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How to Tell if Bad Shocks, Struts are Ruining Your Ride

One nice thing about new cars is how nice the ride quality is and how quiet it is inside the vehicle. After many miles and years, though, all cars, SUVs, and trucks face the same thing: worn-out shocks and struts.

Although this process takes some time, it often seems like an overnight occurrence. One day your car is just fine. The next day, however, you can’t help but think that the “seats” are worn out because your nice set of wheels feels more like a car from the Flintstones.

When you start noticing that your ride doesn’t feel right or seems harder than before, chances are that the shocks and/or struts are worn out.

How do you know for sure? Let’s look at the 6 most common symptoms of bad shocks and struts.

Problem #1- A Hard or Bumpy Ride

This is the most obvious and hard-to-ignore problem. One of the main jobs that shocks and struts do is to make your car ride more smoothly. They absorb the impact of the road and soften the potholes, rocks and speed bumps. Once your struts or shocks wear out, you might start to notice every little dip in the road a lot more than you used to.

Problem #2 – Dipping

If you have ever backed out of a driveway and felt the back bumper or trunk area hit the road with a nice scraping sound, that is known as dipping. Besides absorbing vibration for a smoother ride, shocks and struts also support your vehicle, preventing dipping. This can also happen if you need to slam on the brakes. You might notice that the front of your vehicle dips way down in front, almost as if it’s an actor giving a bow at the end of a performance. If your car is dipping, either in front, back or both, this is a sure-fire sign you need to replace those shocks or struts.

Problem #3 – Fluid Leaks

Shocks and struts are hydraulic parts that hold fluid inside the upper portion. If you bend down to look at the shocks and you see fluid leaking down the shaft, it is time for new ones. The same is true for struts.

Problem #4 – Steering Issues

If your steering wheel seems harder to turn than normal or if the steering wheel vibrates when driving on the freeway, this can also be a sign of worn-out shocks or struts. If your vehicle feels unstable or feels like it’s leaning to one side when you change lanes or make turns, you should have your shocks and struts inspected ASAP. This is especially true for those driving SUVs because they have a greater chance of rolling over in an accident or when a driver loses control. 

Problem #5 – Braking Issues

Many people think that the only job that shocks and struts have is to make your ride more comfortable, but the truth is that these parts also have a great deal to do with the stability of the car. When front struts are worn out, they can cause problems you never considered, such as braking issues. 

If the struts are not supporting the front suspension, the brakes can cause problems such as dipping (see problem #2) when you brake hard or suddenly. It can also cause your brakes and other brake parts, such as the rotors, to wear down more quickly. When you brake suddenly, struts generally absorb the full force and weight of the vehicle. When the struts are unable to do this because they are worn, this pressure is now forced on the brake system, causing your nice, new brakes to wear out a lot quicker. 

Problem #6 – Excessive or Unusual Tire Wear

Ask anyone who has bought tires recently, and they will tell you that good tires are not cheap. When the front struts or shocks are worn out, this often causes the vehicle to be out of alignment. This basically means that the wheels and tires aren’t in the proper position. 

This can cause your front tires to have like-new tread on the outside but be bald on the inside of the tire, or the reverse. You might also see what appears to be scoops taken out of the tire. This is called cupping, and it occurs when the shocks or struts are worn out and the tires are bouncing excessively. These tire problems will cause you not only to buy new tires much sooner than you planned, but this can also become a dangerous situation. Front tire blowouts from wear might make you lose control of the vehicle. 

We aren’t trying to frighten anyone when we say that these can be dangerous issues. We’re sharing the facts so you can make informed decisions. 

Driving with worn out shocks or struts can greatly affect your ability to steer, brake, and control your vehicle. 

If you see or feel any of these symptoms with your vehicle, don’t compromise your safety or the safety of your family. Call us at Bockman’s Auto Care at 815-756-7413 or schedule an appointment online. We will inspect your vehicle and let you know if your shocks and struts are worn out or if there’s another issue at play. 

Our ASE-Certified technicians are well-qualified to inspect and replace your car’s struts and/or shocks if it is necessary.