Suspension and Shock Diagnosis

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I once had the opportunity to ride in the most amazing car – it cost more than most California houses.  It had every bell and whistle you can imagine; seats that adjust to your body curves and recline with a foot rest at a touch of a button, subtle recessed overhead lighting color-customized to the driver’s preference, auto climate control and multi-zone air conditioning, customized to driver as well – it was like being in a first class cabin aboard an airplane.

And the ride? Felt as smooth as a plane ride as well. And the ride was all because of a superior suspension system.

The suspension system of car ensures that friction between the tires and the road surface is maximized. This provides steering stability – ​offering good handling, braking and control, and optimum comfort for the passengers. Nowadays, having good suspension on your car is more important than ever.  Because of the large volume of traffic on freeways and streets these days, keeping up with repair of roads has become an impossibility. At any time, anywhere, you’re likely to encounter large bumps and potholes while driving. Unless you’re on an off roading adventure, bouncing up and down while navigating a road is not a fun experience – not to mention tough on your car, as well.

Shocks and Suspension


Shock absorbers are basically hydraulic (oil) pump-like devices that help control the impact and the resulting rebound movement of your car’s springs and suspension. A shock absorber is composed of pistons, rods and other components which work to make your car’s ride as smooth as possible.


When the vehicle’s suspension moves up and down, the hydraulic fluid is forced through tiny holes inside the piston. These holes only allow a small amount of fluid through the piston and this results in the piston being slowed down. This in turn results in slowing down of the spring and suspension movement. Shock absorbers are specifically engineered to automatically adjust to road conditions. When roads become bumpy, the suspension will move faster and shock absorbers will adjust to provide more resistance.

Because of the very vital role it plays on vehicle safety by balancing and stabilizing your car so is its safer and more comfortable to drive, it is important to keep your car suspension system in good condition.


What are the signs that you need to be looking out for that your shock absorbers need maintenance and repair? Look for these telltale signs:

Long stopping distance

Having worn shock absorbers on your vehicle can increase your stopping distance by up to 20%. As you increase your travelling speed this will also increase the distance it takes your vehicle to completely stop. This 20% extra distance can be enough to cause a fatal incident and should be attended to as soon as possible.

Swerving & nose-dives

If your car dips or swerves when braking, you need to have your shock absorbers checked. Dipping or swerving while braking decreases your control over your car. This is dangerous, especially if road conditions are slippery and wet.


Your shocks should keep your tires in constant contact with the road and if they’re working properly, you should not be able to feel any vibrations. At high speeds vibrations become dangerous as they become more intense as you go faster. Again, this decreases control over your vehicle.

Car sliding & veering

You will notice this in mild winds when you have to do a lot of correcting to prevent your car sliding or veering across the road. This is a good indicator that your shocks are worn and need replacing.

Rocking & rattling

A little shaking when you hit a bump is probably fine but if your car shakes, rattles and rolls a lot over uneven surfaces or railway tracks, it is likely that your shocks are already worn. Aside from an extremely uncomfortable ride, this puts a lot of pressure on other car components and will hasten the depreciation of your car if you don’t attend to it at once.

Uneven tire wear

Bald patches or uneven tire wear are also signs that your suspension system needs maintenance.

You don’t need to be a mechanic to spot these telltale signs. And the earlier you notice these, the sooner you would be able to have your vehicle’s suspension checked and repaired.

At American Auto Care, we will diagnose the problem, explain what we found, and what the repair options are. Call us at 951-461-2507 to schedule an appointment for car repair in Murrieta, Ca or Schedule An Appointment Online.