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More on car's suspension: the system explained

by Joem Autoparts Ltd.

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A shock absorber or damper is a mechanical or hydraulic device designed to absorb and dampen shock impulses. It does this by converting the kinetic energy of the shock into another form of energy (typically heat) which is then dissipated. Most shock absorbers are a form of dashpot (a damper which resists motion via viscous friction).

This way they keep the vehicle's wheels in contact with the road, ensure more accurate control and steering of the vehicle, and correct phasing (the up and down movement of the suspension).

Shock absorbers work in two cycles namely the compression cycle and the extension cycle.

When the wheel travels upwards causing the spring and shock absorber to shorten, the shock absorber is in the compression stroke. When the road wheel starts to move back down, the shock absorber is lengthened and is in the rebound or extension stroke.

Shock absorber is a common term used for all shocks with a variety of types. Most common are as follows:

Standard or conventional telescopic shock absorber

This is your most basic shock absorber type and it's often replaced, rather than repaired, when it's has been damaged or reached the end of its lifespan. 

McPherson struts.

The MacPherson strut is a type of automotive suspension system that uses the top of a telescopic damper as the upper steering pivot. It is widely used in the front suspension of modern vehicles and is named after the American automotive engineer Earle S. MacPherson, who invented and developed the design.

Spring seat shock absorber.

The spring seat type shows characteristics of both telescopic and strut type shock absorbers. Like struts, a spring seat shock is a suspension unit and damping device in a single unit. Unlike struts however, they are not designed to be subjected to high side loads. Built using similar components to conventional shock absorbers, spring seat shocks are also sealed, requiring full replacement.



This is the simplest form of shock absorber whereby the strut is dismantled, and the insert /cartridge is replaced.

Signs of worn shock absorbers 

Some warning signs you need to be aware of when it comes to shock absorber damage. Tell-tale signs of worn out shock absorbers include longer stopping distance and dipping and swerving of the vehicle when braking. 

Another sign of shock absorber damage is hearing a knocking or rattling sound in your vehicle. You might even notice uneven wear on your tyres.


Common Issues 

Shock absorbers are generally damaged when encountering large potholes or hitting curbs. This can lead to an oil leak.

Caring for your shock absorbers. 

Replacing your shocks at intervals will help keep your car performing as new, however choosing the right shocks can make a big difference. Equally, choosing a reputable brand, will give you peace of mind in the knowledge that you have a well proven product. 

Today the design and manufacture of shock absorbers is a high technology, precision industry.

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