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6 Warning Signs Your Car’s Shock Absorbers Are Failing

car shock absorbers

Your car’s shock absorbers are responsible for much more than providing a smooth ride. If they’re not working well, both steering and braking are less effective, creating handling problems which can quickly become dangerous.

Unfortunately, all shock absorbers slowly wear out over time. How do you know they’re nearing the end of their useful life before they start to pose a serious risk? Here are six important warning signs to look out for.


1) Uneven Tire Wear

If your tires are wearing unevenly, for example with the two front wheels showing different depths of tread, then it’s a sign that the wheels aren’t in steady contact with the road.

Uneven pavement contact usually means a problem with the suspension in general, with the shock absorbers the most likely culprit. Patchy tire wear is a clearly visible sign that you should always take seriously, so book your car for an inspection as soon as possible.


2) Leaks Under the Car

Several problems can cause liquid drips under a car, from aging brakes to transmission system leaks. However, worn shock absorber seals are also a prime cause of wet spots or stains on your driveway.

With luck, any leak is only water escaping from the air conditioning system, and so nothing to worry about. But it’s a sensible precaution to have your car checked out just in case it’s anything more serious.


3) Vibrations When Driving

If your shocks aren’t functioning smoothly, then every pothole or bump in the road can be passed through into the mechanics. This often shows itself as vibrations traveling up the steering column, which you can feel on the wheel as you drive.


4) Slower Braking

Failing shock absorbers also have an impact on braking ability. With less clean contact on the road, your brakes have a looser effect, and it’ll take longer to stop. You may also notice the front end of your car dipping downwards just before you come to a halt.


5) Poor Handling

Good handling relies on solid suspension performance, and leaking shock absorbers can cause oversteer or understeer, making it harder to handle even the gentlest of corners.

You may even notice random turns or drifts to the side when on the straight highway, in which case you should arrange an inspection as soon as possible, as handling in an emergency could be badly compromised.


6) Tapping and Knocking Noises

Lastly, once a shock absorber is badly worn, its connection to the car’s body can become loosened enough to make tapping or knocking noises every time you hit a bump.

If you recognize any of these symptoms, it’s time to book your car in with a mechanic for a full suspension and shocks inspection. Shock absorbers are responsible for much more than a comfortable drive: if they’re not performing well, controlling your car will become more difficult and unpredictable, with all the safety issues that can mean.