Shock absorbers, or struts, as they are sometimes called, are an essential part of your car’s suspension. They are small oil pumps with a piston inside that controls suspension, so the primary job of a shock absorber is to absorb excess spring motion and suspension while maintaining tyre contact with the road. Since they give resistance the faster the suspension moves, they automatically adjust to road conditions. In order to ensure a more comfortable ride and to increase stability when driving, shock absorbers help to smooth out bumps and vibrations.

    Shock absorbers have a significant impact on your car’s safety and considering the conditions of our roads right now, proper contact with the road surface is even more crucial. We encourage motorists to check their shock absorbers to ensure optimum braking, steering and stability as other car parts, like tyres, may be affected by worn shocks. If they are damaged or worn, your suspension will not operate correctly, and your tyres will not adequately grip the road.

    Now that you know what your shocks do, it will be easier to spot the signs of wear and to tell if shock absorbers need replacing.

    Signs that shocks need replacing:

    • Uncomfortable ride: Although the roads in South Africa are at times very uneven and riddled with potholes, if your shocks are worn, the quality of driving will feel worse, and going over a speed bump will feel more pronounced.
    • Poor steering: Worn shocks affect steering in the following ways – a stiff steering wheel, the car leans when turning and difficulty keeping the car in a straight line.
    • Vibrations: Feeling a lot of vibration through the steering wheel indicates a good chance that shocks are worn out.
    • Bad braking response: Taking long to brake is one of the leading causes of bad shocks. Also, swerving or nose-diving while braking can indicate that shocks need replacing.
    • Tapping sound: Shock absorbers have bushing at each end. They are made from rubber and can easily crack, stopping your shocks from working correctly. Most of the time, when bushing is broken, your car will make a knocking or a tapping sound when you are going over a speed bump or a pothole.
    • Uneven tyre wear: Uneven wear around the tyres is caused when the car’s suspension is damaged. Look out for bald spots on your tyres.
    • Leaking fluid: A tell-tale sign of bad shocks is the leaking of fluid (oil) from the shock absorber especially when turning or stopping the car. In this case it is best to replace all four shock absorbers at the same time, usually if one goes the rest will follow soon.

    What causes worn shocks?

    There is natural wear and tear on shock absorbers as with all other car parts. There are however additional factors that can accelerate damage to shocks:

    • Potholes: If you are frequently hitting potholes, this will cause your car to rebound and damage your shocks.
    • Dirt roads: When travelling on dirt roads, sand particles penetrate the seals of your shocks which causes damage and results in fluid leakage.
    • Mud: Mud finds its way into various car parts, including your shocks. This can damage the seals and cause leaks.

    Extend the life of your shock absorbers by avoiding these conditions as well as regularly checking them and cleaning the wheel hubs of your car.

    Your shocks should be inspected once a year at least or every 20 000kms. If you recognise any of these signs, have your shocks checked by a professional. If you are unsure of the state of your shock absorbers you can always visit your nearest Super Tyres branch to have it checked out.

    We stock the highest quality brands: Monroe, Gabriel and KYB.