Driving on worn-out shocks and struts can be difficult and stressful--but did you know it can also be seriously dangerous? Your car’s suspension system is one of its most important safety features and its struts and shocks do a majority of the work of keeping you and your passengers safe. Many people tend to think of deteriorated shocks as a comfort issue: a little extra bounce here, a few extra bumps there--but the reality is much more severe. Driving a car on shocks or struts no longer function as they are supposed to could put your safety in danger. Here are five of the ways in which tired shocks and struts can be potentially dangerous:
1. It will take longer for you to stop
The primary job of your car’s shocks is to absorb the force of the car against the road. One of the times this power is needed most is when the car is coming to a stop--especially a sudden or abrupt stop. While the brakes put force on the wheels to stop them, the job of bringing the rest of your vehicle’s 2,000 - 3,000 pounds to a halt is given to the suspension. As one can imagine, this is no easy task. When a car’s suspension system is performing as it is supposed to, this tremendous stopping ability can help motorists avoid most collisions. Modern safety systems save countless lives every day due to new materials, high-quality manufacturing and increasingly advanced engineering. Poorly functioning shocks have a drastically reduced ability to absorb the force of a vehicle coming to a stop. Therefore, the stopping ability of that car is dramatically reduced and the vehicle will take more distance to come to a complete stop. A study done by the RAC (Royal Automotive Club) showed that vehicles driving on 50% worn-out shocks took an average of 11.7% longer to stop than their fully-functional counterparts. At highways speeds that can be up to two car lengths, or easily the difference between safely avoiding a collision and risking serious injury.
2. You Can Lose Control During Acceleration
Rear-wheel drive cars generate a lot of torque when the car begins to accelerate. When a car’s suspension is functioning properly, the suspension absorbs this torque and redistributes it to the front wheels, allowing the car to accelerate evenly and safely. This can cause danger to the driver, passengers and others on the road. Once a car’s shocks are bad, it loses the ability to effectively distribute that force throughout the car and the rear wheels are left doing most of the work. With the torque of acceleration unevenly stacked towards the rear of the car, the wheels of a car with malfunctioning struts can lose contact with the road. This is known as “acceleration squat.” The loss of handling, especially when accelerating, can be a frightening and dangerous situation in any traffic conditions.
3. Your Handling Will Suffer
As part of its jobs of maintaining balance and absorbing force, your car’s suspension plays the primary role in determining its handling ability. A car’s suspension acts as sort of a middle man between the driver and the road, delivering feedback from each party to one another. It absorbs the stresses of the road and manages the instructions that the driver gives the car in terms of steering, acceleration and braking. Due to this vital role, it should come as no surprise that a car driving on worn-out struts loses a great deal of of its handling ability. Not only is this a loss of comfort and driving pleasure, it seriously impacts a car and its driver’s ability to navigate traffic, respond to road hazards and avoid danger. A car with reduced handling ability will not be able to respond as quickly to a need to change direction to avoid a potential collision or adverse road condition such as a pothole.
4. You Can Flip Over Much More Easily
Since the car’s suspension is tasked with keeping it balanced, it is especially important when it comes to turning. The basic physics of a large, heavy object like a car turning a corner at high speeds means a tremendous amount of weight is shifted to one side of the car. Without a good suspension system, a car would flip or roll over easily in a turning situation. As the struts on a car get older, drivers and passengers will notice that one side of the car might raise up higher than the other when the car turns at a higher speed. This is the beginning of what could quickly turn into a high-danger situation. If left unattended, that raising of one side of the car will eventually turn into a rollover, once the suspension can no longer effectively redistribute the weight of a vehicle going into a turn.
5. You’re Much More Likely to Swerve
Few things on the highway are as scary as going into a swerve--when the driver loses control of the steering and the car weaves on the road. Swerves can be caused by a number of external conditions--ice, wet surfaces, debris, and many more. However, unlike these types of external conditions, drivers can severely reduce the risk of a swerve by replacing their shocks and struts. A car driving on deteriorated struts is more likely to lose contact with the road at one or more points. This loss of contact can cause the car to behave unpredictably and go into a swerving action without warning. Worst of all, drivers often cause accidents in a swerving situation by over-correcting. This problem is made even worse by a car whose handling has been severely reduced by bad shocks.
Shop Strutmasters Parts
Replacing your struts is essential to keeping you, your family and your car safe. It also doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Strutmasters air-to-spring conversion kits deliver a high-performance, long-lasting replacement for your car’s struts and shocks at a fraction of the manufacturer’s price.
Shop for suspension parts for your specific make and model or call one of our suspension replacement experts today at 866-627-3842.