3 Things You Didn't Know About Shock Absorbers

Shock absorbers are a part of a car’s suspension system. Hidden beneath a car's wheel arches, they are out of plain sight, resulting in most car owners forgetting to check or maintain them. Inexperienced drivers often don’t even realise that they would need checking or replacing.

What is shocking is that most people are not aware of the danger of worn shocks and the safety risk they place themselves, their passengers, and other road users in. 

What do shocks do?

For starters, it may come as a shock to most of us that shock absorbers themselves do not absorb shocks. This is the function of the spring. 

The function of shock absorbers is to stop a car from bouncing up and down and does this by transferring the spring energy to the piston. This keeps the car’s tyres in constant contact with the road – an important safety feature because as a car turns corners or brakes to a stop, the shocks enable all of the four tyre’s to stay gripped to the surface. This is why when your shocks are worn you experience a rougher ride. 

Regardless of how new or how much tread your tyres may be, they will not be effective on their own when confronted with an emergency situation. Further risks associated with worn shocks could be:

  • Less ability to brake efficiently
  • Increased risk of skidding on wet surfaces
  • Less ability to control during cornering or crosswinds
  • Increase of tyre wear and suspension components
  • Poor handling and control

Are shocks and struts the same thing? 

Shock absorbers and struts both give you a smoother ride on the road, but they function differently. Depending on your vehicle it can have either or both components. 

These are a few of the key differences:

Shock absorbers 

  • Keeps your car from bouncing up and down
  • Secures the suspension to the car and controls vibration
  • Ensures stability for a more comfortable ride
  • Are relatively simple to replace


  • Supports the weight of a vehicle
  • Maintains a vehicle’s alignment – essential to steering
  • Is mounted to the chassis of a vehicle 
  • Are a vital structural part of the suspension system
  • Is mounted on the coil spring which maintains the height of the vehicle
  • Are relatively complicated and potentially hazardous to replace 
  • Have a longer lifespan

3 important things to know about shocks

  1. It’s the spring that absorbs actual shocks to the vehicle, the shocks help dampen them.
  2. While shocks and struts both provide a similar purpose, they are two very different types of components that perform in a different manner.  
  3. Driving with worn shocks can place your life in danger. If you start experiencing a bumpier ride or your car leaning more when turning corners, please have them checked by a professional.  

What to do when shocks are worn

Like any component in your car, shock absorbers deteriorate over time with normal wear and tear. However, road conditions play a big role in how much and how fast they deteriorate. Potholes impact the condition of your shocks as well as other parts of the car, and dirt, dust, mud, and other road debris can cause further damage. 

If your shocks need replacing, check whether the component is within the car’s warranty period. If the warranty has expired before the next service is due, visit a reputable auto fitment centre who complies with the RMI (Retail Motor Industry) code of conduct. 

A mechanical breakdown cover such as Auto Pedigree’s Component Cover can help protect against the cost of labour and parts incurred by a mechanical and electrical failure. Find out more about mechanical breakdown warranty when you buy a quality used car from Auto Pedigree – contact us on 010593 9505.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views and opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Auto Pedigree.