Shock Absorbers and How They Fail

Symptoms of a Failing Shock Absorber

What is the Shock Absorber for?

The shock absorber is a vital component for the safety of the vehicle and the people inside it. As it says in the name, the main purpose of the shock absorber is to absorb and dampen shock impulses. By controlling the rebound of its suspensions springs, the shock absorber will also work to keep your vehicle’s tyres in contact with the ground. 

The mechanism for the shock absorber to work is a fairly simple one. As pressure is applied to the piston rod it moves against hydraulic fluid inside of the pressure tube. This movement forces the fluid through tiny orifices to create resistance, slowing down the movement of the suspension and springs. 

What Causes a Shock Absorber to Fail?

One of the main causes of a shock absorber failing is simply wear. The shock absorber is a component which sees a lot of action. It is constantly under stress relieving any impact that could be transferred to the vehicle.

A pair of aged shock absorbers

Friction, age, high temperatures, weight load stress and exposure to salt and oil can cause the rubber bushings, used to reduce noise and vibration, to become cracked and worn. This adds additional stress to the other components and can lead to poor handling and excessive bouncing. 

Additionaly, the fluid inside the shock absorber will lose effectiveness over time. As the piston moves up and down the fluid will heat up and this is what dampens the motion. This heat cycling is what causees the fluid to lose viscosity and severely reduces the shocks ability to manage the impact from the road. This hydraulic fluid can also leak out if the seal is damaged, usually caused by imperfections from manufacturing, damaged caused to the shock before fitting or from the seal wearing down over time. 

Overall, the shock absorber is a part that will always need replacing and it is the stress that it goes through while driving that will determine the longevity. It is recommended to have your shocks checked every 12,500 miles and to have them replaced every 50,000, however this can be reduced depending on the conditions of the road, the ability of the driver and the environment they are exposed to.

Why Do They Need to be Replaced?

The shock absorbers are an extremely integral part of any vehicle. Not only are they essential for the safety of the passengers but they have a big impact on the handling. The vehicle may start to roll or sway as it takes corners, as the shocks can no longer control the rate of weight transfer. The vehicle can start to bounce excessively from any impact on the road, as the shocks can no longer absorb the impact, and continue to bounce instead of settling. This can also lead to uneven tyre wear, and in extreme cases cause chunks of rubber to be taken out of the tyre.

Set of tyres demonstrating uneven tyre wear

The most critical aspect damaged shocks can affect is the braking of the vehicle. Damaged shocks will increase the likelihood of the vehicle wobbling when braking, making it harder for the driver to stop in a straight line. However, the most crucial part is the braking distance. The driver may notice that the vehicle will nose dive when braking. When this happens the tyres will lose contact with the road surface making it harder to brake. Due to this any vehicle driving with damaged shocks may have an increased braking distance, up to 2 metres at 30mph, and this can lead to a dangerous accident if the driver is unable to compensate.

When Should the Shock Absorber be Replaced?

It is recommended by most shock manufacturers to have your shocks inspected every 12,500 miles and replaced every 50,000 miles. This can vary depending on the factors we have just discussed and any driver should have their shocks checked if they notice any of the symptoms laid out above. It can be beneficial to have the shocks, tyres, brakes and struts inspected at the same time as these all cooperate to ensure efficient steering, stopping and stability.

Why Choose GT Automotive Shock Absorbers?

At GT Automotive we stock a wide range of shock absorbers in our Oxfordshire based warehouse, covering most relevant applications. With our commitment to innovative design and manufacturing techniques, we have constantly improved and enhanced our shock absorber products with safety and comfort at the core of product development.

A pair of GT Automotive shock absorbers

Contact us today to see what we can offer in terms of pricing and availability