Can Your Shock Absorbers Wear Out?

September 28th, 2017 by

Worried about whether your shock absorbers are beginning to wear out? Here’s how to tell and what you should do to get them fixed.

What Is a Shock Absorber?

Before you can figure out if your shock absorbers need to be replaced, you need to understand what it is they do and where they are on your vehicle. Shock absorbers work to keep your tires on the ground when you are going over uneven or bumpy roads. They help you keep control of your vehicle.

What Can Go Wrong With Shock Absorbers?

While shock absorbers can usually last up to 100,000 miles, they do wear out over time. There are three main problems that can occur with shock absorbers:

– The seal of the shock absorber can become brittle or torn. It then begins to leak. If it leaks too much, it will lose its ability to absorb shock.

– Small parts inside the shock absorber can wear out before the main parts do. This is usually due to impact. This will stop the shock absorbers from working properly.

– The shock can become bent. If it is bent due to some sort of impact like a deep pothole or collision, it will not be able to function correctly.

How to Tell if Your Shock Absorbers Need to Be Replaced

There are several signs that it’s time to replace or repair your shock absorbers:

  1. The Car Is Vibrating While You’re Driving: If it feels like the steering wheel is vibrating heavily when you are driving, this is a sign that the valve or piston inside the shock absorber is wearing out or not sitting properly inside the shock absorber.
  2. The Car Takes Longer to Brake: This is a serious problem that should be addressed immediately. If you find the vehicle is taking longer to come to a complete stop, it may not be a problem with your brakes. It could be a sign that the pistons are taking longer to function.
  3. There Is Fluid Leaking From the Car: If the seal of the shock absorber does break down and leak, you will be able to see the fluid running down the side of the shock near your tires and onto the ground. This is an obvious sign that it’s time to get your shock absorbers checked.
  4. The Tires Are Wearing Unevenly: If your tires are wearing unevenly, this is a major sign there is something wrong with your shock absorbers. This happens because a worn-out shock absorber will no longer be able to keep your wheels in contact with the ground on an uneven surface. As the tire bounces off the ground, the wheel continues to turn, so over time, some parts of the tire are constantly making contact while others are not. This leads to uneven wear.
    1. Don’t Wait Too Long

      If you notice any of these symptoms in your vehicle, be sure to get to a mechanic and have your shock absorbers checked as soon as possible. Waiting too long could mean even more expensive repairs or driving an incredibly unsafe and unstable vehicle.

      Image via Flickr by Andrew Napier under use of CC BY 2.0/Cropped from original

      *Based on 2016 EPA mileage/highway estimates and driving range ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your MPGe/MPG and driving range will vary depending on driving conditions, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, battery age/condition, and other factors. For additional information about EPA ratings, visit

      *MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

Posted in Auto Tips