Shocks and struts, along with weight and gravity are the reasons your wheels remain on the ground. Every time you hit a pothole or a bump in the road, the conditions change. The status quo also alters when you brake and/or turn. Shocks and struts are the elements that keep your car stable whenever you perform one of these actions. Here are some shocks and struts basics to consider for safe motoring, offered by leading suspension components manufacturer KYB.

What are the functions of shocks and struts?

They prevent the tires from bouncing, which results in a loss of road contact, as well as the vehicle body weight from shifting and rolling, which results in a loss of vehicle control and handling. Therefore, their primary function is to resist both tire and vehicle body motion. When the shocks and struts are functioning properly, the vehicle maintains traction on the road and has the best stability in all driving conditions – stopping, turning, swerving, and going over bumps and potholes.

How do shocks accomplish this?

A shock or a strut works on the same principle, but they are mounted in different ways. Each of the four tires is connected to the suspension and vehicle body or frame via a shock or strut. Shocks and struts are hydraulic cylinders that dampen motion by limiting fluid flow through a series of internal valves. The shock valving slows and stabilizes the movements of the wheel and body as they move up and down.

Shocks and struts: 9 things to watch to keep you safe

What does “vehicle stability” mean?

Vehicle stability entails being able to stop, turn, and swerve at precisely the right time and with the right measure needed. Your shocks respond to every wheel and body movement, jolt, and turn.
The shock absorber controls the spring’s movement and is the last critical connection in providing a smooth and, more significantly, safe ride. Even with new tires and brakes, vehicle safety is jeopardized due to decreased wheel contact with the road unless all shock absorbers are in optimum operating condition.

The car can absorb bumps with springs but no shock absorbers, but the undampened suspension causes the vehicle to bounce and causes the tires to leave the road.

The car’s springs and shock absorbers not only absorb bumps, but the shock absorbers also dampen the springs and keep the vehicle from bouncing.

More wear means less control.

As your shocks wear down, you will notice two main drawbacks. First, as the shock’s capacity to withstand wheel and body movement deteriorates, controlling your car gets more difficult. As braking distances become longer, the driver must adjust for circumstances such as body roll and nose-diving. The second factor is increased wear on all other vehicle components.

Because the shocks enable greater suspension movement as they wear, every connected element is subjected to more impacts, and wear to those components happens more rapidly. Suspension springs, support arms, bushings, joints, and wheel alignment are all negatively affected. This means a shorter car life, lower vehicle enjoyment, and higher maintenance costs.

The reason for diminished control

Shocks that are worn out enable more dramatic up and down tire movement. The available tread contact on the pavement diminishes as the tire bounces up. Traction loss occurs when the tire does not hold the road effectively. Cornering, accelerating, and halting may all be difficult. When you add in rainy or slick weather, you can understand how much difficulty the motorist will have.

The reason for increased wear

Each connected component suffers from increased impact and movement, which causes faster degradation or wear. One worn component leads to the deterioration of another, which leads to the deterioration of yet another… and so on.

Ride control conditions to look out for

Braking Distance
The car can’t stop as effectively as it can when shocks/struts wear down and the tire-to-road contact becomes less effective since the tires can’t produce the proper amount of grip.

Shocks and struts: 9 things to watch to keep you safe

Nose Dive
The tires begin to halt when you use the brakes, but the vehicle’s inertia attempts to keep it moving ahead. As a consequence, the front end is pushed down while the rear end is pushed up. This imbalance puts strain on the front brakes and decreases the effectiveness of the rear brakes. As a result, controlling and driving the car becomes more difficult.

Shocks and struts: 9 things to watch to keep you safe

Body Roll
The vehicle’s body weight attempts to rise and roll toward the outside of the turn while cornering. The only method to minimize the impact is to control the weight shift or slow down the vehicle speed.

Shocks and struts: 9 things to watch to keep you safe

Ride Harshness
Small bumps and tire movements are picked up by the whole vehicle. The journey may be bumpy, unpleasant, and loud. This sudden movement has an impact on both the driver’s comfort and the tire’s performance. As a consequence, traction is lost, and vehicle pleasure suffers as a result.

Shocks and struts: 9 things to watch to keep you safe

Acceleration Squat
The front end rises and the rear end falls during early acceleration, similar to when exiting a standstill. The rebound damping in the shock controls the front end rise. This causes traction loss and impairs steering control in front-wheel-drive vehicles.

Shocks and struts: 9 things to watch to keep you safe

Loss of Traction
This may happen while you’re braking, accelerating, or turning. Loss of control occurs when the tires are unable to grasp the road for any reason: When the tires bounce when the vehicle’s inertia lifts or pushes the tires; when the tire tread is worn; when the tires are underinflated; or when the shocks and struts don’t regulate tire and body motions.

Shocks and struts: 9 things to watch to keep you safe

It’s natural to react to a bump. The journey must be halted by a cushion or bumper stop if the tire is allowed to respond and rise upward too forcefully. This indicates that the car is being driven too aggressively or is being used beyond its usual capabilities, such as being overloaded. It may also indicate that the shocks have worn out and are no longer able to properly withstand wheel movement.

Shocks and struts: 9 things to watch to keep you safe

Wind gusts, road conditions, and steering motions may cause excessive left to right or sideways movements. On one side, the shock or strut controls compression (or downward) movement, whereas, on the other side, it controls rebound (or upward) movement. It is necessary to make steering adjustments, which may become harder if the situation worsens.

Shocks and struts: 9 things to watch to keep you safe

Cupping of the tires
A regular movement occurs and an equally spaced wear pattern starts when the tire is allowed to travel up and down excessively. In contrast to tire balancing situations, the frequency of wear patterns is higher due to shorter tire motions that are not reduced by worn shocks or struts. Tire noise, traction loss, and, of course, tire degradation occur as the situation develops.

Shocks and struts: 9 things to watch to keep you safe