Shocks and struts perform a similar function but vary greatly in their design. Struts are an integral part of a vehicle’s suspension system, providing structural support for the vehicle and, as such, are a safety subsystem. Shocks work separately from any structural function, simply absorbing and damping the bumps from the road.
Shocks and struts play an integral role in your vehicle’s suspension system. They are designed primarily to give you a much smoother ride by absorbing and damping feedback from the road. Keep in mind, automotive shocks and struts do more than just provide a comfortable ride.
One of their most important functions is to influence the control and handling characteristics of your vehicle. They work to keep your tires on the road and to keep you safe and comfortable. Without them, a vehicle would continually bounce up and down, making handling and steering of the vehicle extremely difficult, as well as dangerous.
Vehicle ride control, safety, and a driver’s ability to steer and brake depend on having firm contact between the vehicle’s tires and the road. Shocks and struts aid in ensuring this contact remains secure under any driving condition.
Yes, all shocks and struts use hydraulic fluid (oil) to control damping. A gas charged shock or strut uses high-pressure nitrogen gas to reduce oil foaming during high-speed damping, and therefore maintains performance.
Probably not. “Misting” is a common occurrence and totally normal in shocks and struts. In fact, shocks and struts are designed to mist slightly. This oil “mist” lubricates the seal as the rod moves, maximizing shock and strut life. A secondary benefit is additional rod corrosion protection. A small amount of oil on the box is normal. However, if there is an excessive amount of oil on the shock or strut, if oil is running or dripping down the side, or if the box is saturated, the shock or strut may be defective and may need to be replaced.
Possibly. There are many factors that can contribute to uneven tire wear; the most common cause is a wheel alignment. Worn ride control components can also contribute. Cupping of the tires is commonly seen as an indicator of worn ride control components. However, other types of tire wear can also be caused by worn ride control parts.
As shocks and struts degrade slowly over time, so does the performance and control of your vehicle. Shocks and struts play an essential role in your suspension system; keeping your tires on the road during daily driving conditions and aid in preventing your tires and other suspension parts from becoming damaged and worn out. If shocks or struts aren’t replaced, all ride control elements are affected. Your stability, steering, tire contact with the road, and ability to stop are all affected and greatly reduce driver safety. For maximum comfort, control, performance and safety it is essential to replace your shocks and struts at regular intervals.
Yes, shocks and struts do wear out. They will rarely fail completely, but wear and tear is a gradual process that happens over time. A shock can be composed of up to 40 precision engineered parts, which include: valves, valve seats and springs, pistons, a piston rod, and a number of high precision parts and seals. All of these components are susceptible to wear and tear over time. That’s why Gabriel® recommends that you have your shocks checked by a qualified service technician every 12 months or 12,000 miles.
To check your shocks Gabriel® advises that you take your vehicle to your local service technician and let them do an inspection. If you want to do a quick check yourself, you can look for any physical damage to the shock or strut housing or any leaking – this is especially common on rear units that tend to have stones kicked up by the front wheels. You can also perform a bounce test by taking each corner of the vehicle and pushing down hard. The corner should drop, rise and settle again. If the body continues to move up and down, there’s a good chance your shocks need to be replaced. Gabriel recommends you have your shocks professionally checked by a qualified service technician every 12 months or 12,000 miles.
Generally, Gabriel® recommends replacing your shocks or struts at regular 50,000-mile intervals to ensure a safer and more comfortable ride in most vehicles. Actual mileage intervals may vary based on vehicle, manufacturer’s specifications, vehicle use and environment. However, shocks and struts should be replaced for a number of reasons:
This could be caused by a missing jounce bumper, which is an elastomeric part that absorbs the energy when two metal parts bump together. There could be other causes, so it’s important to contact your local technician for an inspection or immediate replacement.
No. With the exception of a few specialty shocks, you should never mount your shock absorbers upside down. Typical twin-tube shocks are simply not designed to function upside down for many important reasons. Attempts to do this will likely result in poor shock performance, premature failure and potential damage to your vehicle.
If you are having your shocks and struts serviced or replaced, all other parts of the shock or strut assembly should be checked. These may include the upper mount, bearing, strut bumper, strut boot, coil spring and spring isolator(s). In addition, connecting nuts and bolts should be checked, as they also undergo much wear and tear. If you are replacing a strut and are concerned about the durability of any of these older components, consider a Gabriel® ReadyMount®. A ReadyMount offers a state-of-the-art, completely pre-assembled strut assembly with all-new, high quality upper mount, coil spring and other component parts in one easy-to-install package. It saves time and labor costs resulting from multiple rebuilds and teardowns.
Yes. Unlike shock absorbers, a strut is a structural part of your suspension and steering subsystems; directly influencing your vehicle’s alignment. It is highly recommended to have your vehicle aligned after your struts are serviced. Failure to do so may result in uneven tire wear, a drop in fuel economy and excessive wear on other suspension components.
In some cases you only need to support the lower control arm to shorten the distance, while you connect the shock. Many vehicles are designed to use the length of the shock absorber as a limiter for suspension travel. Gabriel® also recommends that you measure the ride height before performing any suspension work. It can indicate other problems if it is out of specification. A lower than specified ride height might indicate that your vehicle has worn springs. A taller than specified ride height might indicate that a lift kit is installed on the vehicle.
Yes, as long as you return the vehicle to its original ride height when you remove the snow plow. Premature shock absorber failure is likely if you do not return the vehicle to its original ride height after removing the snow plow.
Increase driver comfort and control.
Reduce tire wear.
Decrease stress on – and increase the life of – other key components and systems.
Determine your ride height.
Cause or fix vibrations.
Increase load carrying capacity of your vehicle.
Many drivers are quick to forget how a good shock absorber should work. As old shocks become worn over time, they ride softer and drivers tend to adjust their driving style to compensate for this. New Gabriel® shocks return the car to its original ride. It’s important you seek a Gabriel replacement shock or strut with the ride performance that meets your needs.
A typical strut must be replaced as an entire unit. The hydraulic wear-out items – piston, seals, tube and rod – are contained in the tube-and-rod assembly, which is permanently enclosed in the strut body. In some strut designs, however, these wear-out items can be replaced or upgraded separately, with a new cartridge. A Gabriel® Ultra™ Cartridge is a self-contained tube-and-rod assembly, with all new hydraulic components, to replace your worn-out parts. Because it is an Ultra design, you can be sure that it has a super-finished chromed piston rod and G-Force™ Technology, providing you with superior corrosion protection and the perfect combination of safety, performance and control in your car’s ride.
A Gabriel® Ultra™ Spring Seat Shock is a variation on the conventional shock absorber design that uniquely features a Striker Cap at the top of the shock body. This separate metal cap is designed to take the impact of the jounce bumper or bump-stop when the shock is near full compression.
In some designs, the Spring Seat Shock includes a spring seat – this type of design is sometimes called a “coilover shock.” Similar designs may also be referred to as “mini-struts.” At Gabriel, however, they call all of these designs Ultra Spring Seat Shocks. And like all Ultra products, they are built with super-finished chromed piston rods and GForce™ technology to restore the ultimate in safety and performance to your car’s ride.