Shocks and Struts are part of your car's suspension system, which
controls the up-and-down and side-to-side motion. Without the suspension
system, every time you drove over a bump, the car would bounce and bounce
and bounce. You'd need to have a good supply of Dramamine on hand every time
you headed off to work or the grocery store.
Shocks, struts, and springs — springs are also
part of the suspension system — not only make the ride more comfortable,
they make the ride safer. That's because they help keep the tires in
constant contact with the road, and that affects steering, stability, and
braking. If the suspension isn't working like it should, your car won't hold
the road like it needs to. That can be dangerous.
Even if you don't know a lot about cars, you
may have heard the term "MacPherson struts." They're named after the
engineer who designed them and they're found on most front wheel drive cars.
They combine the spring and the shock absorber into one unit. A more compact
unit is beneficial because so many of today's vehicles are smaller and
lighter and have precious little extra space in the front of the car.
Shocks and struts — in fact, all "front end
work" (that includes all suspension and steering components) — have
traditionally been an area of high consumer rip-off. Some mechanics will
tell you that you need new shocks and struts when you don't and, since you
might not know better (and the mechanic has that Very Serious Mechanic Look
on his face), you may buy new ones when you don't need to.
The truth is, it's not easy for you to tell
when your shocks and struts need to be replaced. Here's one test: step down
firmly on the bumper at each corner of your vehicle. Then take your foot of
the bumper. There should be little or no bounce. This isn't a very accurate
test, though, as some shocks that are worn, pass the step-on-the-bumper
Another way to determine whether you need
new shocks is to look at the tread on your tires. If the tread is worn
erratically, that indicates the tires are bouncing up and down. (The
technical term for this pattern is "cupping" or "scalloping.")
One of the best ways to keep worn shocks
from becoming a problem is to have your suspension inspected regularly —
first at 25,000 miles then every 15,000 miles after that. Shocks and struts
generally last about 25,000 miles, but that will vary depending on the type
of shocks your car has and the kind of roads you drive on. Springs usually
last the life of the car.
If you notice any of these problems with your vehicle, stop by Nichols
Automotive Service Center and let our friendly, professional mechanics
advise you of your options. We will not rip you off, just offer
professional, courteous advice, repair and service.