The definition of a shock absorber is fairly concise and to the point. These are components of a vehicle’s suspension system that restrict and in some cases control the upward and downward movement of the springs in the vehicle suspension mechanism. The operating principle that governs shock absorbers is the transfer of Kinetic Energy. The job of the shock absorber is to convert the Kinetic energy of the up and down movement of the vehicle into another form of energy – in this case, heat.
Shock absorbers are so good at damping the effects of uneven terrain due to the hydraulic fluid that they contain in their housing. This fluid provides the natural resistance and drag to allow the shock absorbers to move ‘fluidly’, unlike the springs to which they are attached. The result is a controlled sequence of movements and a drastic improvement to the ride comfort of both passengers and the driver. Check out Japfest Silverstone 2023 dates if you’re interested in attending an event that features the highest quality shock absorber systems in cars.
The shock absorber works constantly in tandem with the strut – yet another component in the vehicle’s suspension system. The strut has its own dedicated shock absorber and spring to help it cope with the weight of the vehicle. It also features an extremely tough frame.
Where can I find the Vehicle’s Shock Absorbers?
Each corner of your motor vehicle is home to a shock absorber – which makes perfect sense, given that they are attached to wheels that are constantly moving on the vertical plane when the vehicle is in motion. Each is moving independently – hence the need for each wheel to have a dedicated shock absorber.
The lineup of shock absorbers acts as a single unit in a multi-component system generally known as the vehicle’s suspension. Vehicular shock absorbers generally have a slim, cylindrical shape and they are attached to the axles on the front and back ends of the vehicle. The ‘shocks’ are surrounded by springs – and finally, we have the wheel, which is connected by the entire assemblage through the wheel hub.
What types of Shock Absorbers are Available?
Shock absorbers have one simple function – and that is to control the vertical movement of the vehicle as it travels over tarmac, dirt, and other road surfaces. Each and every vehicle is different and the manufacturers have different recommendations governing the fitment of the correct shocks. In fact, there are many different methods of shock absorber operation – so there are a correspondingly large number of choices.
What will happen if my Shocks don’t Work?
The shock absorbers on your vehicle are constantly working in concert with the struts and springs that are part of the suspension system. Failure occurs when the shock is unable to cope with changing road conditions and perform the conversion of Kinetic Energy into heat (or redistribute the energy). There are three main ways to tell when the shock absorber is failing. The first clue may be visual – your vehicle may sit a little lower than usual. Secondly, there is sound. A ‘clunking’ sound when the vehicle rides over bumps or uneven surfaces will be heard. Your third clue will be a marked deterioration in ride quality.
A passenger vehicle has been designed to offer a smooth and comfortable experience. A rougher ride and constant small jolts, or other signs of deteriorating ride quality may be signs that the shock absorbers are not operating properly.
Car owners need to be aware that wear and tear affecting shock absorbers are not always obvious.
The standard telescopic shock absorber boasts a fairly simple structure and is found at both the front and rear suspension systems of passenger vehicles. Have yours checked – and remember, it’s almost always better to replace than to repair.
The ‘strut-type’ shock absorbers replace many of the moving parts of the suspension system making it tremendously rugged and able to deal with the most adverse of road conditions. This type of setup is mostly used on medium-sized vehicles. These shock absorbers are available in either sealed or repairable versions. The sealed units are commonly found in luxury motor vehicles, with repairable versions (known as ‘McPherson Struts‘) boasting replaceable strut cartridges.
There are also ‘Spring-Seat’ shocks that offer a combination of strut-type and telescopic functionality in one unit. These spring seat shocks are highly efficient suspension units and damping devices. They differ from struts in that they are not designed for high-side loads or extremely heavy loads. Before purchasing note that these units are sealed and there is no repair option available.