“My friend went in to a mechanic a while back for an oil change. They told her she needed new shocks and struts and she may be stranded if she didn’t have them replaced immediately. She chose not to do it and brought her car into a friend – who told her everything was fine. How do I avoid unscrupulous mechanics? How do I know when my older car truly needs new shocks and struts?”
Search the Internet today and you’re sure to find a lot of stories about people not having the best of luck with auto repair shops. Which means when its time to trust a mechanic to make sure your car is in top working order, it can be difficult to determine who to trust – and who to steer clear of.
An oil change is one thing, but what happens when you think you may need a larger problem fixed, such as shocks and struts?
Shocks and struts aren’t like some car parts that need to be replaced on a regular basis or at a specific mileage. Some original shocks may need replacing after 30,000 to 40,000 miles; struts often last to 50,000, 60,000 or even longer.
One way to evaluate your need for new shocks and struts is to consider how your car handles on a daily basis. Does it bounce excessively when you hit a bump or drive down a bumpy road? Does the nose of your car dip down when breaking? Does the body of your vehicle roll or sway when cornering or driving in crosswinds? Does your suspension bottom out when backing out of driveway with a car full of passengers?
The bounce test is one of the easiest ways to tell if your car needs to shocks and struts. But it isn’t the only way.
In some cases your shocks may start to leak – you can easily see oil or wetness on the outside of the shock or strut.
In some cases your original equipment may not be well suited for the requirements you are placing on it. Do you pull a boat or camper on a regular basis? Are you in construction, hauling on a daily basis? Upgrading and installing stronger, special shocks and struts can give you better performance overall.
Worn out shocks and struts won’t necessarily create a driving hazard, but there are studies that show they can increase the distance needed for stopping a vehicle, or increase skidding on wet surfaces. And they most definitely will improve the overall quality of your ride.
Shocks and struts are generally replaced in pairs – though it isn’t always necessary if only one shock or strut is leaking, or if they have relatively low mileage. While shocks can be a fairly easy replacement project, struts are more difficult. They require a fair amount of suspension disassembly, and most wheels need realigning after replacement.
Have any questions? Remember, its always better to check early and face a potential problem head on. The quicker you get the problem solved, the less damage and potential loss of use of your car you’ll experience.
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