How do I know when my shocks or struts needs to be replaced?

This is kind of a trick question, because the real answer is, "You should probably leave that to your mechanic." Shocks and struts aren’t like wiper blades–there’s no surefire way to determine when they’re spent. Accordingly, your first line of defense is taking your car in for an annual suspension inspection. Have a trusted technician thoroughly investigate your shocks and/or struts for signs of failure.

Now, if you’ve been really neglectful on the service front, it’s possible that you’ll notice some symptoms yourself. We mentioned the bouncing: if your car starts to do anything remotely like that, you’ve got serious shock or strut issues. Another symptom can be a hard ride, although that may have more to do with the springs. Finally, if your car suddenly starts swaying at highway speeds or wallowing around corners, that could indicate worn shocks or struts as well. But like we said, the best practice is to be proactive and have your mechanic check things out on a regular basis.

Why can’t I just wait until my shocks or struts are totally busted?

That’s never a good idea, honestly, but it’s an especially bad idea when we’re talking about vital suspension components like shocks and struts. If you come away from this article having learned one lesson, let it be this: shocks and struts are not simply about giving your car a smooth ride! They’re not luxury items; rather, they are integral to car control, so when they fail, your car becomes a hazard to both yourself and other drivers. Be smart, be safe, and please, replace your shocks and struts whenever necessary.

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