Replacing Your Vehicle’s Shock Absorbers
Your shock absorbers are one of the most vital components in your vehicle’s suspension system and they are critical to the safety and performance of any vehicle. In this blog article, we will explore how shock absorbers work, how to tell when they need replacing and how you can have your shock absorbers replaced.
What are the shock absorbers in a vehicle’s suspension and how do they work?
Shock absorbers are a major and critical component of any vehicle’s suspension system and have a significant effect on the vehicle’s ride and handling. Shock absorbers provide a smoother, more controlled ride and allow the tyre to remain in contact with the road, improving traction and safety.
The shock absorber does this by slowing down the unwanted movement of the wheel and suspension system. The shock absorber consists of a piston and rod in a fluid-filled cylinder and as the tyre experiences road irregularities the rod causes the piston to move up and down through the fluid with the motion of the suspension.
The piston is designed to allow the fluid to flow through the piston as the suspension moves. The resistance in the piston limits the speed and frequency that the shock absorber can move up and down, thus absorbing much of the kinetic energy that would otherwise go through the suspension system, allowing the motion of the wheel to slow down and follow the contour of the road surface.
Without the shock absorber the wheel would bounce up and down like a basketball as it travels over bumps in the road, taking multiple bounces after the initial impact of the bump to return to smooth motion. This is why you will often feel a bouncing sensation when your shock absorbers are worn and can no longer reduce the motion of the wheel.
The shock absorber works in conjunction with the suspension springs which support the mass of the vehicle. These two suspension components are designed to work together to provide your vehicle with optimal handling and suspension control. Adding weight to your vehicle or altering the springs and ride height can reduce the effectiveness of your shock absorbers, so it’s important to consider changing shock absorbers when modifying your suspension.
How to tell if your shock absorbers are worn out?
Most shock absorber problems are caused by the fluid or gas from the shock absorber leaking as the seals wear over time but can also be caused internally by small metal wear particles causing valves to stick or leak internal pressure which reduces damping effectiveness.
If you’re unsure of the condition of your shock absorbers, book a Pedders $28 Brake, Steering & Suspension check – we’ll provide you with a comprehensive report on the condition of your vehicle’s vital undercar components.
These are a few common signs your shock absorbers might be worn out and require replacement:
1. One of the most common signs that your shock absorbers are not working correctly is a feeling of wallowing in your suspension as the shock absorbers aren’t able to slow down the movement of the springs sufficiently. This feeling will be particularly noticeable over irregularities like speed bumps. You may also feel a constant light shudder through the steering wheel if your front shock absorbers are worn, although vibration or shaking from side-to-side generally indicates poor wheel balance.
2. When your shock absorbers are not working effectively it can result in uneven tyre wear as the tyre contact patch can oscillate when it makes contact with the road. This causes an uneven wear pattern around the tyre known as scalloping.
Should shock absorbers be replaced in pairs?
Each of your vehicle’s four shock absorbers typically experience the same conditions over their lifetime. If you find one shock absorber that needs replacing, chances are the other shock absorbers will also need replacing immediately or at some point in the near future.
It is recommended that you replace all four shock absorbers on your vehicle at the same time but if that’s not practical then certainly they must be replaced in pairs – two front or two rear.
If you raise or lower your vehicle’s ride height with aftermarket springs, you should also consider shock absorbers to suit. Altering your ride height effects your vehicles centre of gravity and may require different shock absorbers to optimize your spring change. You may also require longer travel shocks for a lifted vehicle or shorter range for a lowered vehicle.
How to get your shock absorbers replaced
Replacing your shock absorbers is a relatively straightforward task for a trained technician. Your local Pedders store will be more than happy to assist you to check the condition of your vehicle’s shock absorbers and overall suspension system and replace any worn out items required.
Pedders offers a range of replacement shock absorbers to return your vehicle’s suspension to like-new condition, or we can upgrade your vehicle with parts from our SportsRyder performance range or TrakRyder Off-road range, depending on your vehicle specification and desired use.
Pedders have shock absorbers to suit all makes and models, tailored to performance, Off-road and load-carrying and towing applications, so speak to Australia’s Number One brakes, steering and suspension specialists today.