FAQs—Volkswagen Shock Absorber and Strut Assembly
- How can I tell if my Volkswagen shock absorber and strut assembly already needs to be replaced? What are the symptoms or indicators of wear?
Symptoms of worn-out shocks and struts are often seen during handling and braking. A bouncy or stiff ride can be caused by lack of proper shock and strut support. You may also experience difficulty maneuvering the vehicle in tight corners or may have to deal with swaying during turns. These usually indicate a faulty strut. If you hit the brakes and the car bounces back and forth or nose dives, you may be dealing with broken or defective shocks. Also watch out for uneven tread wear or flat spots on your tires. Visible wear and tear on the tires can be linked to faulty shock absorbers.
- What's the difference between a shock absorber and a strut?
Both the shocks and struts keep the car from making excessive movements during turns and absorb the impact when the car encounters a speed bump or pothole. Basically, they help maintain stability by making sure that the contact between the road surface and tires are maintained properly. But even with the similarity, they're still two different parts. The difference lies mainly in functions and design. Shocks reduce vibrations through dampening. They don't carry the vehicle's weight. Their main components include hydraulic fluid, a piston, and a coil. Struts, on the other hand, are composed of different suspension parts in one assembly (shock absorber, coil spring, strut bearing, spring seat, and steering knuckle). Struts are attached to the vehicle on one end, while on the other end, they're connected to the suspension. Struts support the vehicle's weight through the coil spring and also help the vehicle adjust to various impacts from road irregularities, among other functions.
- How can I diagnose worn-out shocks on your vehicle? Is there a test you can do?
You can do a bounce test on a parked vehicle. Press down the vehicle on the front and rear to see if the car bounces excessively. If it bounces several times, then this could mean that the shocks and struts need to be replaced. Take note of the sound the vehicle makes when it rocks up and down. Knocks or taps indicate a loose piston or damaged piston shaft bushing. Inspect these parts and have them repaired or replaced if needed.
- If the shocks and struts are worn out, what would be the usual signs of wear during visual inspection?
Check for leaking fluid around the shocks or struts. This is a common indication of wear. Also look for dented casings and worn-out shock or strut mounts. If you don't have automotive experience, have a mechanic properly diagnose the problem to be sure.
- Do bouncy rides and vibrations always mean faulty shocks and struts? Or could there be other reasons for these?
Vibrations and excessive bounce may also be caused by other problems such as wheels that are out of balance or rims that are already bent. If there's too much runout in the tires, the same symptoms can be seen or felt. Don't replace the shock absorbers or struts right away without properly diagnosing the problem.
- I'm having some difficulties steering the vehicle; steering feels rather stiff. I thought the problem has something to do with the steering system, but my friend who's a home mechanic said that this is probably caused by weak shock absorbers or worn-out struts. How can this be true if the problem involves steering?
Vehicle suspension and steering are interconnected, so it's possible that difficulties experienced with steering can also be linked to a weak shock absorber or a faulty strut. When a shock absorber is already worn out, it won't be able to absorb impacts from the road and dampen vibrations effectively. This may cause excessive feedback through the steering linkage. Stiff steering can also be an indicator of a broken or bad bearing on a strut. The steering difficulty may actually be a result of poor ride control.
- What are the things I should take note of during the ride to figure out if I have a malfunctioning shock and strut assembly? I'll be taking the car to the shop this weekend, and I want to be able to tell the mechanic the symptoms.
Take note of unusual vehicle movements and excessive bounce. When the vehicle accelerates, see if it squats. Aside from leaning and swaying when turning around a corner, you should also see how the vehicle reacts or moves when you hit the brakes, encounter a bump, or drive in a rough road. Observe the steering response and ride control. Also report any unusual noise.
Tips on How to Maintain Your Volkswagen Shock Absorber and Strut Assembly
Your Volkswagen shock absorber and strut assembly is an essential component that provides the additional support your front wheels need to absorb impacts they get from the road. To keep your suspension system in great condition, the tires and springs, as well as the shock absorbers and linkages must be in top shape as well. Here are some tips on how to maintain the strut assembly of your Volks:
- Give the whole strut assembly a good cleaning.
Scrub the components in hot water and immerse them in a tank for deep cleaning. You may also use green and denatured alcohol to wipe the different parts. Use lint-free cloth to wipe down the surfaces. Make sure to use appropriate cleaning tools and products to avoid damaging the components of your strut assembly.
- Routinely check the piston, oil seal, and bushing.
It is important to include your Volkswagen shock absorber and strut assembly in your routine check-up. Usually, when the piston is damaged, it will damage the oil seal and bushing as well. When you see the chrome peeling off the piston rod or you find any type of damage on the rod's surface, it must be replaced immediately. These types of damage are commonly acquired during dust cover or bump rubber replacement or shock absorber installation.
- Avoid putting liquid in the strut housing.
To keep the Volkswagen shock absorber and strut assembly in good shape, avoid putting any liquid in the strut housing. Pressure by frozen liquid in the strut may create some physical defects on the cartridge outer shell.
- Inspect and clean the coil spring regularly.
Make sure to regularly check the epoxy power coating on the spring to avoid corrosion. When the coating is damaged during the installation or by road debris or friction, the exposed metal will start to rust rapidly, especially during cold and wet climates. The rusted spot, then, becomes the weak point where the spring may break during high level of stress.
- Replace rubber seals on a regular basis.
During high oil temperatures as seen in a race, rubber seals can wear out rapidly. These should be changed with new ones to ensure proper sealing of oil as well as trouble-free operation and protection of suspension parts. Replace overheated, lanced, or stretched seals and O-rings as well.
- Polish and clean the shock shaft.
Frequently exposed to dirt and rocks, the shock shaft or rod may get scratched and will need to be polished. Polishing the shaft is one way to ensure that only a smooth surface gets into the shock, so it will not damage the seals. A damaged seal can lead to extreme oil leak through the shaft and possible oil contamination.
- Replace the shock oil during check-up.
To keep the Volkswagen shock absorber and strut assembly working efficiently, the shock oil should be changed on a regular basis. Getting fresh oil will enhance shock performance. There are many blends of shock oil available. Each brand and manufacturer has its own special formula that makes their shock absorbers work better and withstand various road conditions. Choose the one that best works with your ride's shocks.