounce until the impact energy of hitting a pothole is dissipated. Excessive movement of the springs will cause you to lose control of the vehicle. Damage to the sidewall and tread of your tire can occur when you hit a deep pothole and your faulty shock absorbers cause the tire to scrape your car’s fender liner.

In short, the shock absorbers maintain the handling of your car despite the irregularities of the road surface.

Symptoms and common failures of shock absorbers in bad condition

Your shocks are put to abuse, especially in very bad terrain. Although developments have made them better than options of decades ago, shocks can still face wear and tear. Here are some common signs and failures of bad shocks:

1- Driving with potholes

Worn shocks can cause your car’s springs to bounce up and down more than is considered normal. The result is a harder than normal ride over potholes. In addition to having an extremely uncomfortable car.

2- Unusual noises

Shocks that are loose or have worn mounting bushings can create a knocking noise when going over potholes. This is a very common shock absorber failure.

3- Liquid leaks

One of the reasons the fluid inside your shocks runs out is due to a leak. A hydraulic fluid leak can occur on any shock absorber and should never be ignored. Fluid can easily be seen running down the sides of the shock housing.

4- Irregular wear of the tires

You may be wondering what bad shocks have to do with your tires. Your car has shock absorbers to control that your wheels do not bounce due to the reaction of the springs to bumps. Bad shocks make the tire bounce harder off the ground.

As a result, the tire often develops high and low spots in the tread, known as cupping.

5- Reduction of maneuverability and braking capacity

Bad shocks can cause your car to lean more to one side or the other when turning. Also, the front of the vehicle can be tilted down at the front or rear. Any of these situations can negatively affect the handling and braking characteristics of your car.

shock absorber types

The different designs of suspension systems, and the various vehicle applications, led to the invention of two different types of shock absorbers. There are two main types of shocks: monotube and twin tube. Both have different variants to choose from.

1- Mono-tube shock absorbers

A monotube shock has all of its components confined within a single tube. It consists of a piston valve, a housing that acts as a cylinder, and hydraulic oil .

Monotube shocks have a floating piston that compresses the oil and lets it pass through the piston valves. This setup allows the shock to compress more slowly on small bumps and more quickly on big ones.

2- Double Tube Shock Absorbers

The twin tube shock is the most common type of shock and is relatively inexpensive compared to the monotube. It features two cylinders, one acting as a shell and the other as an inner tube.

The inner tube houses the piston valve and oil reservoir, while the outer shell contains the oil that pushes the piston valve and low-pressure gas. The small holes in the piston, as well as the presence of a base valve, restrict the flow of oil going into the outer tube to better control the wheels.

The twin tubes tend to overheat due to the rapid movement of the piston in very rough terrain. The heat causes the oil to foam, which decreases its effectiveness in damping the springs.

Can I drive with a bad shock absorber?

Driving when there is trouble with your car is never the smartest idea. Technically, you can still ride with worn or faulty shocks, but you certainly don’t want to risk the consequences.

Consider consulting your trusted mechanic. The best thing you can do to avoid future problems is to change the shock absorbers in bad condition.

Shocks cost approximately $200-$800 to replace, while performance shocks typically cost upwards of $1,500. Even so, these prices are relatively less expensive than having to deal with multiple issues that could arise after not addressing the issue.

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