Shocks & Struts
The primary function of your car's suspension and steering systems is to allow the wheels to move independently of the car, while keeping it "suspended" and stable. Any play or uncontrolled motion in these systems results in a deterioration of handling and accelerated tire wear. Vehicle alignment is closely tied to the condition of the suspension and steering systems.
Worn or loose components affect the suspension system's ability to control motion and alignment angles, resulting in a deterioration of vehicle handling and stability, and accelerated tire wear. The main components of the suspension system are:
- Control Arms
- Ball Joints
- Springs (Coil or Leaf)
- Shock Absorbers
WHAT ARE SHOCKS AND STRUTS?
SHOCKS AND STRUTS HELP KEEP YOUR VEHICLE’S TIRES IN CONTACT WITH THE ROAD
- Shocks and struts not only improve ride comfort but are necessary for safe handling.
- Shocks and struts maintain vertical loads placed upon the tires. This helps ensure consistent, firm tire-to-road contact.
- By providing resistance to vehicle bounce, roll and sway - as well as brake dive and acceleration squat - shocks and struts help to maintain a balanced ride.
WHAT SHOCKS DO
Despite what many people think, conventional shock absorbers do not support vehicle weight. Instead, the primary purpose of the shock absorber is to control spring and suspension movement. This is accomplished by turning the kinetic energy of suspension movement into thermal energy, or heat energy, to be dissipated through the hydraulic fluid.
Shock absorbers are basically oil pumps. A piston is attached to the end of the piston rod and works against hydraulic fluid in the pressure tube. As the suspension travels up and down, the hydraulic fluid is forced through tiny holes, called orifices, inside the piston. However, these orifices let only a small amount of fluid through the piston. This slows down the piston, which in turn slows down spring and suspension movement.
The amount of resistance a shock absorber develops depends on the speed of the suspension and the number and size of the orifices in the piston. All modern shock absorbers are velocity sensitive hydraulic damping devices - meaning the faster the suspension moves, the more resistance the shock absorber provides. Because of this feature, shock absorbers adjust to road conditions. As a result, shock absorbers reduce the rate of:
- Roll or sway
- Brake dive and Acceleration squat