Are your shock absorbers bad?
If you've been experiencing an exceptionally bouncy feeling or too much vibration when you are driving, then you are probably suspecting something is wrong with your suspension. Maybe it's the coil springs, maybe it's the shocks, or maybe it's the control arms. But the warning signs of failing shock absorbers are very easy to see. You can tell that your car or truck's shocks need to be replaced if, in addition to sloppy handling, you see "cupping" on your tires. Uneven and periodic tread wear on the tire will present as small cups or flat spots due to excessive bounce. The last, and most evident, sign of a bad shock is leaking or weeping hydraulic fluid. This usually means that one or more of the seals that keep the hydraulic fluid inside the tube has torn and the shock absorber is no longer worth keeping. It should be replaced as soon as possible. Suspension issues compromise the driver's ability to control the vehicle, and present safety concerns if problems are not fixed.
When did shock absorbers become popular?
Though the shock absorber was first used on an automobile in the first decade of the 20th century
, it wasn't until the mid-1930's that it achieved widespread use on independent front suspensions. A shock absorber dampens the travel of the spring by forcing a valve and piston down into the tube where it compresses compartments filled hydraulic fluid and gas separated by a piston. The heat and potential energy created by this process then forces the piston and valve back up providing smooth vertical motion (which transfers to the control arms or axle shafts) and variable response rate to impact. The shock absorber was an innovation over a hundred years ago, and it is still widely used today.
You can do it yourself.
When it's time to replace your shocks, there are some safety precautions you must make before undertaking the job. As long as you have the proper tools and have a decent handle on your vehicle's suspension, it shouldn't be too difficult.
- First, lift your car or truck and set it on jack stands. If you need to remove the wheels to access your shocks (which you will likely need to do), then you should loosen the lug nuts before lifting your vehicle. Then when it is up, you can finish removing them and taking off the wheels.
- Now, with your wheels off, begin to remove your brakes. If they do not interfere with your job, then you do not have to remove them. But many times it is easier to work on your suspension if you can remove the caliper, hang it off an axle or frame rail, and take off the rotor.
- Next, find the lower shock mounting plates and/or hardware and remove it. Sometimes you will see it attached to a mounting plate that is welded to the axle shaft housing, other times it will be bolted to a radius or trailing arm. Don't be surprised if the axle drops a little when you do this. Keep it supported if necessary.
- Then, remove all the upper hardware as well. You can now remove the old shock absorber and replace it with a new one.
- Finally, re-install all components in reverse order.
A great vehicle has great parts.
Buying new suspension components for your car or truck doesn't have to be a pain in the rear end. At Car Parts Discount, we sell top name brand shock absorbers for all sorts of makes and models. Whether you want a high quality aftermarket brand like Monroe or KYB or an original equipment manufacturer like Sachs or Bilstein, we have the part you need at a price you can afford. So look no further and wait no longer.