How does a shock absorber work?

Shock absorbers have been in use since the automobile early days. However, with all the years, the general driving public is yet to understand in-depth how the system operates and its driving force.

Due to lack of understanding, most often the self-proclaimed automotive enthusiasts will often ignore and neglect the shock absorbers. Therefore, degrading the ride comfort and handling performance of the vehicle. 

Although it may seem like a small device in the car, shock absorbers require extra respect from automotive riders. When worn out, you will miss the joy of quality maneuvers in the extreme or dangerous situation. This might even lead to an accident that could have been escaped by having your shocks replaced. 

However, all is not lost. If you are among the many who have zero or little information on how the shock absorbers work, this blog is for you.

Do they absorb shocks?

It is possible to assume that shock absorbers are used to absorb shocks in the vehicle. If this has been your belief, then it’s time to change. Absorbing shocks is the work of springs in the vehicles suspension system.
When the wheel of your car comes to contact with a bump, it will move upward. The movement will compress and store the bump energy into the spring. The compression, therefore, absorbs the bump shock.

Now the role of shock absorbers is to ensure that when the spring releases energy to get to its original state, the vehicle does not bounce down the road.

If your vehicle’s shock absorbers are worn out, the on and off bouncing can pull the tires off the ground or even make the car uncontrollable.

However, with good shock absorbers, instead of the spring bouncing up and down, it takes that energy and converts it to heat. This prevents the vehicle from bouncing excessively, therefore, giving you the ultimate control of your car in every situation. It also allows you to experience safe ground and tire contact as you ride.

How it works?

Technically speaking, there is a piston inside the shock absorber, which moves in an oil-filled tube. With every piston movement, the oil is forced out through tiny valves and holes within the piston. In return, it controls the movement resistance, which later converts the energy to heat.

Was that tough to digest? Worry not, here is a little breakdown to ensure you get the technicalities right. The principle of shock absorbers is the same as when you wave your hand in the water.

You will often feel the resistance to motion as the speed of your waving changes. Therefore, you will need more energy to break the resistance of motion as you increase speed. If you are yet to digest, you still have a chance to do it practically.

Fill a basin with water and wave your hand across, keep the sequence and carefully listen to the movement of your hand against the water.

This type is, therefore, the most reliable for riders who often use rough roads. It eliminates all the possibilities of overheat, hence offering you a smooth and authentic experience.

Difference between shocks and struts

Your vehicle's suspension is the most critical part of the car. Struts and shocks both work to ensure your vehicle is secure from all the potholes and bumps along the road. The two can be used interchangeably. However, you cannot have both on the same wheel.

Although the two parts have the same functions, they are entirely different. Your vehicle also cannot change to accommodate the other if its designed for the other.

Since this is a complicated mechanical issue, it may not be easy for you to understand what your vehicle needs. If you are confused in between the two, this blog is the opener for you.

Shocks design

Modern shocks have a unique design that compresses a gas or oil filled chamber and a piston, which moves within the chamber. Shocks are commonly used on passenger’s vehicles to absorb the ups and downs motion on the wheels. This unit is mounted between the wheels and the car frames. Installing the shock is direct, and you can also do it at home.  Although they can affect the functionality of your car, shock absorbers are installed on the outward, and they don’t meet with the vehicles steering system.

Struts design

Struts, on the other hand, they are inward structural components. A strut is among the most crucial parts in the steering system of the vehicle. It also affects the alignment angles of the car. Usually, the caster and camber angles of your car are adjusted from the strut.

Unlike shock absorber, strut contains a coil spring; therefore, when the need of replacing comes, you will have to replace the entire unit. Additionally, when replacing, your alignment is important to ensure your vehicle is in excellent condition all the time.

Due to the need for alignment, the price of a strut is more costly than that of the shock absorber.

How to check your shocks

When your shocks are worn out, they will affect the balance of your ride. Often, after hitting a bump or a pothole, you will experience uneven oscillation with ever motion. The springs will not spring back to get the car in its original position as when the shocks are new.

Additionally, you will experience challenges in controlling your car on harsh road conditions. Your ride will also not be as comfortable, and you will not enjoy smooth riding.

Which is best?

Often people are caught in between the two. A number of customers are confused about choosing between a strut and a shock. Some vehicles, however, have a design that features both suspensions.

Unfortunately, if your car has a particular design, you cannot change to the other. Therefore, you should not be misled on the possibilities of changing for another. However, if your vehicle uses the two, you must ensure you know which part hold on the front wheels and which goes for the rear.

Lastly, when you need replacing, it’s essential to seek help from a professional. Professionals will ensure to give you adequate information on the right replacement. Additionally, they will ensure to fit the right part to keep your vehicle secure and roadworthy.

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