6 Symptoms Of Bad Shock Absorbers (& Replacement Cost)

When you travel on a bumpy road, it’s the shock absorbers keeping the ride smooth. Bad shock absorbers can make your journey miserable.

Shock absorbers can last up to 50,000 miles without being used in harsh conditions. It’s vital that you get a bad shock absorber replaced at the first sign of trouble. Let’s take a quick look at the signs:

Bad shock absorbers are most noticeable by a bumpy ride and vibrations. You may also notice that your car nose-divers when you brake. If you inspect your tires, uneven tire wear may be a sign of a bad shock absorber. Fluid leaking can sometimes be seen.

This is an extensive list of possible signs and symptoms that could indicate bad shock absorbers.

Índice de Contenido
  1. Bad Shock Absorbers Symptoms
    1. 1. Vibrations
    2. 2. Nose-Diving during Braking or Swerving
    3. 3. Uneven Tire Wear
    4. 4. Longer Stopping Times
    5. 5. Cracked Bushings
    6. 6. Fluid Leaks
  2. How shock absorbers work
  3. Shock Absorber Location
  4. Shock Absorber Replacement Cost

Bad Shock Absorbers Symptoms

1. Vibrations

Drive Car E1614206004661

The shock will stop sitting properly if the valves or piston seals wear down. This allows fluid to flow beyond the seals or valves. 

The result is an unpleasant ride whenever you bump into a bump. The vibrations you feel should come from your hands as you grasp the steering wheel. 

2. Nose-Diving during Braking or Swerving

Car Nose Dive Braking

As that fluid makes it’s way uncontrolled past the piston seal or valves, you are going to suffer from other handling issues. 

Even the slightest movement or brake pedal application could cause massive movement within the cylinder. You might feel the weight increase if you make a left turn. This will require additional driver input in order to keep the car on the road.

Additionally, when braking, the car will want to go farther than what’s expected, leading to a nose-dive.

3. Uneven Tire Wear

Uneven Tire Wear

Your tires will wear out faster if you don't have the right shock. The result is an unsteady motion, with each surface flaw that the vehicle discovers. 

Normal wear will occur in the areas of the tire closest to the road, while normal wear will take place elsewhere. Uneven tire tread can cause handling problems. 

The tires can be replaced, but you will still have the same issue until the suspension is repaired. 

4. Longer Stopping Times

It will sometimes take longer for the car to brake. If you want to avoid an accident, the stopping distance can be increased up to 20%.

You may fail to pass the brake test if you've had yearly vehicle inspections.

5. Cracked Bushings

An inspection of the shock absorbers can reveal many problems. The shock absorbers have bolts at their ends. You will see rubber bushings at the attachment points.

Rubber bushings crack often when shocks fail. Rubber bushings can crack if the shock is not working properly. This causes a clicking sound when the vehicle passes over bumps or imperfections. 

6. Fluid Leaks

Fluid will seep from the shock's body towards pavement if the seals around the shaft are leaking. 

Shock performance will decrease if fluid is lost. You will notice a decrease in shock performance from fluid loss. As described previously, handling problems can be expected. 

How shock absorbers work

Shock Absorbers

Two main functions are served by shock absorbers. Shocks are used to control suspension movement and spring movement for smoother ride. The shocks also ensure the car’s tires remain in complete contract with the road. 

Considering the tire is the only part of a vehicle that touches the ground, it’s vital that the shock absorbers do their job properly. 

Shock absorbers don’t support the weight of a vehicle. Instead, shock absorbers take kinetic energy from the suspension’s movement and convert it into thermal energy or heat.

You can think of the shock absorber like an oil pump. There’s a piston that’s attached to a piston rod. It is designed to resist hydraulic fluid within the tube of pressure.

Hydraulic fluid pushes through small holes in the piston as the suspension moves. These orifices can’t allow a lot of fluid through, so the piston is slowed down. The suspension and spring movements are reduced by this action. 

Shock absorbers automatically adjust to different conditions because they are sensitive to suspension speeds. It moves faster, so shock absorbers offer more resistance. 

Shock Absorber Location

Shock Absorber

Every wheel has shock absorbers. Every wheel has its own movement, so shock absorbers must be installed in each corner.

The suspension is a system that includes the shock. The shock absorbers have a narrow, cylindrical form that is connected to the axles. You will find the springs near the hub or around them.

The shock absorbers function like a suspension part, with its own kind of shock, spring, and frame. This suspension part is meant to hold the vehicle’s weight, unlike the shocks. 

Shock Absorber Replacement Cost

The average cost to replace shock absorbers for a pair is $250 to $600, depending on what car you have and how much labor it takes. One shock absorber costs $50 to $150, with labor between $150 and $300. 

You would need all four shock absorbers replaced. This is why you'd multiply the estimates by 2. 

Some vehicles can be more expensive than others, particularly luxury brands like BMW, Lexus and Audi. Sports cars, or those with more advanced shock assemblies will have higher shock absorbers prices. 

You can save money on labor costs by doing it yourself if you're mechanically inclined. It will take you only a handful of common tools and just a couple hours to complete the job.

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