People tend to think a vehicle's shocks are only used to keep bumps in the road from affecting your ride. That is one responsibility, but shocks are also necessary to keep your tires free to bounce, and that's vital for proper traction, handling and braking.
If one of your shock absorbers goes bad, you need to have it replaced as soon as possible. Here are just five signs to watch out for.
1. Delayed Braking
When a shock absorber isn't working properly, it takes more time for your vehicle to stop. The difference might not be perceptible at first, but you should eventually find that it takes much longer to bring your vehicle to a complete stop. Of course, there are several possible culprits when this happens, but worn shocks are certainly one of them.
2. Excessive Vibration
Your vehicle's shock absorbers contain valves and piston seals. When one of them is worn or damaged, they cannot properly control the flow of fluid when you go over a bump. Instead of feeling the steering wheel vibrate when you're going over rough ground and then feeing it return to normal, you'll probably find that vibration remains consistent when you drive. If you're travelling at highway speeds, vibrations could become intense enough to interfere with your control of the car.
3. Uneven Tire Wear
A properly functioning shock absorber is able to keep its tire firmly on the road. If this isn't happening, there will be a slight bounce as the vehicle moves, and the part of the tire in contact with the road will wear more than the part that isn't in contact. This contact area will change as the tire rotates and driving factors, such as speed, start to change. However, you should be able to notice excessively worn patches in the tire tread.
4. Unexplained Swerving
When one of your shock absorbers needs replacing, the weight of your car won't be handled properly when you're turning. As such, you may start to swerve when you step on the brake pedal, and it will take a little work to move back into the direction you want to go.
5. Tapping Sound
You'll find points at the end of each shock absorber that contain rubber bushings. When the shock absorber becomes worn, the bushing can crack. You won't be able to see this, but you may be able to hear it. Cracked bushings often result in a tapping sound whenever you hit a bump during your daily drive.
For more information, contact a local car service.