The function of shock absorbers is to make sure the tires of your vehicle stay on the ground consistently. It does this by managing how the suspension and springs move. That way, your tires are always touching the road whether the vehicle is moving or not. This also comes in real handy if you’re driving over a bumpy road. All the vibrations and shakiness from driving on such a road get absorbed by the shock absorber; hence the name.
Do not confuse a shock absorber with a strut because they have differences. The strut is built into the structure of the suspension system while the shock absorber connects two parts of the suspension together. In other words, all the vehicle’s weight is placed on top of the strut and not the shock absorber.
The Top 6 Symptoms of a Faulty Shock Absorber
The shock absorber or strut can eventually go bad and ultimately fail to work. A lot of people have trouble figuring out which one has gone bad when strange symptoms arise. Below are the top 6 symptoms of a faulty shock absorber that you can watch out for.
- Bushing Crack – The points on each end of the shock absorber contain rubber bushings. All it would take is for a crack to form in the rubber bushing and it will result in a tapping sound that you can hear each time you hit a bump while driving.
- Vibrations – The shock absorber has valves and piston seals inside of it. If either one of them gets too worn, the flow of fluid won’t be controlled, and it will move through the piston seal and/or valve. Once that happens, the steering wheel will vibrate each time you drive over a bump, regardless of how big or small it is.
- Fluid Leak – The shock absorber’s body has seals to protect it from leaking. After a while, these seals will start to leak fluid along the side of the shock absorber’s body until it falls on the ground. If the shocks lose too much fluid, then it won’t be able to function properly.
- Swerving – If you step on the brake pedal while turning, you may experience swerving or nose diving. When the shock absorber is faulty, the weight of your car will move in the opposite direction while you’re turning. This will cause you to swerve and it will take more work just to fix the turn toward the direction you want to go.
- Brakes React Slowly – If you step on the brake pedal and your car takes a while to slow down and stop, then your shock absorber might be faulty. This could arise from the length of the piston rod not being taken up fast enough by the vehicle. So, the vehicle needs more time to complete this task.
- Tire Wear Unevenness – Since a bad shock absorber will cause your tires to be unevenly placed on the road, your car will begin to bounce as you drive on it. Only certain areas of your tire will actually be touching the road, which will result in these areas becoming more worn than the areas which are not touching the road. Therefore, you will have uneven tire wear.
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If you discovered that you have a faulty shock absorber, then the average cost to replace it will be between $220 and $365. The part itself will cost anywhere from $70 to $175, depending on the make and model of your vehicle. The labor costs for the replacement work will be between $140 and $190, depending on the hourly rates of your auto body shop. This is not a very expensive procedure, but make sure you get the replacement done promptly before bigger damage is done to your vehicle.