Wed | Oct 21, 2020

Good shock absorbers give a smooth ride

Published:Sunday | August 23, 2020 | 12:10 AMPaul Glenroy Messam - Contributor

A six-speed automatic is the only transmission available.
A six-speed automatic is the only transmission available.

Shock Absorbers are the real key to your motor vehicle stability. Sometimes these devices are taken for granted. However, they are vital to the riding performance of your automobile. Shock absorbers are commonly thought to be relatively unimportant devices that do absolutely nothing more than smooth out unpleasant bumps on our roads. “In fact, they are crucial to proper control of a car,” says Kurt Harding, an experienced auto mechanic for over 20 years.

Here are some conditions that involve the use of shock absorbers:

• Heavy leaning on corners.

• Excessive nose dive while stopping.

• Steering vibration and a tendency for a car to float and wander down the road.

According to Harding, the real purpose of the shock absorber is to prevent overflexing of the springs and to maintain wheel contact with the road in order to propel, steer, and stop the car. Defective shocks cause the tyres to bounce off the road, therefore, the rubber is burned off every time the spinning wheel returns to the pavement. In the end, those wheels are pounding up and on the road, and there is little hope of maintaining proper front alignment.

1. If the front end of the car bounces more than once after a sudden stop, it indicates that the shocks are weak or inoperative.

2. If the shocks are in good working order, your car slows down hard on the front fenders, and the suspension will return quickly and firmly to the position.

3. When the shock absorbers are worn out, the spring will bounce several times before coming to a rest.

4. The steering column carries the force used to turn the steering wheel to the front wheels.

5. The suspension system includes the springs and the shock absorbers that are essential for steering and car control as well as for riding comfort.

6. Springs support the car to allow up and down bounce, therefore, shocks reduce hard bouncing.

When a car goes over a rough road, the tyres need to move up and down rapidly to maintain contact with the road. If the car’s shock absorbers or steering system parts wear excessively, the traction available to control your car will be reduced. Good shocks help to maintain traction by preventing the tyres from bouncing off the road as the car moves over high and low spots. Worn shocks allow the tyres to bounce and lose contact with the road. Therefore, it is wise and safe to replace worn shock absorbers in order to control the car.

Essentially, shocks keep the wheels on the ground. If the springing action was permitted to run free, the wheels would bounce happily into the air over each bump. Likewise in cornering, the weight transfer tends to lift weight from the inside wheels and place it on the outer pair. With the wheels off the ground, or at a point where they are not exerting maximum bite on the road surface, traction is lost, and so control suffers significantly.

Like anything else in life, shock absorbers will wear out. No matter how docile a vehicle is driven, the shocks may not last for more than two years or 25,000 miles. However, if the motor car is driven with more than normal enthusiasm over potholes, rough stony roads, the shocks may even wear out within 10,000 to 15,000 miles. So if your shocks get weak and sloppy, do not delay. Have your mechanic double-check and replace them immediately.