In their simplest form, shock absorbers are hydraulic (oil) pump like devices that help to control the impact and rebound movement of your vehicle's springs and suspension. Along with smoothening out bumps and vibrations, the key role of the shock absorber is to ensure that the vehicle’s tyres remain in contact with the road surface at all times, which ensures the safest control and braking response from your car.
Essentially, shock absorbers do two things. Apart from controlling the movement of springs and suspension, shock absorbers also keep your tyres in contact with the ground at all times. At rest or in motion, the bottom surface of your tyres is the only part of your vehicle in contact with the road. Any time that a tyre's contact with the ground is broken or reduced, your ability to drive, steer and brake is severely compromised.
Despite popular belief, shock absorbers do not support the weight of a vehicle.
Firstly, a little bit of science. Shock absorbers work by taking the kinetic energy (movement) of your suspension and converting it to thermal energy (heat) that is then dissipated into the atmosphere through the mechanism of heat exchange.
But it's nowhere near as complicated as it may sound.
As mentioned, shock absorbers are basically oil pumps. A piston is attached to the end of a piston rod and works against hydraulic fluid in the pressure tube. As the suspension travels up and down, the hydraulic fluid is forced through orifices (tiny holes) inside the piston. Because the orifices only allow a small amount of fluid through the piston, the piston is slowed which in turn slows down spring and suspension movement.
Shock absorbers automatically adjust to road conditions because the faster the suspension moves, the more resistance they provide.
Although all shock absorbers do the same job, different types of vehicles and suspension designs require different types of shock absorbers which can appear radically different.
No matter the application, all shock absorbers fit into one of three broadly defined types conventional telescopic shock absorbers, struts or spring seat shocks.
This is the simplest type of shock absorber and is generally replaced rather than repaired. This type of shock absorber can be found on both front and rear suspension systems and is relatively inexpensive.
Although they do the same basic job, struts replace part of the suspension system and must be more ruggedly built to cope with greater loads and forces. Although most commonly seen on the front and rear of small to medium cars, larger cars are now tending towards strut based suspension design. The strut category is further divided into sealed and repairable units. As the name suggests, sealed units are designed to be fully replaced, whilst repairable (McPherson) struts are able to be fitted with replacement strut cartridges.
The spring seat type shows characteristics of both telescopic and strut type shock absorbers. Like struts, a spring seat shock is a suspension unit and damping device in a single unit. Unlike struts however, they are not designed to be subject to high side loads. Built using similar components to conventional shock absorbers, spring seat shocks are also sealed requiring full replacement.
Monroe’s reputation for innovation comes down two three things. Testing, testing and testing. As you’ll see, the company makes sure its products performance across braking, handling and stability is always 100%.
You’re also about to discover how your control relies on Monroe’s Mounting and Protection Kits. So every time you check your shocks & suspension… check your vital Monroe mounts and compression bumpers too.
Shocks and struts are key components of the suspension system. Replacing worn or inadequate shocks and struts and thoroughly inspecting the entire suspension system will help to maintain good vehicle safety and control.
Although the best way to test your shock absorbers is through a workshop and road test by a qualified technician, there are some very distinctive signs of excessive shock absorber wear and tear you can keep an eye out for. Depending on the type of shock absorber fitted to your vehicle, they may need replacing or repairing.
Worn shock absorbers can add as much as 20% to your stopping distance. That's the sort of fault that can be fatal and requires immediate attention.
If the bonnet of your car dips when you brake or slow down, or your vehicle swerves under brakes, you may have a shock absorber problem.
Uncomfortable steering wheel vibration could be shock absorbers.
If your car veers in side winds, particularly when the wind isn't so strong, you could have shock absorber problems.
Notice that your car 'rock and rolls' over bumps, railway tracks or uneven surfaces? Not hugging the bends? Time to get those shock absorbers checked then!
If your tyres are wearing unevenly, particularly if there are bald patches, odds are it's your shock absorbers.
The way you drive, where you drive, what you drive, the loads you carry, the weather many things can impact on shock absorber life - so there is no hard and fast answer to this question. However, Monroe and other leading automotive experts recommend that you have a trained specialist inspect your shock absorbers for signs of wear every 20,000km.
Many Monroe Shock absorbers are covered by a three-year/60,000km warranty so there's a benchmark to start from!
You’ll get a lot further and a lot more out for your tyres by driving sensibly, but when you take the best care choosing steering, struts and suspension components you’ll get even more. And ‘best care’ means Monroe’s innovative and industry leading shock absorbers, suspension and struts. In 2 minutes and 13 seconds time, you’ll know the signs of worn tyres… and the solution. Monroe!
Shock absorbers, brakes and tyres are essential to your motoring safety. Shock absorbers keep your wheels in contact with the road without them your brakes and tyres simply can't do their job!
At 50km/h, just one worn shock absorber can increase your stopping distance by up to 2 metres!
Worn shock absorbers can cause your tyres to lose contact with the road dramatically affecting steering.
Worn shock absorbers cause excessive sway around corners making the car a lot less stable.