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How do I tell if the shock absorbers are faulty?
This is indicated by changes in the car behaviour while driving. You’ll hear knocking and characteristic rattling sounds in the suspension, and the car body may sway from side to side, which is especially noticeable when driving on poor quality roads. The car handling is impaired, the braking distance increases, and the vehicle skids on corners. If you suspect a failure, the shock absorbers should be inspected. Often they get out of order due to loss of tightness, which is accompanied by streaks of oil on their surface. If you cannot see any leaks, take your car to a garage, as thorough diagnosing is only possible using special equipment.
It is dangerous to use a car with leaky shock absorbers, as oil and gas inside perform the dampening function. If the housing integrity is impaired, the component loses its operability. Please note that a small amount of oil condensation on the housing of the component does not mean it's defective: when the unit is working, oil settles on the rod, which is necessary for its seal lubrication. As a result, oil fog appears under the shock absorber dust boot, evenly covering the surface of the parts. Then condensation will accumulate on the housing as well.
Can a car with broken shock absorbers be used?
It is highly inadvisable to operate a car when these components are defective because this directly affects road safety. For example, when driving over bumps, a wheel with a bad shock absorber constantly loses contact with the road. Due to the shift in the centre of gravity, the car loses stability when cornering. The driving comfort is also reduced. The load on the components of the running gear increases by several times, which leads to their premature wear. Braking path increases, especially that of cars equipped with the anti-lock braking system. This system, as well as the stability control system, can operate with malfunctions. The hydroplaning effect occurs at speeds lower than usual.
Can I replace a shock absorber myself?
Using the tutorials from AUTODOC CLUB, you can handle the replacement of shock absorbers yourself. For this job, you will need wheel chocks, a jack, as well as a set of spanners, a metal brush to clean the assemblies of dirt, and penetrating oil to help loosen stuck fasteners. Look for detailed instructions for your exact car model in our video guides.
The shock absorbers are replaced as soon as they start malfunctioning. Some manufacturers recommend replacing the components after 80,000 kilometres, however, these parts are able to last even longer if used carefully and on quality roads.
What causes shock absorbers to fail?
The sealing elements of the product deteriorate, wear out and and crack over time, thus leading to loss of the component tightness. The rod corrodes under the influence of moisture and dirt. A broken dust boot contributes to the product wear, as the contact parts undergo abrasive wear when exposed to dirt. If the vehicle operates on poor-quality roads, the valve mechanisms inside the unit may deform under excessive loads. The components often fail due to mechanical damage. For example, the housing can easily deform when hit by a rock or other solid object, which is especially dangerous for monotube shock absorbers as this can cause the piston rod to jam.
Can shock absorbers be repaired?
No, the components can’t be repaired. They should be replaced if they malfunction. It usually takes from 1 to 5 hours to replace the components on one axle. After that, the wheels should be aligned.
Can I replace just one shock absorber?
No, products should be replaced in pairs on the axle. Characteristics of new and used parts differ, even if the latter operate properly. Therefore, replacement of only one component will result in an unbalanced suspension, which can lead to impaired handling and reduced driving safety. However, you don't have to replace shock absorbers both on the front and rear axles simultaneously unless the vehicle's suspension is being tuned.
Will new shock absorbers make a ride smoother?
Yes, as the car body will sway from side to side less when driving over bumps. The vehicle's stability will improve as well. Please note: the smooth ride of the car is affected both by the condition of the shock absorbers and by the degree of their stiffness. So if you install stiffer sports components instead of the standard ones, this may have a negative impact on driving comfort. The smooth ride mostly depends on the condition and stiffness of the coil springs. Thus, soft springs and shock absorbers should be installed to ensure maximum comfort and a smooth ride.