Your car’s tyres and shock absorbers work together to give you a safe journey from A to B. Shock absorbers help to keep your tyres on the ground, and the tyres grip the road to allow you to control your car while you drive. Tyre road surface contact is also important for braking. The less contact of tyre and road has a negative impact on stopping a vehicle.
Your tyres’ contact with the road surface is what gives you control over your vehicle. We’ve talked before on this blog about tyre tread depth and why maintaining your tread is so important for your safety on the road. Shock absorbers also play a major role in keeping the contact between your tyres and the road consistent.
When you drive over bumps and irregularities in the road’s surface, your tyres will be inclined to “bounce” over them. The suspension of your vehicle includes springs which help to prevent bouncing and give you a safer, more comfortable ride. These springs are known as shock absorbers.
Shock absorbers are filled with oil, which works to hydraulically “dampen” the impact of bumps and irregularities, and prevents the wheels from bouncing on the road. This means your tyres maintain more consistent contact with the road’s surface, and you maintain better control over your vehicle.
Wear and Tear on Shock Absorbers
There are two main issues that can affect the performance of your shock absorbers, namely leaking (caused by ageing or damage) and over-heating (through rough conditions or overloading).
- Leaking means the shock absorbers lose their oil, which means they can no longer absorb shocks, and wheel bounce will start to occur when you drive your car.
- Over-heating causes the oil to become thinner and form air bubbles, which also severely impacts the performance of the shock absorbers and leads to wheel bounce.
The Dangers of Worn Shock Absorbers
Shock absorbers are critical to the safety of a vehicle. Worn or damaged shocks will reduce your ability to control your car while you drive, and this could easily cause an accident.
A worn shock absorber can also lead to tyre wear. The bouncing will cause uneven wear patterns and reduce your tyres’ contact with the road. Even brand-new tyres will start to wear down quicker if your shocks aren’t in good condition.
Lastly, worn shocks cause wear to your suspension, which makes your car more difficult to handle.
Are Your Shocks Worn?
Because you don’t see your car’s shock absorbers, it can be hard to keep an eye on their condition. Here are some signs to look out for in your car that may indicate worn or damaged shock absorbers.
- Bald patches on your tyres
- Vibration in the steering wheel
- Your car doesn’t hug the road on bends and turns
- Your car veers around excessively in side winds
- You car “nose dives” when you brake
- You notice excessive bouncing on rough surfaces
On average, shock absorbers tend to become less effective after three years. Be sure to have your shocks checked whenever you get your vehicle serviced, and if you notice any tell-tale signs of worn shocks, get it checked out immediately to ensure your safety.