6 Simple Ways to Take Care of Your Car's Shocks
Your car’s suspension system is composed of multiple parts, which include the coil springs, control arms, and sway bar. The tires are also important suspension components. Other crucial elements include the shock absorbers, whose primary function is to control the movement of the springs. Often called shocks in colloquial terms, they convert the suspension system’s movement from kinetic energy into thermal energy; this heat is then dissipated by the hydraulic fluid. As a result, your driving experience becomes much smoother and more comfortable.
Aside from ride quality, shock absorbers can also help improve gas mileage. They also make it easier for you to handle your vehicle, especially since they help keep the tires in contact with the road. This contributes to additional stability.
In short, you need to ensure that your car’s shocks are in good shape so that your drives will be efficient, safe, and comfortable. Here are some shock absorber care tips to keep in mind:
Keep the Tires Properly Inflated
As previously mentioned, your car’s tires are part of the suspension. This means that if they’re not properly inflated, they can affect the performance of the entire system. Over- or under-inflation can also cause premature wear and tear not only of the tires themselves but also other parts of the suspension.
Fortunately, it’s pretty straightforward to keep your car’s tires properly inflated. Just make sure to check the tire pressure once a month and inflate or deflate as needed. Invest in a tire pressure gauge, as well as a portable inflator so you can DIY these procedures. It’s also important to know the recommended psi of your car’s tires; this is indicated in the owner’s manual as well as on a sticker on the inside of the driver’s side door.
Clean the Shocks Regularly
With clean shocks, you can more easily spot any leaks and thus replace them on time. More importantly, keeping the shock absorbers clean can help minimise the risk of leaks in the first place by maintaining the integrity of the seals.
You can use rubber-safe liquid soap or a traffic film remover to clean your car’s shock absorbers. You can also use a pressure washer, although you need to be extra careful not to aim at the seals so you don’t accidentally force water inside the cylinder. For built-up debris, use a soft brush. Once you’re done cleaning, simply dry with a microfiber towel or a can of compressed air.
Check for Leaks
Driving around with leaking shocking absorbers is a bad idea. For one, the ride will be extremely uncomfortable. Worse, leaking shocks can also make your vehicle swerve unintentionally or lurch forward when you brake. The problem is that shock oil is mostly clear, with just a tiny hint of yellow, so you won’t immediately notice it if it’s leaking. The best thing to do is feel around the shock; if it feels oily or greasy, check for a leak immediately.
Sometimes, leaking shocks can still be repaired. If not, you’re going to have to replace it completely. Note that when you replace shocks, you need to replace them in pairs or in fours. It’s not a good idea to replace shocks one at a time because this can affect the damping performance and your overall ride comfort.
Perform “Bounce Tests” Once Year
To estimate the health of your shock absorbers, you can do what’s called a bounce test. You can do this by simply pushing down on each corner of your car while it’s parked on a flat surface. If your car bounces more than once or twice, this means that the springs are supporting most of the load and the shocks are in bad shape.
Minimize Exposure to Water and Other Corrosive Elements
As much as possible, avoid exposing your car’s underchassis to water, road salt, mud, and other things that can cause corrosion. Obviously, there are times when this is unavoidable; for other circumstances, however, make every effort to avoid such circumstances. If your car does get exposed to these elements, make sure to clean it as soon as possible.
Last but certainly not least, the simplest and most straightforward way to take care of your car’s shock absorbers is to drive carefully. When you’re approaching a pothole, try to avoid it if there’s enough space and if it’s safe to do so. If not, then drive over it slowly. When you’re driving on a rough road, slow down to minimise vibrations; better yet, find another route you can take.
When you minimise the strain that your car goes under, you can keep not just the suspension system but also your entire vehicle in good shape for years to come.
With proper care and good driving habits, your shock absorbers can actually last for more than 80,000 kilometres. This translates not just to a lot of savings, but also peace of mind knowing that your car is as safe and comfortable to drive as it can possibly be.