Have you started experiencing some bouncy rides lately and you are looking for a shock absorber replacement? If that is the case and you are having this problem, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic.
- Shock Absorber?
- Shock VS Strut
- Bad Shock Symptoms
- When To Replace?
Having a problem with the shock absorbers can be somewhat tricky to handle. Why I’m saying this? Well, because it is true, shock absorbers are important in your car. They help your car absorb all the impacts and deliver you a good ride quality.
Without the shocks being in proper working order, your ride quality will be really bad. The car will start to produce bad shock symptoms and will indicate that there is an issue. Not to mention the discomfort that you will experience when this will happen to your car. And this is why you need to learn how to tell if your shocks need replacement. And we are going to help you out.
First, we will learn what is a shock absorber and then we will learn the difference between shocks and struts. After that, we will learn more about the bad shock symptoms and learn how to diagnose a bad shock. Then we will move on and cover the shock absorber replacement and the costs involved. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
What Is A Shock Absorber?
Now before we dive into more complex topics such as the shock absorber replacement, let’s first learn the basics and what is a shock absorber in general. Knowing this will help you out when it comes to locating this component and also replacing it. So, let’s get into it.
A shock absorber or a damper is a device that is installed on each of the wheels that you have. This shock absorber as its name implies has the role of absorbing the impacts while you drive on the road.
Imagine that you drive on an uneven surface and you don’t have shock absorbers. You will be the one that will absorb all of the hits and you will feel nausea and the drive would be really unpleasant. It’s the same as you drive a tractor on the field.
That’s why in order to improve comfort, carmakers have invented something known as a hydraulic shock absorber.
This is why hydraulic shock absorbers are still the mainstream right now when it comes to cars. Every car has them. But how do they work? Well, they work with the help of something known as a hydraulic fluid.
The hydraulic fluid is used in a ton of applications and has really good characteristics when it comes to absorbing impacts. The shock absorber is a simple hydraulic device that has a piston inside which moves up and down based on the input from the road surface that you drive on. And this design hasn’t changed in the last 100 years.
Still, though, shock absorbers have become more and more refined throughout the years. But they still can fail and require a shock absorber replacement. But more on this later on.
Difference Between Shocks And Struts
Now before we cover the shock absorber replacement, we need to talk about something really important. And that is the difference between shocks and struts. What is different between these two components? We like to cover this topic because there is a ton of confusion and people really cannot tell the difference between the two sometimes. So, let’s elaborate on this.
Let’s start with the strut first. If you didn’t know, this component is also known as a MacPherson strut. This is a suspension component that is mounted on the front wheels.
This component is also known as a strut assembly. This component is only intended for the front wheels and it is a whole assembly. It contains the strut which is the main thing, the shock absorber, and the spring.
The strut is basically a shock absorber in the core. But this design has a lot more to it than just absorbing impacts. It actively participates in the steering of the vehicle besides absorbing impacts and does a ton of other tasks.
On the other hand, the shock absorber is just a shock absorber. The shock absorbers are mounted in the rear end and they are solely designed to absorb impacts.
So, you will never see a shock absorber with a spring around it. When it comes to shocks, you only have to replace the exact component which is the shock. But how you can tell if you need a shock absorber replacement? What are the tell-tell symptoms that you need to perform this work on your car? Well, more on that we are going to cover in the following chapters more in-depth.
Bad Shocks Symptoms
Now let’s cover the bad shocks symptoms. Knowing the symptoms will tell you if you need to perform a shock absorber replacement.
As you probably know, every component when it starts to fail it starts to show symptoms and some of them are noticeable while some of them are much more hidden and you really need to understand these symptoms to determine if the shocks are bad. But you shouldn’t worry because we are going to help you out with that in the following chapters by listing all of the symptoms needed for you to know.
1. Rear End Squats When Accelerating Indicates Need For Shock Absorber Replacement
The first and most obvious symptom that indicates a need for shock absorber replacement is the situation when the rear end squats.
This will be quite noticeable under acceleration. Whenever you accelerate the car, you will notice how the rear end will go down quite a bit and will resemble a squat condition. So, if this is the case with your car, then you definitely are having a problem with the rear-end shocks.
One of them, or both are probably failing or has failed. So, you will probably need a shock absorber replacement and brand new shocks. Later on in the article, we are going to cover how you can test a specific shock to see if it needs replacement or not. This will be an interesting topic to cover. But first, let’s cover the rest of the bad shocks symptoms.
2. Bouncy Ride Over Bumps
The next symptom of bad shocks that we are going to cover before we learn the shock absorber replacement is the situation when you experience a bouncy ride.
Whenever the shocks are failing they will leak out all the fluid inside and will allow air to get inside them. And as we know, air doesn’t do well, when it comes to compression.
So, this will cause the car to bounce a lot when you have a problem like this. You will notice this experience when going over big potholes or rocks.
The rear end of the car will like to jump a lot and will be really unpleasant to drive a car like this. So, whenever this happens to you, you know that you need a shock absorber replacement. But more on that we will cover in a bit.
3. Knocking Noises Indicate Need For Shock Absorber Replacement
The next symptom that we would like to cover is the knocking noises when going over bumps. The empty shocks that require a shock absorber replacement will not absorb the hits on the road.
So, whenever you drive a car like this, you will start to hear some knocks and other sounds from the rear end of the car.
There will be a bouncy ride along with the noises that will be experienced. So, whenever you notice something knocking on the rear end, it means that this problem needs to be taken care of as soon as possible. But more on that later on when we are going to learn how to diagnose this problem and how you can do a shock absorber replacement.
4. Uneven Tire Tread Wear
The next symptom that we are going to cover that indicates a need for a shock absorber replacement is the uneven wear and tear of the tires.
Whenever there is a bad shock, it could cause the car to go out of alignment. And when this does happen, then you have the wheels going in different directions.
This will cause uneven wear on the tire and could ruin the tire completely. The only solution for this issue will be to repair or replace the shock or any suspension component that is bad on that specific wheel. And then do a wheel alignment on the car to return the car to the factory settings.
Wheel alignment is a crucial thing and many people think that they don’t need it. Which in reality is completely wrong and you definitely need it if you want to have proper wear and tear of the suspension components. But what about the shock absorber replacement? More on that in a bit after we cover all the bad shocks symptoms.
5. Longer Stopping Distance
The next symptom that we would like to cover when it comes to the shock absorber replacement is the longer stopping distance.
The car will have trouble accelerating and stopping when the struts or the shocks have failed. So, why is this the case?
Well, this is the case because the gravitational force of the car when trying to come to a stop will be much greater in comparison to when the shocks are in good condition.
It will dive and squat. All this is energy that is spent and this extra gravitational force from the car not being perfectly stable will going to result in poor stopping power. It could also wear off your brakes much quicker in comparison to when the shock absorbers are in good condition.
This is why you need a shock absorber replacement. Your car needs to come to a stop properly and you need to avoid getting in dangerous situations because of bad shocks.
6. Rear Shocks Leaking
The next symptoms that we are going to cover are the visual symptoms that a shock has failed on your car. And the shock absorber replacement is essential in order to sort out the problem.
The first of the visual symptoms is the situation when you have visual leaks coming from the shock absorbers.
If you care a lot for your car and you wash it regularly. You will probably notice these leaks that will be on the bottom of the shock as well as on the ground. Usually, the hydraulic fluid that is used on the shocks is red in color. So, there would be some red stains and also greasy stains on the bottom part of the shock as well.
So, it is worth you inspect the shocks frequently and notice when they fail on time. This will be beneficial in order for you to avoid driving with bad shocks all the time. Perform a shock absorber replacement and call it a day. You might pay some money. But they will be definitely worth it if you want to drive a good and solid vehicle.
7. Rear End Sits High
Another visual symptom that you will notice when the shocks are bad is the situation when the rear end sits too high.
Whenever you notice a situation like this when the rear end is taller than your front end, you need a shock absorber replacement on your car. But why is this the case?
Well, this is the case because the shocks are empty on the inside. Meaning that all of the fluid that was inside has leaked out and there is no fluid inside of the shock.
Whenever there is no fluid, it means that the shocks are full of air and are doing nothing useful. The car bounces like crazy and you have a terrible driving experience. But when to replace shocks? Well, that’s what we are going to cover in the following chapter and see when you do a shock absorber replacement on your vehicle.
When To Replace Shocks
So, when to do a shock absorber replacement? Well, the recommended mileage to replace shocks is about 50,000 miles.
They can last more and you can replace them whenever they fail. But they usually start to give up at this mileage. Also, you should perform close inspections of these shock absorbers and see if they have failed. You need to perform this task often. As often as 5,000 miles.
Mainly because you never know when they will fail. A shock can last for more than 80,000 miles sometimes. And sometimes can fail at 5,000 miles or less. So, inspecting them is the key if you want to avoid ending up with blown shocks. But how to diagnose blown shock absorbers? That’s what we are going to cover next.
How To Diagnose Bad Shock Absorbers?
Now let’s cover another interesting topic before we learn more about the shock absorber replacement. And that is how to diagnose bad shock absorbers on your vehicle. How you can perform this work on your car?
Frankly, it is relatively easy to diagnose shocks on your car. The only thing that you need is to apply pressure on top of the car where you suspect that you have a blown shock. If the car goes down easily and jumps after you release the pressure, the shock is blown in 99% of the cases.
This is true because a car should not bounce like this. Good shocks should be really stiff and durable and able to withstand a ton of force applied to them.
The next thing that you can do if you are not sure if the shock absorber replacement is necessary is to inspect for leaks.
You just need to see if there is hydraulic fluid leaking from these shocks. If they have just started leaking a few thousand miles ago, there will be grease spots on them. This is a clear sign that you need to replace these shocks.
And the last symptom that will help you diagnose blown shocks is the situation when the car is not laying flat. If the rear shocks are bad, the front end will sit much lower than the rear end of the car. So, if you notice something like this and your rear end sits high in the air. Then you definitely need a shock absorber replacement. But how you can do that? Well, that’s what we are going to cover next.
Shock Absorber Replacement
Now get to business and learn more about the shock absorber replacement. How this job is done the right way on your car or truck? And what tools you will need to do so?
Well, the only tools that you will need are two same-size wrenches. This is necessary because you need to hold the bolt on one side in order so the bolt doesn’t slip. And you to be able to loosen up the bolts and remove the shock absorber.
The second thing that you will need is a new part. You will need to get an exact match shock absorber for your vehicle. This is really important for you and you want to have the right part. Also, make sure that you get a new part with a good warranty so you don’t get end up disappointed if the shock is leaking.
Next thing will require doing the job. It should not take you more than half an hour for one shock. In the video above, you can see how this work is done on a car in only 6 minutes. So, check out the shock absorber replacement and learn how it’s done. But how much it will cost you to replace this component? More on that next.
Shock Absorber Replacement Cost
Now as we covered the shock absorber replacement, let’s get into how much to replace shocks. How much can you expect to pay for this type of work?
Well, if you are looking for the shock absorber replacement cost. You can expect to pay about $150 to $250 per shock. This is only the front shock absorber replacement cost.
The rear shock absorber replacement cost is somewhat cheaper. These rear shocks are relatively cheap to replace and you can get them replaced for about $100 per side. Sometimes even less.
This cost is only for the parts alone, the labor will cost you as well. So, you can expect to pay up to $260 in labor for two shock replacements and alignment.
Facts about Struts and Shock Absorbers in Vehicles:
- Struts and shock absorbers should be replaced when they are leaking, damaged, bent, or not working properly.
- It’s recommended to replace struts or shock absorbers as preventative maintenance, when they show signs of failing or excessive wear.
- There are no mileage requirements for strut/shock replacement, but they often fail after 110-120K miles in some cars.
- Struts and shock absorbers are parts of the vehicle’s suspension and absorb shocks of the suspension to provide a smooth and stable ride.
- Struts are a shock absorber built into one unit with a coil spring and a strut mount, while shock absorbers are a separate part.
- All cars have four struts/shocks; most modern cars and SUVs have struts in the front suspension and shocks or struts in the back.
- Struts and shock absorbers don’t need any maintenance, but they often fail, especially on bad roads.
- Symptoms of a bad strut or shock absorber include bounciness, knocking when driving over bumps, and less stable and smooth ride.
- It’s recommended to replace struts or shock absorbers in pairs, but not all four need to be replaced unless they are all bad.
- The cost to replace struts can range from $600 to $850 per pair, while shock absorbers cost $280 to $420 for both, and wheel alignment is necessary in most cases.
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to shock absorber replacement. First, we learned what are shocks and how they differentiate from struts.
Then we learned all the symptoms associated with blown shocks and how to diagnose them. Lastly, we learned how you can replace a shock and at what cost is this possible.
F.A.Q To Shock Absorber Replacement
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
What Do Shocks Do On A Car
Shocks are also called dampers. They have a special role in a car and that role is to absorb all the impacts from the surface that your car drives on. They are designed to absorb all the bumps and keep the body of the car level.
How Long Does Shock Last
Shocks usually last about 50,000 miles or so. Sometimes they last much more than this and sometimes they fail too soon. It’s much about your driving habit as well as how quality shocks you install on your car.
Signs Of Bad Shocks
The tell-tell signs are the lifted rear end of the car, the bouncy ride over bumps and potholes, uneven tread wear, and squatting under acceleration. Overall these are the most common signs.
How To Tell If Shocks Are Bad
You can tell if you need a shock absorber replacement if you try to apply pressure on top of the shock. Lean your body over that wheel and apply pressure. If the rear end feels like a sponge then these shocks are due to be replaced. Also, check for leaks and if there are any, then you probably have a blown shock.
How To Test Shocks By Hand
You can test the shocks by applying a good amount of pressure on top of the side where the shock is located. Just lean your body over and see if the car dips and then rebounds fast. If it acts like a sponge and jumps whenever you remove the pressure, you know that you are dealing with bad shock absorbers.
How Much Is Shock Absorber Replacement
On average, you can do a full replacement for the rear shocks for about $400 to $500 with all the parts and labor involved. If you replace them on your own, it will be cheaper.
Are Struts And Shocks The Same Thing
No, they are not. Shocks are only shock absorbers. While the strut is a whole assembly that incorporates a shock absorber, a spring, and a housing. This is a much more complex component than your regular shock absorber.