Expert Advice | 9 Signs When To Replace Shocks And Struts

Here are 9 signs when to replace shocks and struts. I made it easy to understand and easy to check.

I spent most of my career in the automotive industry and road safety. I recommend for your safety to check these 9 signs when to replace shocks and struts.

I also recommend for your money to check these 9 signs. Small problems with shocks and struts will turn into big problems and more expensive repairs if not repaired or replaced as soon as they occur. Keep in mind that everything in your car is connected.

Most online articles on when to replace shocks and struts lack simple explanations and clear safety impact. I set out to fix that.

Here are the 9 signs:

#1: Mileage Over 50 000 Miles
#2: Steering Wheel Vibrations
#3: Excessive Body Roll
#4: Nose-Diving Sensation When Braking
#5: Excessive Bounce On Bumpy Rides
#6: Car Veers In Crosswinds
#7: Uneven Tire Wear
#8: Noticeable Fluid Leakage
#9: Dented Or Damaged Housing

Do not hesitate to consult a local qualified professional.

Keep reading to find out when to replace shocks and struts. 

#1: Mileage Over 50 000 Miles

In most cases, every 50 000 miles is a trigger to consider

Indeed, it’s not an exact number, but it’s a number to be aware of. Your manner and driving style will impact the lifespan of your shocks and struts. In most cases, every 50 000 miles is a trigger to consider. [1]

Sign Type

Visual.

How To Check?

Read the mileage on your dashboard. 

Safety Impact

Shocks and struts are part of your car’s suspension system. So, when shocks or struts go bad, you will lose control over your vehicle as you drive. Thus, you cannot stop at the right safety distances, and you can cause or be involved in an accident.

#2: Steering Wheel Vibrations

Do you feel vibrations when you drive above 60 mph?

Worn shocks and struts can no longer hold the tire to the road. When you drive above 60 mph, the tire can start bouncing up and down, causing steering wheel vibrations. [2]

Sign Type

Feeling. 

How To Check?

Drive at a speed above 60 mph. 

Safety Impact

Steering wheel vibrations state serious problems related to wheels, tires, suspension, and brakes. When they go bad, you lose control of your car and increase the chances of accidents.

#3: Excessive Body Roll

Do you feel excessive body roll when you make fast or sharp turns?

While turning into a corner, your car leans, and its weight is thrown to the outside of the corner. Over time, shocks and struts can lose their damping ability, which reduces their capacity to respond to weight transfer in corners. The result is an excessive body roll (or lean). [3]

Sign Type

Feeling. 

How To Check? 

While driving, make fast or sharp turns. 

Safety Impact 

Excessive body roll slows the ability of your car to turn and may cause a scary feeling. Any factor that implies less control of your drive will increase the probability of accidents.

#4: Nose-Diving Sensation When Braking

Do you feel unusual nose-diving when you apply hard brakes?

When you drive and apply brakes, the weight of your car is transferred to the front. This leads the front shocks or struts to compress and the rear ones to expand. If your struts or shocks fail, you will experience more nose diving than usual. [4

Sign Type

Feeling. 

How To Check? 

Simulate situations when you need to apply hard brakes while driving (a driver in front of you stopped short, or something darted in front of your car). 

Safety Impact 

Unusual nose-diving may increase the braking time and a potential loss of steering ability. If you drive at a speed of 70 mph (113 km/h), your car will bypass the stopping distance by 22 feet (6.7 m).

#5: Excessive Bounce On Bumpy Rides

Do you feel excessive bounce on bumpy rides or rough surfaces?

When you drive over bumps and potholes, your car should stabilize after one or two rebounds. Good shocks and struts control the bouncing spring and assist your tires being glued to the road. Otherwise, excessive bounce on such bumpy rides must lead you to check your shocks and struts. [5]

Sign Type

Feeling. 

How To Check? 

Drive over bumps or rough surfaces. Hit bumps or potholes and notice if your vehicle will settle or will continue to bounce. 

Safety impact 

Excessive bounce on bumpy rides or rough surfaces prevents you from full control of your car. It is also disconcerting for you as a driver and for the persons who may be with you in your ride journey. Keep in mind that any kind of control loss increases accident chances.

#6: Car Veers In Crosswinds

Do you feel that your car veers in crosswinds?

When you drive in windy conditions, your shocks and struts keep your car stable. But, if your car veers in crosswinds, it’s a vital sign that your shocks and struts are losing their damping ability, which causes your vehicle to be less stable. [6]

Sign Type

Feeling. 

How To Check? 

Drive in windy conditions or past a large truck and notice if your car rocks back and forth. 

Safety Impact 

If your car veers in crosswinds, it means you can be out of control at any moment. You can cause or be involved in an accident. 

#7: Uneven Tire Wear

Do you see any unusual or uneven tire wear?

Bad shocks or struts lead to poor suspension geometry and affect your car’s alignment. Such a situation affects tires and causes uneven or premature tire wear. [7]

Sign Type

Visual. 

How To Check? 

Inspect each tire by checking the presence of any unusual or uneven tread wear. 

Safety Impact 

Tires are a crucial component in stopping at the right time and steering in the right direction. Unusual or uneven tire wear reduces the longevity of your tire and compromises the braking and traction performance. When tires can’t grip the road, you may lose control of your car.

#8: Noticeable Fluid Leakage

Do you see any noticeable fluid leakage on the body of your shocks and struts?

Over time, grit and dirt can harm and compromise your car’s piston seal, which may cause noticeable fluid leakage. Such a situation will, for sure, impair the ability of your shocks or struts to control your vehicle. [8.1, 8.2]

Sign Type

Visual. 

How To Check? 

Inspect the body of your shocks and struts and look for any discoloration or excessive grime and dirt. 

Safety Impact 

Noticeable fluid leakage is a sure visible sign that your shocks or struts are going bad and can stop working without enough oil. Driving becomes dangerous and increases the likelihood of an accident.

#9: Dented Or Damaged Housing

Do you see any dented or damaged housing of your shocks or struts?

Dented or damaged housing of your shocks and struts is a strong visible sign that your shocks and struts are going bad. In most cases, such a situation will affect other suspension parts, making them hard to operate and lead to premature wear. [9]

Sign Type

Visual. 

How To Check? 

Inspect your shocks and struts housing, including other suspension parts (spring seats, the upper area of the strut tube, accessory brackets attached to the strut, boot, and bumper). 

Safety Impact 

Dented or damaged housing of your shocks or struts is another visible sign that your shocks and struts are going bad and might need to be replaced. If you drive in such conditions, you do not have full control of your car, and chances are very high to cause or be involved in an accident.

The Bottom Line

Shocks and struts are critical parts of your car suspension system. For your safety and your money-saving, you have to inspect them regularly. The 9 signs above are a great help. I recommend consulting a local qualified professional to fix or replace your shocks or struts as soon as possible.

Do you want to learn more about shocks and struts? Check out our guide on struts vs shocks and learn the commonalities and differences between shocks and struts.