Recently we had a customer come into our shop here at contact-us with a strange issue. They complained that every time they put their foot on the brake, it sounded like marbles were rolling from the back to the front of the car. It was an odd problem, but it’s not uncommon to hear such noises when your struts or shocks are going bad.
See, your struts and shocks are part of your suspension system, and without these vital parts, your vehicle won’t ride smoothly and can’t distribute the weight properly. People describe the noises in various ways, but it all stems from the same problem. Do you know the warning signs of bad struts?
While this customer heard “marbles” rolling around, we’ve had others complain of squeaking noises when they turn sharply, go over a bump, or put on the brakes. While we put the vehicle on a rack and look at the suspension system, you can do a little test at home. Put your hand on the bumper and give the automobile a little push.
Does the car bounce back fast, or does it seem controlled and doesn’t have much give? If your vehicle bounces and even makes a squeaking noise, it’s a sure sign you have issues with your suspension system. You must keep this vital part of your vehicle in top shape, as comfort isn’t the only concern.
The Importance of a Good Suspension System
Most people notice a change in their vehicle when they go over a bump. When you encounter a speed bump or pothole in the road, does it feel like riding on a bucking bronco? You may also hear that classic squeaking when you go over anything, including a smooth roadway.
Your suspension system keeps your automobile from bouncing or swaying as you drive. Your car weighs a lot and must be balanced and evenly distributed. No matter what terrain you’re traveling on, the shocks and struts give you a better ride. If you let these parts go too long without repair, they can break, making the vehicle undrivable.
Understanding the Difference Between Shocks and Struts
You’re not alone if you don’t know the difference between a shock and a strut. These terms are often used interchangeably because people don’t know the significant differences between the two. The shocks help the coil springs in your suspension system absorb the impact you feel on the highways.
The shock springs into action when you hit a bump in the road. If you didn’t have this vital component, your car would bounce, and the tires would fail to keep in contact with the asphalt. You may have encountered a vehicle that bounced down the road, and you will now know poor shocks likely caused it.
Struts, on the other hand, are one unit that has both the power to absorb the shock and has coils and springs in them. They provide your automobile with structural support when it encounters bumps. A standard suspension system needs ball joints and control arms to keep things moving smoothly, but the strut replaces these parts as it’s a unit that does multiple functions.
Signs Your Suspension System’s in Trouble
First, you need to know if your car has shocks or struts, and you can find that in the owner’s manual by bringing your vehicle to your local mechanic or by looking it up online. Once you identify what your vehicle needs, you need to monitor the timing for replacement.
You can count on replacing these parts in your suspension system every 50,000-100,000 miles, depending on the types of roads you drive. Someone who lives on a gravel road and goes over many rough roads might have to replace them more than someone who only drives freeways and through urban areas.
Thankfully, unlike a fuel pump or timing chain, these parts don’t just decide to give up one day. They deteriorate over a period of time, and typically they provide some warning signs that they’re worn out. The four indications that you’re having issues with your shocks or structs include the following:
*You feel like you’re losing control of the vehicle when you hit a bump.
*You hear squeaking and other noises when going over bumps.
*The vehicle doesn’t ride as smoothly as it did, and you feel beat up driving around.
*There’s fluid on the ground that’s not oil or antifreeze. It’s likely hydraulic fluid.
*Your tires have uneven wearing and may display cupping and dips, and they also don’t hold to the road.
*The vehicle sways when you hit a bump or go around a sharp turn. This is a classic sign of poor weight distribution in your suspension system.
Replacing Shocks & Struts
While you can do a few things in your car to save money, replacing shocks and struts is a big job. It takes a qualified technician to fix them and return the vehicle to proper alignment. It’s advisable to have this system checked periodically for signs of wear.
You need to replace both if you have a bad strut on the front axle. Replacing only one will ruin your tires and cause uneven wear. Are your struts or shocks not giving you the smooth ride you need? Has it been a while since you’ve had them replaced or inspected? Call us today to see how we can help.