Vehicles today are quite complex and diagnosing them requires highly-trained, skilled, and well-equipped personnel. Unfortunately, many vehicle repair shops have failed to keep up. Often the repairs needed on vehicles are over their heads. Some fraudulent shops love to push clients to buy replacement shock absorbers and MacPherson struts. However, these fraudulent shops are a tiny portion of the auto repair industry.
Original Replacement Parts Vehicle manufacturers use high-quality MacPherson struts and shock absorbers. Original parts are designed to last over 100,000 miles. The products fraudulent shops push to customers are often purely for profit-generating purposes as opposed to the their real needs. In many instances, the high-quality original part is replaced with an inferior-quality part. What Is The Difference Between MacPherson Struts and Shock Absorbers? The differences between the two are subtle. The role of shock absorbers is to simply dampen motion while the MacPherson strut also acts as a suspension component. It’s the reason the struts are usually heavier in design and are usually priced higher than shock absorbers. Over the years, both have evolved to be to a superior suspension job. What Are Some Of The Signs That Your Shock Absorbers Are Worn Out? Worn out shock absorbers and struts make your vehicle bounce excessively. The role of the shock absorber or the strut is roughly the same. The parts are designed to dampen the suspension’s movement in either direction. When the suspension moves down it’s referred to as jounce and when it comes back up it’s referred to as rebound. Shock absorbers and MacPherson struts that are worn out no longer control the rebound or jounce. Too much bouncing can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Parts Of A Shock Absorber To control movement, both shock absorbers and MacPherson struts use hydraulic force. Even though designs are plentiful, there’s basically a tube filled with oil. Some use pressurized gas for keeping the oil under pressure, which is referred to as a gas shock and has some performance benefits. The lower end of the shock absorber or strut is usually attached to the vehicle’s suspension. The upper end is usually anchored either to the frame or to the body via a shaft. The shaft is attached to the piston that contains valves and forms the heart of the shock absorber. How Does A Shock Absorber Work? Once there’s a jounce in the suspension, there’s movement of the piston up the tube. This in turn forces hydraulic oil through the jounce valve. The lesser the size of the valve, the more the shock absorber resists jounce. On the rebound, the piston will move up then fluid is forced through the rebound valve. Vehicle manufacturers use multiple combinations to facilitate varying rates of jounce and rebound. Varying valve rates control handling. Some more complex designs use multiple valves which actuate at different rates. When Should You Replace Shock Absorbers or MacPherson Struts? If the oil starts leaking out of the shock absorber or MacPherson strut, you need to replace it. Many people are misled by this. A small amount of oil near the shock absorber or strut’s top is normal. This by itself is not an indication for replacement unless it’s accompanied by other symptoms. If the oil is dripping or the whole unit is wet, then replacement may be necessary. Too much bouncing while driving is another indication that your shock absorbers or Macpherson struts are worn out. The driver is the best judge of any changes to the handling of the vehicle. In addition, it’s worth noting that both shock absorbers and MacPherson struts do wear out gradually. A gradual degradation in the level of handling may be harder to notice than a sudden change. A Second Opinion Is In Order If symptoms are absent but MacPherson struts or shock absorbers are still recommended, you need to get a second opinion from a professional mechanic. Similarly, you should only use a professional mechanic when the shock absorbers or struts need replacement. Other problems that might resemble shock absorber or strut problems but are not include: – Leaning: Neither the MacPherson struts nor shock absorbers usually make a vehicle lean. Leaning is usually a chassis or spring problem. – Vibrations: When driving at a relatively high speed, neither the MacPherson struts nor the struts cause vibration. Vibrations are usually associated with tires, which are either out of balance or are out of round. – Chopped Tires: Worn out struts or shocks rarely cause tire chopping. In most instances, out of round tires or bad wheel alignment are usually the culprits behind chopped tires. Ironically, tires that are out of round usually wear in a chopped manner and can ruin your shock absorbers or MacPherson struts. If you believe you have a handling problem, consult one of our professional mechanics to diagnose the problem. It will save you more than you may realize!