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Shocks and Struts

Shock Value: Rid Yourself of a Rough Ride with New Shocks and Struts

Got yourself a low-rider, but no one pimped your ride to scuff the street? That’s just one of the signs your car might need a new set of shocks or struts.

Up-to-snuff shock absorbers surely make our time spent on the road more pleasant by keeping the vehicle from bouncing, while struts ensure our ride is stable (not “floating” all over the road) and keep the tires stay planted on the pavement. When either are worn or compromised, the vehicle will be harder to control, will bounce more on bumps and potholes, will nose dive and will even take longer to stop.

How do I know when I need new shocks or struts?

The visual evidence of damaged or worn shocks and struts includes: shock- or strut-oil leakage; dented or damaged housings; and uneven tire wear or cupping.

Driving-related situations revealing faulty shock absorbers/struts include:

  • Excessive rough-surface bounce or “bottoming out”
  • Vibrations (including steering-wheel vibrations, rocking and rattling)
  • Veering in side winds
  • Swerving in reaction to road conditions or steering activity
  • Traction loss while accelerating, braking or cornering
  • Nose-dives during braking
  • Tire noise

What parts do I need to replace shocks or struts?

Because replacing shocks is easier than replacing struts, let’s focus on that task here. To replace your shocks, you’ll need:

  • A new set of shocks
  • Floor jack
  • Jack stand
  • Basic hand tools

Key DIY Tips

Unlike simple tasks such as replacing headlights or a set of wiper blades, swapping out a set of struts can prove a dangerous undertaking. Here are a couple of tips taken from the detailed how-to directions for replacing shocks and struts from our NAPA Know How Blog:

  • Three shock types exist: McPherson Struts, coil-over shocks and plain shock absorbers. Struts and coil-overs include a coil spring suspension, while plain shock absorbers are used in conjunction with a separate leaf or coil spring.
  • Because they’re under intense spring pressure, replacing worn struts or coil-over shocks is a potentially hazardous task and special equipment is needed to safely compress the coil spring.
  • Occupying more DIY-friendly territory, plain shock absorbers can be replaced using a floor jack, jack stand and basic hand tools. A pickup truck’s exposed rear shocks can be swapped in as few as 20 minutes, for example. Other vehicles might require removal of interior trim, molding, or seats to get at the top of the shock.

Safety alert: Always use correct lifting procedures and properly torque all fasteners.

If you need help, you can always stop by Glenbrook Auto Parts or one of our affiliated NAPA Auto Care Centers for some professional advice or assistance. More adventurous or experienced DIY-ers might even want to upgrade their shocks for improved performance.

What other repairs or maintenance should I do at the same time?

Whether you do-it-yourself or work with pros to replace your shocks and struts, you should also:

  • Perform a wheel alignment. This is a “must do” after replacing struts.
  • Inspect your tires for even and sufficient tread wear.
  • Inspect your other steering and suspension parts. If a component is worn, the wear-and-tear is that much greater on your shocks, struts, springs, tires and other steering and suspension parts.

Remember, with Glenbrook Auto Parts in Glenview, you can save time by ordering your parts online and picking them up in the store. We’ll have them ready and waiting for you.

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