Arrive Alive

Shock Absorbers and Safety on the Road

Shock Absorbers and Safety on the Road

 

The Relationship between Shock Absorbers & Tyre Safety

In the many articles regarding tyres and their impact on road safety, it is repeatedly mentioned that tyres are the only physical contact between a vehicle and the road surface. It is this contact, and the grip the tyre provides which allows the vehicle to start, stop and change direction.

In other words, it is the contact with the road surface which gives us control over our vehicles. It is therefore imperative that this contact is maintained under any and all conditions. But, a road surface isn’t smooth and the wheels of a vehicle are inclined to bounce over the bumps. The suspension of a vehicle in its simplest form is there to give ride comfort.  The springs which provide the comfort actually aid the bounce though. In order to contain the bounce and maintain contact the suspension is fitted with components called shock absorbers, or in some countries, dampers.

Shock absorbers are filled with oil, which hydraulically dampens the road shock and prevents the wheels bouncing. Due to this action tyre to road contact is maintained over all bumps and undulations. This in turn allows control of the vehicle to be maintained.

Two main concerns can affect the performance of shock absorbers; one is leaking through damage or age, and the other is overheating through rough conditions, overloading or many other causes. Over-heating causes the oil to lose its viscosity i.e. to thin out. Air bubbles then form and mix with the oil. This severely detracts from the shock absorbers ability to perform, and bouncing starts occurring. One often hears people talking about “gas shock absorbers”.

These are more sophisticated items with gas used to cool the oil. They can take far more punishment, and last far longer, but contrary to popular belief provide the same function as a conventional shock absorber rather than a softer ride or better comfort. Remember the springs provide the comfort and the shock absorber controls the spring’s action.

Leaking shock absorbers lose oil and this destroys their ability to control road shock and the resulting wheel bounce..

Put very simply, the shock absorber keeps the tyre in contact with the road surface under all conditions, and between the two, your safety is maintained.

Worn or damaged shock absorbers also cause tyre wear. The bouncing of the tyres allows flat spotting and other wear patterns to develop on the tyre tread. This causes another safety concern in that the grip of a tyre is reliant on the integrity of the foot-print i.e. the contact patch. If irregular wear has set in the contact patch will loose its intended shape and grip will be reduced.

So tyres and shock absorbers are partners in maintaining your safety. Shock absorbers look after the tyres by keeping them on the ground, and the tyres hold your lives in their grip.  [Information from Bridgestone]

 

Dangers of Worn Shock Absorbers

Shock absorbers are as safety-critical as airbags, brakes and the tread on a car’s tyres.  But because the driver cannot see that their shocks are worn, it is a case of out of site out of mind.

In South Africa it is estimated that 50% of cars older than five years on the road have worn shock absorbers, but drivers don’t know this because they gradually adjust their driving to compensate for the extra roll or bounce.


“A worn shock will reduce the driver’s ability to control the vehicle. In an emergency, there could be an accident that otherwise could have been avoided,” says Sean Staley, Gabriel brand manager at Control Instruments. 

Staley says the average age of vehicles in South Africa is more than 12 years, and shocks become less effective after about three years. 

 “Worn shocks wont keep your wheels glued to the road, no matter how new your tyres are.”

“A worn shock absorber will cause the tyre to bounce creating worn or bald spots,” says Staley.   

“In an emergency situation, applying brakes can make the tyre to loose contact with the road, increasing the chance of an accident.”

Braking on wet roads, even with good tyres, will cause tyres to bounce and loose grip. The vehicle will skid more easily in the wet. In strong cross winds, there is less control when cornering and the efficiency of anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and  the vehicle’s electronic stability control (ESP) capabilities are reduced.  

Worn shocks will also cause suspension wear.  Excessive spring movement on the vehicle will make the vehicle more difficult to handle.

And during the upcoming festive season, a tired driver is a dangerous driver. Overall, worn shocks will require that the driver concentrate more on keeping the car on the road.

 

When is the right time to replace your shock absorbers?

It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. We have come across the perfect illustration of when it would be important to have your shocks checked and most probably replaced.

We would like to share these images depicting signs of worn shocks:

  

  

  

  

We would like to urge all vehicle owners and drivers to be attentive to those aspects of vehicle maintenance that could impact on their safety on the road.

Be alert to these dangers and have your shock absorbers checked regularly!!

Also View:

 

Loading...

Search Road Safety Articles

Latest Pages

Partnership Opportunities

Partnership Opportunities

Herewith some extra info on the Arrive Alive initiative and how the Partnering works: Also, view the Infographic for 2019 The website and our road safety blogs are not funded by the Department of Transport but made possible through partnerships with the private sector. The website received

Read More

Truck Hijackings, Crime and Road Safety

Truck Hijackings, Crime and Road Safety

Introduction: Truck Hijackings: Investigation and Analysis In recent years we have become aware of an increase in road-related crimes. Not only have we reported on the hijackings, car theft and incidents of smash-and-grab, but have also seen the much more organized crime of truck hijacking [truck

Read More

Road Safety and the Child Pedestrian

Road Safety and the Child Pedestrian

Introduction During recent years the road fatalities among pedestrians in South Africa have remained at 35-40% of the total road fatalities. Many socioeconomic factors are contributing to the horrific fatality rate among our pedestrians. To change where we live and whether we have adult supervision

Read More

Preventing Crashes into Pedestrians

Preventing Crashes into Pedestrians

Many road fatalities are caused by accidents wherein pedestrians are involved. Many of these fatalities may be prevented through the application of some basic principles. The following safety hints should be applied: Be aware that many informal settlements are situated alongside main roads and

Read More

Scholar Patrol and Road Safety

Scholar Patrol and Road Safety

Background Info to Scholar Patrol / School Patrol Scholar Patrol is an important part of road safety education and essential to enhancing the safety of our scholars at their schools. Not only does it regulate traffic, improve speed calming and facilitate safe crossing of the road but also instills

Read More

Safety of Pedestrians

Safety of Pedestrians

Walking in Traffic The safety of pedestrians is one of the major concerns for the transport and traffic authorities in South Africa. There are at present several initiatives to enhance pedestrian safety. Unfortunately the past development of roads, informal settlements and general levels of intoxication

Read More

Load More Pages

Partners

View All