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Shock absorbers have been around since the early 1900s. Over the years they have functioned in several different forms. One of the earliest shock absorbers used a simple two-arm and friction disc setup. The latest shock absorbers use hydraulic pistons.

  • Shock absorbers are a very important part of the vehicle and arguably take the biggest beating in terms of wear and tear over time. They always work with the entire suspension system in your vehicle and it is a wise decision to keep an eye on them throughout the driving life of your vehicle.
  • We want to help you better understand the purpose and role of shock absorbers. Read on for a more in-depth look at this complex vehicle component.

What are Shock absorbers?

  • In short, they are components in a vehicle’s suspension that dampen and limit the upward and downward movement of the springs in the suspension. Kinetic energy is an important factor here, as the goal is to convert excessive movement from upward and downward motion (kinetic energy) into other forms of energy (in this case heat energy).
  • The dampening effect is achieved by the hydraulic fluid contained in the housing itself. The fluid works by providing the natural resistance and drag required to make the absorber intentionally move more “fluidly” than the spring located on top of it. The effect is that a controlled series of movements results in controlling the ride quality of the vehicle to a level that is comfortable for both driver and passenger.
  • The shock absorber always works in conjunction with the strut, which is another suspension component that includes its own independent shock absorber, springs, and a solid frame designed to support the weight of the vehicle.

The two main characteristics of shock absorbers

  1. To help keep the tires firmly planted on the ground during bumpy journeys.
  2. To make passengers more comfortable.

Shock absorber mounting positions

  • It makes sense that there is a shock absorber in every corner of the vehicle. This is because every wheel on the vehicle experiences movement at the same time. In most cases, these movements are different for each wheel.
  • The shock absorber works as a unit in a multi-unit system called the vehicle suspension. The shock absorbers are slender and cylindrical in shape and are connected to the two axles of the vehicle. Springs then surround each of them, and finally, the wheels are connected to them by means of hubs.

The difference between shock absorbers and Struts

  1. The struts are the structural part of the suspension system, and the shock absorber is not. The shock absorber is only a link between the suspension system and the car body.
  2. The struts use an integrated spiral spring to support the weight of the vehicle. The hydraulic piston is located in the spiral spring. Because of this, the struts are larger and heavier than shock absorbers. The shock absorber does not support any weight.
  3. It is difficult to replace the support rod. To replace the rod, you have to remove the entire branches and spring components, disassemble it, put the old spring on the new branch rod, and then reinstall it into the suspension system. Special tools are required to dismantle the spring.
  4. The characteristics of the shock absorber are that the design is simpler and easier to replace. Disassembling and replacement of shock absorbers usually only need removing two to three bolts. Spring does not need to be demolished.

Some vehicles use branches to control the front wheels, while the shock absorber controls the rear wheels. Therefore, your vehicle may have shock absorbers and struts at the same time.

Types of shock absorbers?
  • All shock absorbers have one main function: to correctly control the vertical movement of the vehicle on the road. Because each manufacturer has different requirements for building their vehicles, shock absorbers can operate in different ways.
  • Conventional telescopic dampers have a simple structure and can be found on both front and rear suspension systems. The general rule of thumb with these is to replace them when they are worn rather than restored.
  • Braced shock absorbers replace part of the suspension system and must be more robustly built to cope with greater road forces. This absorber type is mainly used in medium sized passenger cars and can be sealed or can be repaired. Sealed units are typically found in the suspension systems of luxury cars, while repairable units known as McPherson Struts have replaceable struts.
  • The Spring Seat Shock combines the qualities of a telescope and a braced shock absorber. Spring seat shocks are suspension units and damping devices in a single system. Unlike strut bars, these are not subject to high side loads or weight. In addition, these shocks are also fully sealed and unrestored.
What are the effects if a shock absorber fails?
  • Because shock absorbers are constantly working with the springs and struts in the suspension system, they fail when they are unable to take road shock and convert the energy into heat or allow it to be redistributed.
  • The shock absorber is a component that is often overlooked unless it fails, and when it does, it is very obvious. The symptoms when a shock absorber fails to fall into three categories; visual cues, sound, and the quality of the vehicle’s ride. A vehicle that is driving a little lower than normal can mean that there is a problem with the shock absorber.
  • In addition, a lot of clunking and thumping can be heard when the vehicle is driven over bumps and undulating roads.
Common signs of shock absorber failure include.
  • Extended stopping times.
  • Steering wheel vibration after hitting bumps.
  • Knocking or creaking noises when the vehicle is driven over bumps.
  • Increased body leans when cornering.
  • Sinking of the front end when braking hard.
  • Uneven tire wear.
  • Fluid runs down the side of the shock absorber.
  • The vehicle does not stabilize as quickly as it used to after hitting bumps.
  • The vehicle’s suspension “bottoms out” when hitting bumps.
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