Skip to main content

Optimising Shock Absorber Performance

09 Sep 2019

Category: Guides

Shock absorbers are responsible for maintaining tyre-to road adhesion for good grip and braking. If they, or other suspension components are not working, contact is compromised which can result in longer braking distances and poor handling. This is especially dangerous during critical avoidance manoeuvres.

Vehicle safety systems like the anti-lock braking system (ABS) and traction control can only function perfectly if all suspension elements are in good working order. Therefore, it’s vital that the suspension system is kept in good condition.

Check All Parts

When replacing shock absorbers, all other parts of the system should be thoroughly inspected for wear.

Check the condition of ball joints and rubber-to-metal components such as control arm bushes and suspension top mounts before dismantling. Wear to these parts can lead to excessive play in the joints, subjecting the shock absorber piston rod to stress beyond its design limits.

This can cause a fatigue fracture where the threaded pin joins the piston rod. Another potential problem is side loading of the piston rod rapidly wearing both its chromium plating and its oil seal causing the shock absorber to leak.

Installing Shock Absorbers

A regular suspension test is recommended every 12,500 miles to ensure that the suspension system is working properly. However, it is important to keep in mind several symptoms that are indicative that shock absorbers should be replaced:

  • “Bottoming out” of shock absorber
  • Rattling noises
  • Worn piston rod, seals or valves
  • Shock absorber action is too soft or firm could be indicative that it is incorrect for the vehicle
  • Poor road behaviour as the damping action has deteriorated
  • Unusual tyre wear

It is best to replace shock absorbers in pairs alongside the ancillary items (spring assisters and gaiters). This is because the damping variation between new and used shock absorbers will become very apparent during critical times like avoidance manoeuvres.

Transport Tips

If moved or stored in a horizontal position, air may reach the working area of double-tube shock absorbers. This air can easily be expelled by compressing and extending the shock absorber several times with the piston rod at the top. The shock absorber can also “bleed itself” automatically after being fitted into the vehicle correctly and driven for a short time.

Previous post

Next post

View all posts

Why do Batteries Break Down in Winter?

When temperatures drop, more people tend to struggle with starting their car. Here are some...

Read More

Why do rotating products fail in winter?

Winter is the season for rotating electric failure due to the low temperatures resulting in...

Read More

Fixing a Problematic Alternator

Any problems with the alternators can be directly linked to a problem with the battery...

Read More

Strictly Necessary

These cookies are required for our website to operate and include items such as whether or not to display this pop-up box or your session when logging in to the website. These cookies cannot be disabled.


We use 3rd party services such as Google Analytics to measure the performance of our website. This helps us tailor the site content to our visitors needs.


From time to time, we may use cookies to store key pieces of information to make our site easier for you to use. Examples of this are remembering selected form options to speed up future uses of them. These cookies are not necessary for the site to work, but may enhance the browsing experience.


We may use advertising services that include tracking beacons to allow us to target our visitors with specific adverts on other platforms such as search or social media. These cookies are not required but may improve the services we offer and promote.

Change Settings

Welcome. You can control how we use cookies and 3rd party services below

Change Settings Accept
Learn how we use cookies