Have you ever noticed that your vehicle bounces wildly whenever you drive over a bump in the road? If the bumpy ride persists, there’s a big chance that you have some problem with the shock absorbers of your truck.
It is important to check the condition of these suspension parts. When your truck shocks or struts start to show excessive wear and tear, you will find it hard to control your vehicle safely. These issues should be checked out and resolved immediately.
Signs that you need new shocks or struts
You may have noticed these changes in your vehicle and it can be the signs that you need a new set of shocks or struts.
- Dipping front end or droopy rear end
If you hit the brakes a bit harder than usual, have you spotted that the front end of your vehicle dips down? You may also observe it when you go over a speed bump. As for the droopy bottom, you will notice that the rear wheel hits a dip at the curb when you back out of the driveway. Check if the rear of the vehicle bottoms out or if it scrapes the pavement. These are some signs that the shocks have met the end of their use.
- Bouncy Ride
This is the most common sign and it’s easy to miss because some people become accustomed to how their vehicle rides over time. Good shocks and struts should effectively dampen the amount of suspension movement. If you experience bumpiness or shakiness while driving, then it’s time for new ones.
Get a flashlight and take a look at your truck’s suspension. If you see brown fluid leaking down onto the bottom part of the shock or strut, a good chance that it can be the leak you’re looking for. Make sure that the leak should come straight down. It may be another problem if it does not have a splash of fluid on one side only. You can also bring your car or truck to a mechanic. They will use a hoist to lift the vehicle and inspect the underbody condition.
- Loss of Control
When you take a turn or hit a pothole, is it because you just didn’t keep your eyes on the road or you feel the vehicle hard to steer and become unstable? If you say yes to the latter, chances are, your struts are bad and need replacement.
You can see the vehicle sway from side to side and bounce very easily when the shocks or struts are extremely worn out. Bad shock absorbers also cause steering problems. You may notice that the steering wheel will often become stiff and hard to turn. Also, there will be unusual noises when turning the wheel.
- Vibrations and premature tire wear
While a vibration felt in the steering wheel is sometimes due to unbalanced wheels, it can also be a sign of worn-out struts. Your tires can help in determining the condition of your front struts.
You can check the tires and look for round cup marks that are bald which is called “cupping.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen as often with rear shocks, but if you have never changed your struts, this is a sign that they are worn out.
Shock absorbers cannot be used to replace the struts, while the struts cannot be used to replace the shocks. The shocks and struts are different parts but both serve a similar function. They are an essential part of your vehicle’s suspension system. Both of them dampens the movement of the spring and stop the oscillation and bounce.
Truck shocks are designed to be slightly stiffer than struts and they keep the vehicle from bouncing. They work with the ancillary suspension components to absorb the shock from the road. They also stop the wobble that can be damaging to the underside of your vehicle.
Struts, on the other hand, are different because it is considered a structural part of the suspension system. They are mounted to the chassis of the vehicle and serve as a pivot point for the steering system of the vehicle. They also greatly affect the alignment angles such as the camber and caster which are usually adjusted right on the strut itself.
Struts are typically more expensive than shocks. The big difference between the two is that shock absorbers give better handling, while the struts are smaller and often used in vehicles with compressed suspension travel.
If these parts are in pristine condition, the handling and steering of the vehicle are smoother and do not feel stiff. The ride will also be comfortable and your truck wheels will feel properly aligned.
Type of shock absorbers
Shock absorbers help in keeping the springing movement of the vehicle to a minimum. Here are the three main types:
- Mono-tube – This is the most common type of shock, also known as “gas shock absorber.” It is made from a steel tube with a piston and rod installed inside. As you drive your vehicle over a bump, the piston pushes upward and it is compressed slowly by gas for a smoother transition.
- Dual Shock – This type features two vertical tubes that are filled with hydraulic fluid. As it is compressed, the fluid is transferred to the secondary tube. Hence, where they get the name dual, or also known as “twin-tube shock.”
- Coil-Over – This type is made with a spring coiled around the shock and works as a single element instead of two separate mechanisms. The spring coil sits directly over the shock. It offers better stability on the track and can be paired with lowered springs. Coilover shocks are done to be stiffer to provide stability and increase performance. There are also types of coil overs such as:
- Coilover sleeves – It is more advanced compared to lowering springs because the height can be adjusted. This can be fitted on stock shocks.
- Non-shock adjustable coilover – Usually comes pre-assembled, the height value of this coilover can be adjusted, while the elements such as the shock rebound and stiffness are at a fixated value.
- Shock adjustable coilover – This is a premium type of coilover. It is created with adjustable and comes with camber kits. You don’t need to acquire a separate camber kit when mounting it to the suspension.
Make sure to check the condition of your vehicle regularly. Thoroughly inspect if the shocks or struts are already worn out and should be replaced as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
If you want to check it by yourself, see if the vehicle continues to oscillate when you push or stand on the bumper then hop off. If it bounces up and down a few times after you put some weight, the shock or strut on that corner may need to go. Going to a mechanic to get your vehicle checked is also one of the best solutions. They will raise the vehicle and look for any signs of oil leaking out of the shock or strut.
When it’s time to replace your struts or shocks, remember to replace them in pairs on the same axle—two fronts or two rears. A lot of people often get confused as to which they need since the term is used interchangeably. To add to the confusion, there are some vehicles with struts on the front axle and shocks on the rear.
Better to check your vehicle’s manual or seek the help of a mechanic to ensure that you get the right shocks or struts for your vehicle. A professional can also help to ensure the tires, steering, and other suspension parts are aligned. Poorly installed shocks or struts can cause bigger damage to the suspension of your truck.
Time for new shocks or struts
Whether you have truck shocks or struts, like any other moving part, they are all designed to wear out over time. These parts can last anywhere from 30,000 to 75,000 miles.
When it’s the time that your vehicle needs shocks or strut replacement, you can opt for OEM (original equipment manufacturer) replacement parts or aftermarket products such as Bilstein shocks. Check out an array of aftermarket shocks and struts from 4WheelOnline.
Just make sure that if your vehicle has shock absorbers, you need to replace them with the same type of component, and it is the same when it comes to struts.