FAQS—Jeep Shock Absorber and Strut Assembly
- The shocks and struts of my Jeep are already worn out, and they’ve been giving me a rough time driving. Unfortunately, before I can have them fixed, I need to drive over to a friend’s house to pick up some stuff. How should I drive my Jeep with bad shocks and struts? Any suggestion or tip to avoid hassles on the road?
One thing you can do is to accelerate smoothly and slowly to prevent the rear end from dropping and the front end from rising sharply. Also avoid slamming on the brakes. You must go gentle with the brakes to prevent nosedives. On corners, don’t do sharp turns as these can lead to body roll or excessive leaning. With worn-out shocks and struts, handling and control will suffer, so be a little bit more careful. As much as possible, avoid driving over bumps, ruts, and rough spots on the road. If there’s no other way to go around them, then drive slowly.
- When should you replace the shocks and struts? What’s the recommended timeframe or maintenance schedule?
Factory-installed shocks and struts can last up to 50,000 or 60,000 miles or longer before they show signs of deterioration. The working condition of these suspension components depends on how the vehicle is handled and where it is driven (driving condition). For instance, if the vehicle is driven mostly on smooth and bump-free roads, then the shocks and struts will be in better shape far longer than if the vehicle is driven on roads with rough conditions or where there’s snow, gravel, or mud. Some recommend checking the shocks and struts of passenger vehicles every 12,000 miles. Others suggest the inspection of the suspension system to be done after 25,000 miles and every 15,000 miles after that.
- My tires have uneven wear that almost seems like the small parts of rubber were carved out using a knife. My brother said that I have scalloped/cupped tires and that these can be related to worn-out shocks and struts. Is this true? I just had my shocks checked three months ago, so I’m not sure.
Cupping and scalloping on the tires are a symptom of shock and strut wear. These happen when the shocks and/or struts can no longer keep the tires in contact with the road surface. Because of this, the tires might wheel-hop or skip, causing parts of the rubber to be cut from the tread, especially when the vehicle is driven at high speeds. You may then see waves around the circumference. Although this uneven tire wear may be blamed on bad shocks or worn-out struts, there are also other probable causes for cupped or scalloped tires such as loose wheel bearings, a wheel assembly that’s out of balance, faulty springs and other suspension parts, duals that are not properly matched, dual inflation inconsistency, and tire/wheel assembly that’s not mounted correctly. Have your vehicle checked by a mechanic to be sure.
- How can I check for bad shock absorbers? My car tends to lean a bit more than usual on a tight turn. I’ve also noticed occasional creaks and groans and other undercarriage noises. I’m thinking that all these have to do with the old shocks.
Strange undercarriage noises and excessive lean are common symptoms of bad shock absorbers. Nosediving when braking and the hood rising sharply during sudden acceleration can also be signs of wear. Take your car out for a spin and drive through bumps and curves to see how the suspension will react. Excessive bouncing and vibrations, as well as unusual dips and squats, can tell you that the shock absorbers in your vehicle are no longer in their prime condition. A deviation in ride height, considering that the tires have the exact pressure, can also indicate wear on the shocks. Check the shock body or tube for leaks and see if there are loose bolts or corroded mounts. If you’re not familiar with the suspension system, have your shocks and struts checked by a qualified mechanic for proper diagnosis and repair.
- What’s the proper way of doing the bounce test to check if the shocks or struts are faulty? I’m driving a pre-loved Jeep, and I’m not sure how I can tell for sure if there’s excessive lean or vibrations. With the bounce test, I figured that I can at least confirm if the shocks and struts are no longer in great condition.
Push down the front (or rear) of the vehicle firmly. As you press hard, you’ll then have to let go of the pressure to see if the vehicle will bounce for several times or more than twice. Others step right onto the bumper and use their weight to rock the vehicle (front or rear) up and down and then they step off the bumper to check for rebounds. Multiple rebounds could mean that the shocks and struts are worn out.
- How can you check for air leakage on a Jeep shock and strut assembly? Oil or fluid leak is quite easy to trace and spot, but air leak is a hard one to tell.
Spray some soapy water on the shocks and struts and their connections or hoses. This will reveal whether or not there’s an air leak in the assembly through air bubbles that will ooze from the parts that have been sprayed.
- How can you check if there’s any deviation in ride height that may indicate shock or strut wear? What’s the proper way of doing this?
All four tires must have the exact pressure. To check for any deviation in strut or shock height, use a tape measure that will go from the top of the fender wheel well all the way to the ground’s surface. Do this for all the fender wheel wells. The measurement for the front and rear may vary a little, and it’s okay because the difference could be because of the design of the vehicle. However, the side-to-side measurement should not differ largely, at least not more than a half inch in variation.
Advantages of Having a Healthy Jeep Shock Absorber and Strut Assembly
Your Jeep is designed to conquer both the paved road and off-road. It can rough it out in rugged terrains and still give you a sweet ride on the highway or city streets. With a sturdy Jeep shock absorber and strut assembly, the whole drive doesn't have to be a roller coaster ride. Although this can be badly beaten in the off-road, your Jeep can make it through just fine.
All thanks to properly working shocks and struts, you won't have to suffer from the clunky, bouncy feel when driving. These suspension components give you that smooth, comfortable ride even on a cracked or uneven pavement, rocky dirt road, and other road conditions. Shocks dampen the forces on the road or the vibrations due to the uneven surface. As you drive over a bump or a pothole or crevice, the shocks are there to prevent an excessively bumpy feel to the ride. Struts, meanwhile, integrate various suspension parts. Aside from the shock absorber, the assembly consists of the coil spring, the spring seats, the strut bearing, and the steering knuckle. You may think of the struts as advanced shock absorbers with several more functions such as supporting the weight through the coil spring while also allowing the vehicle to adjust better to road irregularities. Struts also link the upper bearing to the lower ball joint, letting the entire assembly pivot when the vehicle is turned.
Vehicle handling and control
The shock and strut assembly of your Jeep not only gives you ride comfort. This also affects the handling characteristics of the vehicle. If the assembly deteriorates, vehicle control can be greatly affected. Shocks and struts also help maintain tire-ground contact. They also help prevent the vehicle from leaning and swaying during turns as they absorb the road impact, especially when driving over a bump or pothole. When the shocks and struts fail or start to wear out, you can feel the difference in vehicle handling and control. The tire may have an unusual wear such as cupping. When this leaks and loses fluid, it can't provide the needed resistance to dampen the forces or absorb vibrations. Without a good shock and strut support, suspension quality and steering responsiveness will suffer. On a tight curve, your ride may lean and sway from side to side.
Shocks and struts not only affect ride comfort and vehicle handling and control. The condition shock and strut assembly also has an effect on braking effectiveness. Healthy shocks and struts make it easier to brake or slow down the vehicle. If the shocks and struts are worn out, there would be a longer stopping distance. Also the vehicle may rock back and forth during sudden stops. At higher speeds, the vehicle may drift left or right when braking. As you can see, the shocks and struts not only affect handling and ride quality. They're also crucial for driving safety as they help maintain firm contact between the tires and the road surface and also make braking more responsive and effective.