Shock absorbers play an integral role in maintaining your car's balance. The name may sometimes mislead you to believe that their only function is to absorb shock when in reality, they do a lot more than that. They are critical in deciding the ride quality, tire life, and suspension wear.

Like all mobile parts of a vehicle, shock absorbers or 'shocks' suffer wear and tear with the efflux of time and will need replacement. The average lifespan of a shock absorber is around 4-5 years. Knowing when to replace your shock absorber is essential, as is having a good understanding of shock absorber prices and quality.

Signs That Your Shock Absorber Needs Replacement

You can press down the hood of your car with both your hands. If the car comes up and settles immediately, it generally means the car is fine. Instead, if the car bounces or shows signs of non-settlement, then it means the shocks need replacement. 

Other signs include vibration of the steering wheel, fluid leak, noises, swerving while braking, etc. Unexplained tire wear could also indicate that the shock absorber cannot keep the tire securely on the ground. Regular inspection can prevent accidents.

Steps to Follow

If it's come to your notice that your car isn't driving as smoothly as it used to, or the car bounces excessively when going over a bump or gutter, it may be time to get new shocks.

Inspect the Shock Absorbers

Your first step should be to suspend the car and take a look at the shock absorbers. If they look worn or you notice a fluid leak, then it's time to replace them. You could also try removing the shock and pressing it down with your hand. If it doesn't show good resistance, it means it's no longer useful.

Buy New Shock Absorbers

Shock absorber prices will vary based on quality and type. There are two main types of shock absorbers, stand-alone shock absorber and suspension strut. A strut is not essentially a shock absorber by definition but a structural part of the entire vehicle designed to minimise compression. 

Some cars need both shock and integrated struts. Other types include reservoir shocks filled with fluid and pressurised with nitrogen or air, spiral shocks that have a spring around them to support the vehicle's weight and suspension, monotube shocks, and twin-tube shocks.

Get the Car Ready and in Position

You will have to park the car on the levelled ground and loosen the lug nuts. Use a ramp or jack to raise the vehicle and then remove the tires to find the shock absorbers. Spraying metal cleaner on them will help loosen the bolts. 

Remove the Shock Absorbers

Unfasten and remove the shock absorbers. You may need a socket and ratchet to remove the bolts. Use a nut splitter to disconnect the suspension and detach the bolt. Proper lubrication can make this process a lot easier.

Affix New Shock Absorbers

The new shock absorbers should be installed in the suspension control system. Reattach the anti-roll bars and screw in the bolts. It may be best to take professional help since this process requires balancing. Attach the tires back only after all shock absorbers are installed and checked. It may also be a reasonable thing to test drive your car in an empty lot to verify if the shocks are impactful. Pay attention to noises and movements while driving.

Consult a Professional Mechanic

Seeking professional help might be the best choice unless you are an expert yourself. Shock absorbers are pivotal for safety, and they need to be installed carefully and correctly. Professional mechanics can identify defects faster and know which type of shock absorber will work best for your car. Not installing shock absorbers right can even have dangerous consequences like accidents.