Some studies indicate that about one in five vehicles circulates on roads with defective shock absorbers.
Since wear tends to occur gradually, many drivers find it difficult to perceive the symptoms of shock absorbers in poor condition and, however, proper maintenance is essential for safety reasons.
This indispensable element of the vehicle suspension mechanism is not only responsible for ensuring comfort, thanks to its ability to reduce vibrations, but also intervenes in safety-related features.
But how can you tell if the shock absorbers are damaged? Here we give you the keys to knowledge.
Symptoms of defective shock absorbers
The shock absorbers and springs wear so gradually that the driver hardly notices, but several symptoms help us identify who present problems.
Traces of oil
If you have the opportunity to take a look under your car, for example, when changing tires, you should also look more closely at the shock absorbers. If you discover traces of oil on their walls, it means they suffer significant damage and must replace as soon as possible. However, the fact that these spots do not exist does not mean that they are in perfect condition.
Irregular tire wear
You can also tell if the condition breaks the shock absorbers of your tires. Take a closer look at the profile of the wheels and, if the tread is not used uniformly, but has a different depth or undulation in the circumference of the tire, this indicates a damping defect. Of course, these tracks are similar to those presented by a tire that circulates at insufficient or excessive pressure.
Noise and awkward driving
When driving, pay special attention to how your car responds on the road. An uncomfortable driving experience, which generates fatigue or stress, accompanied by bumpy noises or in bad roads, represent obvious symptoms of defective damping.
However, and as we pointed out, you may have become accustomed to a poorer driving experience, so don’t despise the changes no matter how slight they may seem.
Consequences of poor cushioning
The poor condition of the shock absorbers will affect comfort, but it can also increase the braking distance by 20 percent, which significantly increases the risk of accidents. It will also influence the wear of the tires and other key parts of the car, such as the brakes, steering, and wheel bearings. By the way, that these accumulated wear will also affect, in the second place, in our pocket, since they will generate more breakdowns.
These are the most obvious consequences, but in general, you should know that a damaged suspension system will cause significant imbalances and that, taken to the extreme, they can cause even unexpected crashes or glides of the car.
That’s not all. Depending on speed and load, more dangerous situations may also arise. The vehicle responds hesitantly and will not allow us to control it as usual.
When to change the shock absorbers
Manufacturers recommend that shock absorbers and springs be checked regularly in the workshop, and even annually or every 20,000 kilometers from the 60,000 kilometers traveled.
This method can be done during a special inspection after detecting any of the symptoms described, but also as a preventive measure during tire changes.
The replacement must be done by professional mechanics who guarantee the reliability of these essential safety components.
How long do the shock absorbers last?
The average life of some shock absorbers is around 80,000 kilometers, although it will depend on several factors. First, the quality of the installed components influences its duration. Also, if you frequently drive on roads in poor condition, with a high payload or at high speeds, the wear will be greater than if driving is on highways and with efficient driving.
Shock absorbers play a crucial role in a safe driving style and a high level of comfort. If the damping force is no longer sufficient or the components are in poor condition, the driving behavior altered, and, in the worst case, we can lose control of the vehicle.
Shock absorbers that work properly are, therefore, mandatory. In case they are damaged and have to be replaced, it is worth taking it to the specialized workshop to avoid surprises in a vital element for our safety and that of passengers.