Have you noticed your vehicle handles differently than normal? Perhaps a bit bumpier or wobblier than you’re used to? If so, worn shocks or struts may be the culprit. Shocks and struts (every vehicle has one or the other, never both) do far more than supply a smooth ride — they allow you to effectively control your vehicle.
Since these components are so critical for you and your passengers’ safety, it’s important to be able to recognize when they’re due for replacement. Below, our AA Auto Tech team discusses telltale signs that your struts or shocks require professional attention.
Instability or Rattling
When you drive over minor bumps or holes, does your vehicle feel unstable? Can you hear a rattling sound? Is there a worrisome amount of wobbling when you pass over a speed bump? If so, it’s definitely time for new shocks or struts!
Why? Your vehicle’s shocks or struts are designed to absorb impact when you pass over minor irregularities in an otherwise smooth roadway. When those shock absorbers are worn, however, they cannot effectively control the transfer of vibrations to the suspension system. Ultimately, when worn shocks cannot soften blows from the road, repeated impacts can put undue pressure on other components of your vehicle.
To prevent further shock-related wear, take your vehicle to a licensed auto repair shop at your earliest convenience.
Uneven Tire Wear
Take a quick look at your tires — can you see uneven, patchy wear? If so, it may be time for shock or strut replacement. When your shocks or struts are performing as they should, they function to maintain uniform tire contact with the pavement at all times. However, as shocks or struts wear over time, they can allow your tires to contact the road unevenly. In many cases, worn shocks or struts can allow cause gradual misalignment of your tires.
Because maintaining full tire-pavement contact is critical for you and your passengers’ safety, uneven tire wear is a major red flag. To determine the culprit behind uneven tire wear, take your vehicle to an auto repair shop that can inspect the shocks and the alignment for potential problems.
Vehicle Veers to One Side
Do you drive in gusty winds? How does your vehicle respond? If it veers to one side or the other, that’s a potential sign that your shocks or struts have gone bad. When shocks or struts are fully intact, any vehicle should maintain its alignment within the lane, regardless of windy weather conditions. To determine whether you need parts replacement or an alignment adjustment, visit a licensed auto repair shop for a vehicle inspection.
Prolonged Stopping Distance
Worn shocks or struts can increase vehicle stopping distance by up to 20% — a significant safety hazard even in dry road conditions. In rainy weather, however, worn shocks or struts can mean the difference between a safe stop and a devastating auto accident. If you’ve noticed your vehicle takes longer than usual to stop, you probably have one of two problems: worn shocks or worn brakes. Either situation requires your prompt attention, so have the issue checked out at your earliest convenience.
Unusual Steering Wheel Vibration
When you’re driving, how much does your steering wheel vibrate? It’s normal for uneven road surfaces to cause mild to moderate steering wheel vibrations, but if those vibrations persist on smooth roadways, you may be dealing with a shock absorber problem. Have your shocks or struts (whichever your vehicle has) inspected by a qualified auto mechanic to rule out other vibration-causing problems.
Dipping or Swerving Front or Rear End
When you brake, does the front of your vehicle dip downward? What about when you accelerate? Does the rear end of your vehicle dip toward the pavement? Worse still, does braking or accelerating cause any degree of swerving?
If any of these situations sound familiar, worn shocks or struts may be the culprit. Swerving and dipping are especially dangerous in wet weather, as they can contribute to hydroplaning. For your own safety, head to your local auto mechanic for an inspection as soon as you can.
AA Auto Tech: Your Twin Cities Source for Comprehensive Auto Repair & Maintenance
At AA Auto Tech, we take your vehicle problems as seriously as you do. Worn shocks or struts can present a serious safety hazard for you and your passengers, so if you think it’s time for replacements, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team. To schedule your auto repair appointment, give us a call at 651-437-2218 or send us a message on our contact page, and a member of our team will be in touch with you promptly.