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Shocks, Struts & Mounts
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The Unsung Heroes of Your Suspension System
You can attribute that silky smooth driving feel to your vehicle's well-functioning suspension system, specifically its shock and struts. These critical components stabilize your vehicle and improve handling, acceleration and brake control, especially on uneven or wet terrain. By absorbing the 'shock' of sudden bumps, turns and quick stops, your vehicle can glide along the road and maintain proper tire-to-road contact.
The Difference Between Car Shocks and Struts
It's common to hear 'struts' and 'shocks' used interchangeably, but they aren't the same. A shock is an individual part of the overall strut assembly and is comprised of a piston, tube and hydraulic fluid. Its purpose is to stabilize the springs and suspension of your vehicle as you drive over bumpy roads with potholes, speedbumps or road debris. Struts are the structural part of your vehicle's suspension system that combine two main parts to form an assembly: a coil spring and the shock absorber. The spring helps support your vehicle's weight and soak up some of that sudden motion in conjunction with your shocks.
One of the smaller but mightier suspension parts is the strut mount: a rubber-like component sandwiched between your vehicle and the strut. Not only does it act as a connector, but it also helps to insulate the noise and vibrations coming from your tires. A strut mount is also a pivot point for the vehicle's steering system, so alignment is necessary whenever replacing a strut assembly. Sometimes issues related to your vehicle's shocks, struts and mounts are confused with wheel alignment issues.
Is It Time for Shocks and Struts Replacement?
Car shocks, struts and strut mounts aren't easy to inspect because they are tucked away behind all four of your tires, so it's good to have the ability to identify when they begin to fail. After years of bouncing over uneven terrain, hauling heavy loads or driving through cold weather and road salt, you may start to feel some deterioration. While you should get anywhere between 50,000 and 100,000 miles out of them, it's important to inspect your suspension system for a possible shocks and struts replacement if you feel any of the following:
- Hard braking results in front or rear 'dips' or 'squats'
- Excessive leaking or wetness of the shock/strut
- Tipping or leaning to one side when turning
- Unstable speeds or excessive bounciness
- Uneven tire wear
If you're familiar with doing your own vehicle maintenance, then replacing worn shocks or struts is manageable. However, it's critical that these components are replaced properly so that you can effectively steer and handle your high-speed vehicle
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