How do I know if my shock absorbers need attention?

By David Sholicar

The chances are that you probably don’t give your vehicle’s shock absorbers a great deal of thought, unless you become aware of a problem. But they’re just one part of your car’s suspension, which usually relies on those shock absorbers, as well as coils and struts, to keep your vehicle smooth and level throughout every journey.

Shock Absorber

But it’s not the just the comfort for you and your passengers that’s at stake. Problems with suspension can have an impact on other aspects of the vehicle, including an increased risk of aquaplaning on wet surfaces and increasing braking distances. Over time, suspension issues can affect the vehicle’s safety, compromising steering and road handling.

Problems come on slowly

Problems with your car’s suspension are more likely to develop slowly, over a period of time, so it’s unlikely that a driver will notice them until the implications are already quite serious. But there are certainly plenty of early warning signs, for those who look out for them, so pay attention if you notice any of the following issues with your vehicle:

  • a tendency to pull to one side, particularly when turning

  • a bumpy ride on all road surfaces

  • excessive dipping of the bonnet when braking

  • problems with steering

  • pronounced swaying, particularly in high winds

  • vehicle looks uneven when parked

  • noticeable leaks from the shocks

  • uneven wear of tyres

  • aquaplaning

  • passengers complaining of travel sickness

For you and your passengers to have the safest and smoothest ride possible, your vehicle’s tyres need to be kept in close contact with the road’s surface at all times. Wet weather aquaplaning causes the tyre’s tread to lose contact with the road, which aside from being uncomfortable, is potentially lethal too.
Unless you have a fair degree of mechanical knowledge, checking your vehicle’s suspension is unlikely to be of particular benefit. It takes a knowledgeable mechanic to spot potential problems and to make sure that your vehicle is completely safe and roadworthy.

Act swiftly to detect suspension problems

Whilst you may be riding on top of the range tyres from Pirelli, Bridgestone or Michelin, that still won’t counteract the effects of a problem suspension. In our experience, the sooner you act the better, since a compromised suspension system guarantees further expense down the line as other vehicle parts, including your tyres and steering, become affected.
The various elements of your car’s suspension system work together to dampen the effects of any bumps in the road’s surface. This makes for the smoothest possible ride, although there’s much more to this system than simply ensuring passenger comfort. The smoother the ride, the greater the degree of contact that your tyres have with the road surface, giving a safer driving experience.
Get complete peace of mind with a free car suspension check at one of our Protyre garages. One of our fully-trained technicians will make sure that all components are fit for purpose, and if any work is recommended, we’ll give you a no-obligation quote and complete the work at a time convenient for you.

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About the author

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By David Sholicar
David is the National Retail Operations Manager for Protyre. One of David’s areas of responsibility and expertise is dealing with the DVSA and MOT’s for Protyre. As the Authorised Examiner Designate Manager ( AEDM ) David deals with applications for changes to the many Vehicle Testing Stations ( VTS’s) including managing the growth of the Number of MOT testing stations that Protyre operate, allocating MOT tester roles, and monitoring the MOT Test logs to ensure that Protyre MOT standards are maintained as the best in the industry.
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