On many vehicles, the shocks and struts are susceptible to wear over time, especially here in New England where the winter potholes can really put your suspension to the test. The timeline for shock and strut maintenance will vary depending on what you drive and what your everyday driving conditions are like.
Drivers should always reference their vehicle owner’s manual for manufacturer-specific service recommendations but, if you’re worried, here are some common things to look for:
The Visual Cues
Visual cues are usually the earliest indicators of a problem. You might notice that your tires are unevenly worn or show abnormally flat areas or that there’s fluid leakage from the shocks or struts. If you can, check to see if the shock or strut bodies are dented or damaged, and examine the bushings for corrosion. If not, call your mechanic and ask them to take a look.
The Driving Cues
Driving cues are usually the more obvious signs of a problem, but most drivers don’t notice them on them until it’s too late. Some early indicators to watch for include:
- Excessive bouncing: When you drive over a big bump, pothole, or a patch of rough road and your vehicle continues to bounce after your tires are on even pavement. If this your car may need a shock or strut replacement in the very near future.
- Front “Nose-Diving”: If the front end of your vehicle (otherwise known as the nose of your car) dives toward the ground when braking, your shocks and struts need to be replaced, or at least evaluated.
- Rear “Squatting”: When the rear end of your vehicle “squats” toward the ground as you accelerate. Additionally, if you make a turn and the vehicle dips drastically to one side, your shocks or struts may need to be replaced.
- Instability at High Speeds: You may notice less control when steering or a shaking in the wheel, that the car wanders slightly from side to side, or bounces lightly on the highway. All of these symptoms are indicative of a serious problem.
Well-maintained shocks and struts are critical to the overall safety and stability of your vehicle. We highly recommend having shocks and struts serviced regularly and replaced well before there is an issue. If you observe any of these symptoms while you’re in your driving around or under the hood, it’s time to bring your vehicle in.