Your car's shocks or struts are an essential component of its suspension system. Found between the wheels and the chassis, they are designed to absorb bumps to create a smoother, safer driving experience. Neither shocks nor struts will last forever, though. Most cars require new shocks or struts about once every five years. So, how do you know if it's time to replace your car's shocks or struts?
#1) Steering Wheel Vibrations
If you feel heavy vibrations in your steering wheel -- or even see your steering bouncing from side to side -- it could indicate your shocks or struts or worn. As the shocks or struts fail to absorb bumps, the energy of these bumps is transferred to your car's steering column where it manifests as vibrations in the steering wheel.
#2) Bouncing When Driving
When driving, pay attention to whether your car bounces. You can expect some degree of bouncing when driving over hills and uneven terrain. If the bouncing excessive to the point where you can feel yourself rising up and falling down, though, it's probably time to replace your shocks or struts. Once the shocks or struts fail, they'll no longer effectively absorb bumps, which will cause your car to bounce when driving.
#3) Uneven Tread Wear
You might be surprised to learn that failing shocks or struts can lead to uneven tread wear of your tires. Bad shocks or struts allow tired to recoil more quickly, resulting in patches of uneven tread wear. The inner or outside of your tires may have plenty of tread, whereas the opposite end may have little or no tread left.
#4) Car Leans to the Side When Turning
Pay attention to how your car handles when turning. If it leans excessively to the side, it could be time to replace your shocks or struts.
#5) Leaking Fluid
Both shocks and struts contain hydraulic fluid, which is used to absorb the energy created by the piston rod as it pushes against them. If you see hydraulic fluid leaking from around your shocks or struts, you should bite the bullet and replace them. Fluid loss means your shocks or struts won't effectively absorb the energy created by your car's piston rod.
#6) Car Veering to the Side
If your car veers to either the left or right side while driving on a flat, even road, it could be time to replace your shocks or struts. Failure of this suspension component will restrict your car's ability to maintain its course. Even light bounces may cause your car to veer to the side.