4 Ways to Recognize Worn Shock Absorbers

Shock absorbers are a commonly overlooked car part, but their importance shouldn’t be understated. Shocks keep your ride smooth and make handling your car easier. But shocks can also fail. While it’s impossible to assign a specific lifespan, one thing is for sure: faulty shocks need to be replaced.

Worn shocks can lead to poor handling, cause damage to other parts of your car, and even put your safety at risk. Learn to recognize the signs of faulty shock absorbers to protect yourself and your car.

1. Rough Ride
No vehicle provides a 100% bump-free ride. However, you shouldn’t feel every dip, bump, or other imperfection in the road. Shock absorbers operate on a system of resistance control. When your car hits a rough spot, the shocks detect and literally absorb the impact. Any force you feel should be minimal.

But with worn shocks, it can feel like a wayward hydraulic system is in control of your car due to the constant rattling and rocking motions you experience. The discomfort you feel is only the beginning of your worries.
Cars are not designed to bounce up and down without sustaining some level of damage. Consequently, drive shafts, control arms, and the transmission are some of the components prone to damage due to faulty shocks.

2. Increased Stopping Time
When a car takes longer to come to a complete stop, it’s easy to assume the problem is low brake fluid or another brake problem. But shock absorbers with just 50% wear can increase a car’s stopping time by nearly 12%. For a vehicle that is traveling upwards of 50mph, this stopping time increase is equivalent to two car lengths.

In heavy traffic, a delay in your ability to stop increases your risk for an accident considerably. No one knows a car better than its owner does. Have a technician examine the problem if you notice any changes in your vehicle’s stopping time.  

3. Uneven Tire Wear
One way shock absorbers improve vehicle maneuverability is that they work to keep the tires planted evenly on the ground. A tire must maintain an even level of contact with the road to ensure it wears at an even rate. With worn shocks, parts of the tire lift away from the road with each bounce.

The elevated areas put extra pressure on the parts of the tire in contact with the ground. The result of the uneven rotations is uneven tire wear. Uneven wear shortens a tire’s lifespan and reduces a car’s stopping power. But the problem can also cause hazardous handling conditions. You will need to replace the tires and address the worn shocks to rectify the issue.

4. Poor Control
A car that veers to one side is often thought to have an alignment problem, but worn shocks are also a likely culprit. The function of a well-performing suspension system keeps a car steady. But the full-throttle impact from worn shocks that causes the vehicle to bounce and the tires to lift creates instability.

As a result, a driver will have a hard time keeping their car on course, especially when traveling at high speeds. When you add elements like wind or rain into the mix, your safety hazards go from bad to worse.  

The symptoms of worn or faulty shock absorbers are easy to miss because they resemble other common vehicle problems. However, you should take your vehicle in for service right away if you recognize any concerning signs. At Seeburg Mufflers, we can diagnose and repair your shock absorber concerns to get you back on the road safely and quickly. Contact us today.