How do car shocks and struts work?.
The car shocks and struts are the vehicle components that are important for driving and safety. While most people focus on the performance of the engine and brake systems, shocks and struts are components of the car that you should take care of and maintain them in good condition.
The car shock absorber and strut are responsible for a stop or absorb shocks from the road surface to the car body, increasing the convenience of driving and traveling. In case it malfunctions, it will reduce driving safety and may cause an accident as well.
Therefore, you should understand the working principle of the shock absorber, how to inspect for the damage, and how to change it on time.
Most car shock absorbers installed in Japanese, American, or European cars have the same operating principles, but their performance may vary by the car model.
In a standard car, gas and oil shock absorbers are work with a coil spring. If you look in the front wheel arch, you will see a black coil spring with the shock absorber installed inside. This thing is called the strut.
The rear wheels will have a shock absorber installed separately from the coil spring without a bearing of strut mount at its top because there is no need to turn the wheel in any way. It’s an easy system but an effective suspension system designed to prevent diving while braking and rear squat when accelerating.
What is the Difference Between Shocks and Struts?.
The front wheels fitted with struts, consisting of a shock absorber, springs, and the strut mount, which consists of a ball bearing unit at the top. The bearings would make the struts turn to the same direction of the wheel when we turn the car.
Most cars have a sway bar attached between the strut and stabilizer bar to maintain the balance of the car while running or turning. Besides, the camber and caster angle of the wheel is determined by the strut as well.
If this camber or caster angle changed from the factory setting, it will cause your car not to run straight or difficult to turn and cause tire wear.
Therefore, the car strut is considered a necessary component of the front car’s suspension system.
However, if the strut is broke, you do not need to change the whole set. You can use the old spring with the new one, but you should change the bearings at the same time because they are the worn components. At least it saves money in your pocket, no need to pay double labor cost. It is because in case you only change the strut without it, the bearing will damage soon. It may be before the second set of your car struts and shocks.
The rear wheels are fitted only with the shocks and coil springs because it is a simple design suspension. Besides coping with the load on the back end, it prevents the car squats when accelerating. Another function of the rear shocks is to maintain the driving stability of rear suspension when you drive on different road conditions.
For an easy understanding, you should always remember that most of the struts installed on the front wheels, except some car brands like Subaru car which use it in the rear suspension too, and the shock absorbers installed on the rear wheels of the standard car.
From the picture, you can see the difference between the strut and shock absorber.
The Symptom of worn shocks and struts
As you know, the shock absorber and strut work to stop vibration from uneven, bumpy, or off-road surfaces. Inside the shock absorber cylinder,
oil flows through the internal valve at all times. At normal work status,
it will have a smooth up-down movement whenever it has loaded.
The oil pressure in the cylinder will play a key role in pushing the wheels to contact on the road surface at all times and stop the spring rebound.
Therefore, you should understand that the shock and strut do not have the leading function to load the weight as the spring does.
The damaged parts can cause directly to car performance, even the accident. Then you would time to time check its condition.
Below are symptoms of broken shocks and struts.
- Check by pushing down on all four wheels of the car one by one. If you find that the car bounces up and down more than two times after letting go of the hand, that means the shock absorber is broke.
- Check the absorber by sight to see it has the oil flows out of the absorber cylinder, then the absorber is broken.
- Try driving at a regular speed that you think it is safe for yourself and others and then brake the car vigorously. If the front of the vehicle has severe diving and has longer braking distances than usual, then your shock absorber is abnormal. It may start to worn out.
- Try driving with fast acceleration if the rear of the car squatted lower than usual that is the symptoms of worn absorbers.
- Observe the condition of the tire that it is worn out or not. It is because the car with the damaged shock absorber will cause the wheels to bounce up and down, causing the surface of the tire to wear into the strips.
- Try to turn a car while driving, such as driving a slalom. If you find that the vehicle has more side-to-side slides when turning it to one side, such as turning left and the right front wheel slipping out of the way you are controlling. That may be a sign of damage.
When should you replace the struts and shock absorbers?
If you’ve tested and found the problems as described above, it’s time to consider a new set of shock and strut. The strut and shock are car components that do not show sudden damage, but it takes time for the worn-out continuously according to the distance and operating time of your car.
Usually, this part will have a lifespan of approximately 70,000 miles or 100,000 kilometers. Depending on the driving conditions, more or less.
The car strut and shock absorber are vehicle parts that should not repair because they are not worth the cost. The auto parts store will quote you for this part at 200-300 dollars only. You might pay less than half of this amount for repair, but it will damage soon.
People may ask which parts they should change, the strut, shock, or coil spring?. You don’t need to change the coil spring unless the spring is broken or snapped.
It can happen on some vehicles that are in extreme driving conditions or use low-quality materials from the car factory.
Other than that, the ball bearings or strut mount on the front wheel, you should consider changing it at the same time even without showing the sign of worn-out, because, in the end, this part will eventually break down.
It will save your money to don’t have to pay double labor costs.