While a worn shock or strut (unlike a failing battery or a flat tire) won't disable the car, but if you operate a vehicle in this condition can easily lead to an accident. Shock absorbers and struts, as part of the complex steering & suspension system, usually wear gradually. Often the driver may not realize how far things have deteriorated until they have a serious driveability emergency.
These components require periodic checking and replacement. Here are the five most common misconceptions about shock absorbers and struts.
New shocks cure the weak springs on your car
Shock absorbers cannot replace spring, though special load carrying or booster shocks may help support limited overload weight.
The shock absorber's job is to smooth out the ride
That's only part of its job, and they do a lot more, improving handling by reducing front end dive when braking. They also improve safety by controlling body sway and roll on turns and prevent wheel hop, which may lead to loss of control.
New gas-charged shocks and struts last longer because there is no fluid to leak out
While gas-charged shocks and struts may last longer than prior technologies, they still have fluid. The purpose of the gas, typically nitrogen, is to prevent aeration & foaming of the fluid, which will reduce shock absorber performance.
The wheels must be re-aligned after new shock absorbers are installed.
No, but a wheel alignment should be considered if you've had new struts installed, since they are an integral part of the suspension system.
You can repair your worn shocks.
Shocks are carefully engineered sealed units, which once they fail, must be completely replaced. Some struts can use replacement cartridges, since theses are a component of the unit, and may wear out faster than the rest of the strut assembly..