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Anyone looking for a smoother ride understands the importance of having good shocks and struts. But the comfort of the ride is not the only reason to have good shocks and struts. There are safety reasons for wanting to keep your suspension in good shape.
When you're jarred by a pot hole or bump in the road, you can easily lose control of your vehicle if the jolt is hard enough. Front shocks and struts seem to pay the biggest price when hitting bumps or pot holes because the bulk of the weight is in the front of
the vehicle. Good automotive shocks and automotive struts are a must on any vehicle for safety and comfort. Shocks and struts wear for several reasons including the usage of the vehicle, lack of maintenance, abuse, worn down, and poor installation. The care we put into our vehicle is extremely crucial to the comfort we expect from the vehicle and the safety not only for ourselves, but for others as well.
When is it time to replace your shocks or struts? It all depends on the car. Some mechanics will tell you to replace your vehicle's shocks or struts at a certain mileage, if they begin to leak or if the shocks or struts make an unusual noise. You might feel the vehicle pulling more to one side, or the vehicle will have what feels like excessive bouncing while driving. These are all good reasons for having your shocks and struts checked by a professional. Typically, you should have your shocks and struts examined once a year, or every 12,000 to 13,000 miles, depending on the amount of use and abuse you place on your vehicle.
Imagine your brakes are brand new, and installed perfectly with no flaws, but your shocks or struts are worn, and are failing. Does this affect your ability to brake? Yes! Even though your brakes are brand new and your vehicle is stopping quite well, factor in road bumps, pot holes, roads that are uneven or on inclines, or road debris (such as shredded tires) and you've got a bad shock problem. Add all the possible road conditions out there, along with worn out shocks or struts, and add some bad weather and you've got the makings for a disaster. Worn shocks and struts can also add wear to tires faster, decreasing your vehicle's ability to perform. When worn tires are now added to the worn out shocks and struts, you increase your chances of a mishap, not to mention you also decrease, even more, your vehicle's braking, steering, handling performance. All these will happen in the case of worn out shocks and struts.
Although shocks and struts are a lot alike in function, they are very different in design. A shock is designed to control spring motion as is the strut, but the strut acts as a suspension part and sometimes replaces other suspension parts. Sometimes used as pivot points for the steering and as an adjustment tool for alignment purposes, struts can absorb side loads where shocks do not. Shocks are typically more expensive, but struts are not always as good as shocks depending on the vehicle. The shocks and/or struts that work best for you will depend on whether your vehicle is for racing, offroading, or just for the family car. Talk to your mechanic about the best options for struts and shocks.
Since making their first 'shock eliminator' in 1926, Monroe has been a leader in automotive suspension development. By the 1950's, Monroe shocks were found on nearly all cars coming out of Detroit, and in 1953 the winning car in the Indianapolis 500 had Monroe shocks damping its suspension. With these early successes under its belt, Monroe continued to grow, opening a European manufacturing plant in Belgium in 1964. Through the 70's and 80's, Monroe kept expanding, moving into Austrailia and acquiring other suspension companies which allowed them to round out their suspension offerings. Today, Monroe continues to lead suspension design and technology, and in 2005 began offering brake kits to further expand their automotive parts.
Bilstein shocks have been standard equipment on all Mercedes Benz vehicles since 1958. This fact speaks volumes of Bilstein's quality and performance. Bilstein shocks are not just found on German Q-ships; they've proven themselves in the legendary Baja 1000 off road endurance race, and can be found on RV's, street rods, and full-out cirlce-track and road race cars. To give you an idea of the quality of Bilstein shocks, they are OEM equipment on Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, and Chrysler vehicles.
Do have a car that sees duty on the street, and the track? These two environments require very different suspension settings, and if you optimize your car for one, the other will suffer. There is a simple solution - The KYB AGX Adjustable Gas Shocks. These high performance KYB shocks allow on-car adjustment to suit your needs; set the dampening high for the track, and turn it back down for street driving. Older style adjustable shocks could not be adjusted on-car, which was a huge detriment.
If you have a light truck and you use it off road, don't depend on the shock absorbers and the springs that come from the factory. The bumbs and holes in off road terrain are often too much for the springs and shocks and can therefore result in damage to your car. If you are looking for a light truck aftermarket suspension, Rancho shocks are one of the best brands you can go with. Rancho shocks are better for off road use because they are a "tri tube" rather than a "twin tube" design. This design offers more positions for the shocks and a quick adjusting shock absorption.
Both shocks and struts are designed to damp the harmonic oscillation of the car's springs after hitting a bump, or taking a curve. The most common shock absorbers have a “twin tube” design that makes up a hydraulic pump that sits between the car frame and the wheels. They work in a compression cycle and an extension cycle – the compression cycle compresses the hydraulic fluid downward (as the piston moves down) while the extension cycle occurs when the piston moves up, compressing the hydraulic fluid in the opposite direction. Most modern shock absorbers are speed sensitive so the faster the car moves, the more resistance the shock absorber gives.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|