How do you know when shocks need to be replaced?

Messages
530
Location
Atlanta, GA
Is there a mileage marker or car age at which time shocks should be replaced on a car -- or at least checked thoroughly? Or is this something you just determine by feel on the road - i.e. feeling potholes or bumps more and more? I don't do any off roading and am not really interested in modding my car to be something it isn't. The roads here are pretty good with an occasional pothole or bump or two giving my butt a bit of a knock. Short of a trustworthy mechanic giving me sound advice, how can I tell if the shocks on either of my cars need to be replaced? Thanks.
 
Messages
8,598
Location
Florida
Oil leaks Severe nose dive when braking The back of the car goes way up when braking The back of the car goes way down when you floor the gas pedal Car bounces like a bobblehead doll over bumps Tires get weird wear patterns that don't look like underinflation on misalignment wear And sometimes the car making clunking noise over bumps if the mounts and bushings on the shock/strut have worn out.
 
Messages
2,201
Location
socal
Don't rely on the bounce test. I tried it and no indication that the struts neeed replacing. I removed one and it was done, had to replace them. Artificialist has all the symptoms listed.
 
Messages
10,729
Location
MA
I think the standard answer from the shocks company is anywhere from 50-60k but I've gotten 80-90k out of a set with mostly highway miles. Even if they're not completely gone, it might be worth replacing them, did my struts again not too long ago and the handling is crisper and response is better. It's harder to control a car while it's bouncing up and down.
 
Messages
115
Location
saginaw michigan
I had never replaced struts until my 1997 Malibu had a coil spring rust and break. I was going to replace both sides in the back with the easy-strut and the shop had a Monroe special so it wasnt a whole lot more to do the whole car. 111k miles at the time. I now have 135k on the car and it improved the ride and handling to the point I hate to get rid of the car. Michigan is real hard on struts and shocks. Honestly I think you can get away with just replacing the leaking strut and if youre ok with that, you will save some money. If youre going to keep the car a few more years its worth it to get new shocks/struts all around. They usually are stiffer. YMMV
 
Messages
1,848
Location
FEMA Region 4
Originally Posted By: artificialist
Oil leaks Severe nose dive when braking The back of the car goes way up when braking The back of the car goes way down when you floor the gas pedal Car bounces like a bobblehead doll over bumps Tires get weird wear patterns that don't look like underinflation on misalignment wear And sometimes the car making clunking noise over bumps if the mounts and bushings on the shock/strut have worn out.
^^^ As good as it gets.
Originally Posted By: Pajamarama
OK, one more newbie question: Is it necessary or best to replace all 4 struts/shocks at once, or can you do only front or back?
I would do both. I like to do all components at the same time. If Im doing a brake job Ill do front and back. If I have an oxygen sensor go bad, Ill change out all of them, etc. In my experience it is just good practice.
 
Last edited:

Pajamarama

Thread starter
Messages
530
Location
Atlanta, GA
Thanks everyone for your answers. There's 100k on my Taurus wagon and sometimes I wish it handled better -- less road bumpiness, better maneuverability, less steering wheel jitteriness (sometimes). Then again it's a wagon and will never be a sports car. Maybe when money's not so tight I can replace the struts/shocks since I'm going to keep this car for a while.
 
Messages
9,736
Location
Ontario, Canada
Really worn out shocks have a tire bouncing like a basketball on really broken up pavement. This shows up easily when turning moderately hard on a rough road, as the tire won't grip with so little time on the road. I've still got the original front struts in the Tracker and they are still acceptable on choppy roads, I hopefully won't have to replace them before the vehicle is done.
 
Messages
141
Location
So. Cal
When I sold auto parts for a living I attended a seminar on shocks and struts put on by Monroe. The best test they gave us was to drive the car a few miles and check the temperature. A shock or strut that is working will be warmer because dampening causes heat, bypassing fluid will not.
 
Messages
681
Location
Northern Virginia
Originally Posted By: dblshock
200k and going strong on the Accord.
When I got rid of my old Civic with 213k,the shocks were original. No bouncing, no uneven tire wear. I kept waiting for the day I'd see a symptom, but it never came.
 
Messages
17
Location
New Orleans
Rule of thumb is every 50K, some don't make it that long, some go longer. I'd your feeling more bounce, more body roll, plenty driving when braking hard or a not so planted feeling when driving I would replace them. I'm a big fan of Bilsteins. Wayne
 
Messages
1,847
Location
Laramie, WY
Originally Posted By: VicVinegar
Originally Posted By: dblshock
200k and going strong on the Accord.
When I got rid of my old Civic with 213k,the shocks were original. No bouncing, no uneven tire wear. I kept waiting for the day I'd see a symptom, but it never came.
00 civic with 320kish miles when i got rid of it, original suspension except cv axles, the buyer thought I had installed brand new struts/shocks. It drove like a dream, much better then my current 96 civic though they are suppose to be the same cars... I have bumpiness (barely but it exist) in the 96 civic but it handles like a dream, I wonder if it is the so called "double wish bone suspension" or Honda suspension setup is really that good. I'm confused to replace them with what brand? I'm thinking OEM Honda just because how amazing my 00 civic was and how well this civic has performed, any suggestions? please no "OMG LOWER YOUR CAR AND YOU CAN BE AWESOME" suggestions.
 
Messages
802
Location
western ny, usa
Bounce test is worthless according to a rockauto.com newsletter article. Struts have 3 valves, when you bounce test you activate the valve that gets used the least. The first two valves get most of use and wear out quicker. Posted the article in article section months ago.
 
Messages
17,921
Location
NH
Last time I took my Jetta to the shop for inspection they failed it for bad struts. I'm 99% sure they didn't drive it. Yet I got to inspect the struts afterwards, and yep, zero resistance. RMA'd them, Koni replaced, so they were dead. How did the shop know? I'll have to ask next time I go, I guess. [Unfortunately the shop put the struts back in at full soft, so I honestly can't tell any difference in how it rides.] One thing I've noticed on my car, might only be my car, but when the struts were at the end, if I were to brake moderately hard for a light, and come to a full stop, and wait for the car to level off, wait a few seconds, then let off the brake (manual trans) I could feel the car drop in the rear. Normally I'd think suspension bushings but both times it went away with new struts.
 
Messages
6,014
Location
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
I can tell by driving the car. Of course, of they are leaking then they need to be replaced as well. Just replaced a pair on my beater because when one leaks, it can get water in it which them freezes in the winter and the ride is really harsh!
 
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