Suspension systems function effectively for many years and tens of thousands of miles. Eventually, however, suspension components do wear out, but how long that takes depends a lot on how you drive around and .
As you can imagine, if most of your driving is on smooth highways, your shock absorbers will last a lot longer than if you do most of your driving on bumpy roads or haul heavy loads. In addition to just wearing out, suspension components can be damaged in an accident or by a hard impact - like a pothole, hitting a curb or a rock in the road. Because the life span of shocks can vary so widely, auto makers recommend periodic inspections.
During an inspection at in , your automotive service technician will check for worn, broken or missing parts.
Here's a quick rundown of suspension system components:
First there are the springs which hold the weight of your . There are several varieties of springs. Springs are obviously heavy duty parts that rarely break or wear out. Shock absorbers work in conjunction with springs to smooth out the ride and help keep the tires on the road. Good shocks are essential for handling performance and ride comfort.
You've probably heard of struts. They combine a shock absorber and a coil spring in one unit. Shocks and struts will wear out over time. If your tires develop a cupped wear pattern, your shocks or struts may be wearing out. This is from the shocks bouncing unevenly. You may notice a floaty or drifting sensation when cornering. If the front of your dives excessively when stopping, or rocks back and forth after you've stopped, your shocks may be worn out. And if they are leaking fluid, it's definitely time to replace them at .
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, visit for a suspension inspection. Same if you've been in an accident that involved one of your wheels. If your suspension actually fails, it could lead to a serious accident, so don't put it off.
When you replace your shocks, it's usually a good idea to replace all four at the same time. That'll give you more even handling. Talk with your technician because you don't want a big difference between the performance of your shocks from wheel to wheel, and replacing all may be the safest bet.
There are different grades of shocks and struts. You always want to use a replacement shock or strut that equals the one that came as original equipment when your was new. But remember, they were designed to meet the expected needs of the broad range of people who buy that particular vehicle. Your needs may be more specialized.
For example, if you want increased handling performance, your advisor can recommend an upgraded shock or strut specially designed for improved handling. If you haul heavy loads or trailers, we can recommend some heavy duty shock absorbers.