How to Test Shocks

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Chassis DIY
Test Shocks And Keep Your Car Safe!

Does your car feel like it’s traveling through an earthquake, when you are simply driving down a gravel driveway? Does it feel like you have a fantastic surround sound system, as the imaginary sub-woofer bounces you down the highway? These symptoms may lead you to a puzzling question: is it time to change my vehicle’s shocks? That question is an excellent one, and can be easily answered by testing them. Take a look at the following steps to checking the efficiency of your currently installed shocks.

  • Although driving your car regularly allows you to see a general need for shocks, doing a physical test yourself can confirm your suspicions. The first way to test your shocks, is by driving your vehicles in an empty parking lot or other paved area. After making sure that there is nothing in front of you, hit the gas. After a brief moment hit the brakes, hard. Try to feel what the car is doing. If the back seems to continue bounce after slamming the brakes, it may mean you need to change the rear shocks. If the front actually tilts in when you slam the brakes, it could mean your front shocks need to be replaced. Either side-effect is an excellent way of seeing which shocks are needing to be cared for.
  • Another way of seeing if your shocks are needing to be replaced is by making the car bounce. To do that, you will actually need to push a corner of the car down, with your own hands, and then release the corner. If the car bounces more than a couple times, than its definitely time to change the shocks.
  • The third way you can test your shocks for efficiency and wear, is by doing it the old-fashioned way, a visual inspection. When you look at the shocks, check for any dents, any bending, or oil leakage. These signs confirm that it is time to change them. Also, if you look at your tires and see some bald spots, then it probably means your shocks are giving too much bounce.

Once you have figured out whether or not you need to replace your shocks, it’s now time to put the work in. If your shocks are ok but you still have those crazy symptoms while driving, then make sure to figure out what the other issue could be. If your shocks are needing to be replaced, then follow the next steps in seeing what type of shocks your car has, and what you will need to replace them.

  • If your car has McPherson struts or coil-over shocks, then replacing them involves extreme care and special tools. The reason for this is that the struts and coil-overs are under pressure must be compressed with specific tools, in order to remove and replace them. Additionally, after you have replaced the struts or coil-overs, you will also need to get an alignment on your vehicle as well. The special care that goes into replacing struts and coil-overs inspires most to take their vehicle to a professional.
  • If your vehicle has simple shock absorbers, then replacing them is a far easier and safer DIY task. If you have the proper safety equipment, such as a jack and jack stands, and your basic DIY car repair tools, then replacing shock absorbers can be a quick maintenance project. If you have a truck, most likely everything underneath is easy to get to and see, so shock absorbers could take just 20 minutes to replace. If, however, you have a smaller passenger car that has shock absorbers, you may need to go in the cabin and remove seats to get to the shocks.

Your shocks are what keep you tied to the road and ensure you have full control of your vehicle at all times. This means you must keep an eye on when they need to be replaced, and go through the necessary testing to figuring that out. Once you know it’s time to replace them, don’t procrastinate in getting the work done. Keeping your shocks efficient is an important step in making sure you, your passengers, and everyone around you are safe from the hazardous bounce of an untamed shock.

Photo credit: Yogendra174 via Foter.com / CC BY

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