How to Buy Sport Shocks

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Shock absorbers help lessen the bumps you encounter while driving down the road. They do this by absorbing some of the energy created by driving across a rough patch of road, over speed bumps, or other road obstructions. The shock absorber compresses, dampening the energy generated. Sport shocks are designed for sporting drivers, improving handling and comfort. Before buying sport shocks, you need to learn about the different types, how they work, and when to replace them, in order to fully take advantage of all that they have to offer.

Part 1 of 2: When to replace your shocks

oil leaking around seals

Knowing when to replace your current shock absorbers is just as important as knowing which shocks to use. Drivers who know their vehicle well should have a good idea when it is time to buy a new set of shocks. Those who don't should look for specific signs in the performance of their vehicle while driving: including excessive bouncing, rocking, drifting, or swaying.

Step 1: Recognizing signs of worn shocks while driving. You should look for specific signs when driving that indicate your vehicle's shocks need replacing.

Some of the common signs that your shocks are worn include:

  • Swaying while changing lanes
  • Drifting to the left or right when traveling at high speeds
  • Rocking back and forth during stops
  • Bouncing three or more times when going through an intersection

Step 2: Recognizing signs of worn shocks while parked. In addition to showing certain characteristics while driving, you can also inspect your vehicle for signs that you need to replace your shocks while parked.

A sure way to tell if your shocks are worn is to look for the following:

Part 2 of 2: Decide on the type of sport shocks you want

When trying to decide on which sport shocks to purchase, you have a few different types to choose from. Your choices range from coil-over or strut cartridges to oil based or gas-charged shocks. When choosing sport shocks for your vehicle, you should also keep in mind what height of shock you are looking for: sport shocks sometimes lower a vehicle's ground clearance.

shock diagram

Step 1: Determine what type of sport shocks you need. Sport shocks come in a selection of types, ranging from MacPherson struts, to coil-over shocks, to strut cartridges.

MacPherson struts are compatible with a wide variety of make and models of vehicles. The shock absorber connects to the ball joint which, in combination with the MacPherson suspension's more simplistic design, gives more room in the engine compartment. MacPherson shocks are less expensive than some other sport shock types.

A coil-over shock incorporates a shock absorber wrapped with a coil spring. This gives the shock absorber even more stiffness and support, as the jolts and bumps of the road have to compress the spring in addition to the shock.

A strut cartridge inserts into the strut housing, and contains everything the shock absorber needs to muffle the bumps of the road. An inexpensive option, a strut cartridge is easily replaced if it becomes damaged or worn.

side view of standard gas charged shock absorber

Step 2: Determine whether you want oil-based or gas-charged shocks. When choosing a shock absorber for your vehicle, you must choose from the standard oil-based shock or the specially designed gas-charged shock absorber.

In the oil-based shock absorber, the cylinder is filled with hydraulic fluid that absorbs the pressure the vehicle places on the tube. The problem arises because of the air in the cylinder - up to ten percent - that foams as the load increases. This, in turn, reduces the damping power of the shock.

A gas-charged shock absorber contains nitrogen gas in one end. The nitrogen mixes with the hydraulic oil as the pressure increases, preventing foaming, and maintaining the absorbency of the shock.

Gas-charged shock absorbers are best if used to increase the stability, handling, and comfort of a vehicle, and work great for off-road applications. If your standard oil-filled shock absorbers give you no problems, then there is no need to switch.

Step 3: Determine which shock size you need. Another factor to keep in mind when choosing a sport shock is what effect it can have on the clearance of your vehicle.

Some sport shocks lower the clearance slightly, so you should make sure your vehicle will have enough clearance once installed. If you are unsure about your vehicle clearance levels, consult an expert mechanic for guidance.

Finding the right shocks for your vehicle is important. This process includes making sure you have the right type for your suspension system, the right height of shock to give you plenty of ground clearance, and whether you want oil-based or gas-charged shock absorbers. If you have reservations about replacing the shock absorbers in your vehicle, have one of our expert mechanics complete the job for you.


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YourMechanic Shock Absorber Replacement Service

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Number of Reviews

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Juan

11 years of experience
37 reviews
Juan
11 years of experience
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 - Shock Absorber Replacement (Front) - Walnut Creek, California
Juan was punctual, polite, and responsive. I watched his work processing and it was clear immediately that he is a pro. The work was finished promptly and correctly. I would not hesitate to request Juan again.
Honda Odyssey - Shock Absorber Replacement (Front, Rear) - Elk Grove, California
Juan was fantastic! He was on schedule, very knowledgeable about cars, and did a superb job on installing my struts and shocks. My van rides so much better now!

Kingsley

12 years of experience
29 reviews
Kingsley
12 years of experience
Ford Edge - Shock Absorber Replacement (Rear) - Euless, Texas
Kingsley was great. He was on time, and even worked through the rain to get the job done. So polite and efficient. I would absolutely book him again.

Brian

22 years of experience
99 reviews
Brian
22 years of experience
Toyota FJ Cruiser - Shock Absorber Replacement (Rear) - Frederick, Maryland
My first time using the site "YourMechanic," and an excellent experience. Brian texted and arrived early for the rear shock replacement. Following a quick introduction he got right to work. Brian's professional, and knowledgeable. He had all the tools required to complete the work. Some minor difficulty removing one of the shocks, to be expected with 12 year old original shocks, and he finished within the quoted time. YourMechanic saved me approximately $250.00 over the dealer quote. I'll definitely use YourMechanic again.

Joaquin

3 years of experience
95 reviews
Joaquin
3 years of experience
Hyundai Veracruz - Shock Absorber Replacement (Rear) - Plano, Texas
great job, very prompt, explained all that needed to be done and why. would certainly ask for his services again. Bill

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