Dangers of Worn Shock Absorbers
When last did you check them? Do you even know where they are on your vehicle and what they actually do? Don't feel bad, very few people know much about shock absorbers or dampers as they should be called as they dampen out the excessive spring movement. Without shocks, you would not be able to keep your car on the road and would spend a great deal of time pacifying carsick passengers.
A shock absorber's main function is to prevent excessive spring movement and in so doing keep the car's tyres in contact with the road enabling you to keep control of it. Because of this, it is a safety-critical item, but most people are not aware that it is.
Because shocks are generally unseen items and they wear down so slowly that drivers grow accustomed to the ride and amend their style of driving to compensate for it, shocks are not replaced when they should be and 1 in 4 cars on our roads are driven with worn shocks! Not only are worn shocks life-threatening, but they can also cause costly repairs and maintenance on your vehicles.
If you are running a vehicle that is doing fairly high mileage, not replacing worn shocks will cost you a lot more money by having to replace worn tyres that have only lasted 25 000km, or mountings, tie-rod ends and ball joints that have all been damaged by the excessive spring movement.
- Poor Road Holding: Worn shocks are unable to keep the tyre in contact with the road or even out excessive spring movement and the car becomes more difficult to control on the road and a danger to the driver, passenger and other road users.
- Worn Tyres: With the worn shock not being able to keep the tyre in contact with the road, it bounces on the road causing worn flat spots on the tyre which reduces the life of the tyre by a huge margin - expensive.
- Poor Braking: When a car brakes with worn shocks the tyres tend to bounce causing the tyre to lose contact with the road and extending the stopping distance by an extra 2.6m from 80km/h in the dry! This could be the difference between hitting someone or not. ABS braking systems are even more affected.
- Aquaplaning: Normally this happens when there is some water on the road and your car's tyres are worn, as you go over the film of water the tyre lifts off the road and you have a complete loss of control. The same thing can happen if you have worn shocks - Even if your tyres are in good condition!
- Component Wear: Due to the extra movement of the suspension with worn shocks this causes other suspension and steering components to wear out quicker - expensive.
- Headlight Dazzle: Your car will bounce more causing the headlights to blind oncoming traffic - dangerous.
- Fatigue: With the long distances we have to travel in South Africa it's easy to tire on long journeys, this is made worse when your car's shocks are worn as you now have to concentrate more on keeping the car on the road (even if you are not aware that you are doing it), this tires you more easily - dangerous.
Travel safely, and have your shocks checked every 20,000 km.