Worn or damaged shocks increase costs in a variety of ways - some more obvious than others. Therefore, it is wise to look for evidence of problem shocks on a regular basis.
One common sign of a worn shock is leaking hydraulic fluid. However, it is also important to look for signs of physical damage to the unit. Worn springs may lead to premature wear or damage as well. In general, worn suspension components may cause excess movement which damages shocks.
When a single shock shows signs of wear, it is important to consider that the entire ride control system is typically exposed to approximately the same level of wear-and-tear. In many cases, it is ideal to simultaneously replace both shocks and springs.
Hydraulic fluid in a shock does not lubricate like engine oil, so internal wear can lead to reduced dampening capacity. Once dampening ability is reduced by half or more, wheel hop becomes a real concern, particularly on rough roads. Wheel hop often leads to distortions of a tire’s intended footprint, and scalloped cupping may appear on a tire’s tread. Once this cupping begins, irregular tire wear continues even if the shocks are replaced at a later date.
For many reasons, delays in shock replacement can increase per/mile costs for tires, suspension components, air conditioning connections, electronics components and chassis parts. On the other hand, shock replacement on a preventative basis may offer the best overall savings in the long run.
Finally, excessive bouncing and wheel hop may increase driver fatigue. In an era of heightened awareness of the perils of fatigued driving, it is important to consider any link between maintenance delays and a driver’s work conditions.
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