There is a minor difference between a shock absorber and a strut. Shocks are exposed in the suspension system, while a strut is mounted inside of a suspension coil spring. Other than that distinction, they both serve the same purpose: to serve as a dampener for a vehicle's suspension springs. Without shocks or struts, the tires, wheels and the vehicle itself would bounce excessively. Likewise, worn-out or defective shocks and struts will cause a vehicle's tires and wheels to bounce too much, creating an unsafe and uncomfortable driving experience.
Things You'll Need
Inspect the shocks by looking for oil leaks. Use a flashlight and visually inspect the shocks from top to bottom. If oil is detected, clean the oil from shocks. Then drive the vehicle and recheck for fresh oil leaks.
Perform a bounce test by pushing down on the front and then the rear of the vehicle. After pushing down, back away from the vehicle and see of the vehicle bounces. A vehicle that bounces up and down more than once or twice is an indication of worn-out shocks or struts.
Run the palm side of your gloved hand over the tread of the tires. Feel for choppy or bumpy tire tread wear. Choppy tread wear is a sign of defective shocks.
Replace any shock or strut that's leaking, bounces excessively or causes choppy tire tread wear.
Tips & Warnings
- If a only a single shock or strut is bad, it's acceptable to replace a single shock.
- Be careful of sharp objects embedded in tires when checking for choppy tread wear.
- Photo Credit Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images
When to Replace Truck Struts
Replacing the struts and/or shocks on your truck is a routine part of maintenance, though fortunately the need to replace them does...
What Does a Car Strut Do When It Goes Bad?
Car struts, like shock absorbers, support and stabilize a vehicle's frame and body. When struts fail, they exhibit a wide range of...
Signs of Bad Coil Springs & Shocks
Bad vehicle coil springs and shocks negatively impact a vehicle's stability and can cause a host of driving-related symptoms. Designed to stabilize...
How to Tell if Dodge Ram Shocks Are Bad
A lot of people think the shock absorbers on your vehicle just help smooth out the ride, but they're only partially correct....
How to Repair Shocks & Struts
Struts and shocks are designed to absorb the impact of potholes and other defects in the road while driving. The first true...
How to Check for Bad Struts
The struts on the front of your car are part of an interlocking system of front-end suspension components. Diagnosing bad struts can...