A shock absorber, as its name suggests, absorbs shocks.
This long cylindrical structure is connected to each of the four wheels of a vehicle and is filled with oil. The oil acts as a compressive agent that absorbs shocks, so you don’t have to do this.
When you drive your car down the road, you will encounter bumps, potholes, gravel, rocks and whatnot. The shock absorber is your first defense against the shocks you feel when you hit these obstacles. It is therefore subject to heavy wear and can disintegrate over time.
The shock absorber loses its oil and your smooth ride starts to become bumpy, the tyres cannot hold their position on the road and you lose control and handling. It is therefore extremely important that you have your shock absorber checked if it shows signs of wear.
To do this, however, you need to know the symptoms of a bad shock absorber.
Signs of a Bad Shock Absorber
If the shock absorber fails, you can feel it when you drive the car. Check the following symptoms to learn more about how to tell when a shock absorber has failed.
1. Severe Vibrations
The shock absorbers attached to the wheels of your car act like agents that keep your vehicle on the road. If they fail, you will feel their effect in the form of vibrations on the steering wheel. The seal that holds the contents of the cylinder inside will break and the oil inside will break free. Since there is no compression agent inside to absorb the force felt when driving on bumps, the shocks will be irregular and you will experience an uncomfortable driving experience. A bad shock absorber may not make a big difference, but if all four fail, you should see the mechanic at the first opportunity.
2. Losing Control While Braking
If the cylinder’s seal comes loose and you brake hard, the piston inside may move with the slightest movement and force your car to swerve in one direction. To prevent such movement, you are forced to take precautions and steer in the opposite direction.
The same movement can also happen forward, because when you brake your car, the entire weight is shifted forward and the piston causes your car to take a nosedive.
3. Vehicle Takes Longer to Stop
If the shock absorbers fail, the entire suspension will be out of control and the movement of your car will be severely affected. Not only will it take you longer to stop your car, but stopping may also cause the car to spin out of control.
4. Irregular Tire Wear
The failure of the shock absorber also distorts your wheel alignment, resulting in irregular tire wear. There may be more wear on the inner or outer part of the tire. In addition, swerving for potholes that you now need to avoid puts a lot of strain on the tires.
Take a look at the shock absorber behind the wheels of your car. It is a cylindrical rod and very hard to miss. Shock absorbers are normally not exposed to water splashes, but in case of this test, you should first make sure that your car has not been near liquid. Then check for signs of leakage. If you find spots of lubricant on the shock absorbers, there is a good chance that your shock absorber has been damaged.
6. Compromised Bushings
The shock absorbers have rubber bushings near their joints. These bushings can crack or break if they are exposed to several shocks and potholes. Usually, this happens after the absorbers have become weak. As a precaution, you could replace the bushings and check if any of the above symptoms are present. If you answer yes, the absorbers must be replaced.
There is not much you can do to fix a bad shock absorber, apart from a few temporary adjustments until you really have to go to the mechanic.
Driving carefully, avoiding major dents or potholes can help you avoid further damage. If you are already experiencing the first signs of shock absorber failure, drive carefully to prevent vibrations while driving. However, the sooner you visit the mechanic, the better. The sooner you visit the mechanic, the less damage will be done to your car’s suspension. If you want to search for shock absorbers, you can look them up on amazon.com here: Shock absorbers
Shock Absorber Replacement Cost
You have done everything, from avoiding potholes and speed bumps to keeping away from underdeveloped roads, but there is no running away from a bumpy ride. It’s time to take your car to the nearest mechanic. The mechanic can be your savior in this situation, but first, you need to know if you can get away with a repair or if a replacement is needed.
If you want to have your suspension repaired, you are looking at a very cheap solution. Shock absorbers are not very difficult to repair. After all, you only need to have the seal replaced with a new one if you are lucky. A good service by the mechanic and the replacement of the seal can solve your problems and the shock absorber will return to its original operating condition.
This process will take a few hours as it involves dismantling your main suspension parts and then repairing them. In the meantime, you should consider having your tie rod, struts, and sway bars inspected.
These parts are connected to the shock absorbers, so if they come loose, you might as well spend money to have these parts inspected. The work for this kind of work will cost you about $100 to $150.
However, if your mechanic decides that your old shock absorbers are beyond repair, it is time to look for a replacement. Shock absorbers are generally expensive, and if you add other factors like availability, you might see the price skyrocket. Remember that the cost of repair depends directly on the make and model of your car and its size. In general, a replacement shock absorber will cost you between $200 and $1200, which is a good price, but if you want to replace several shock absorbers, that’s bad news.
Hello I’m Magnus, the owner and the writer of this website. I have been working with cars since I was 16 and I’m specialized with in-depth Automotive diagnostics. Also been driving drifting for the last 6 years. I’m here to give you answers to all your automotive questions and I hope that you enjoy our content.