Your car’s suspension and steering systems, require specialized knowledge and tools for many repairs such as replacing gearing, rods, and joints. However, there are one or two jobs that the handy car owner can do. One car suspension repair job is to replace shock absorbers and/or struts.
A shock absorber (right) is a sealed cylinder that uses hydraulic fluid to dampen a wheel’s up-and-down movement caused by driving over bumps in the road. A strut (below) combines the shock absorber and a dampening spring, typically used on front-wheel-drive cars.
The function of shock absorbers is self-explanatory. However, struts don’t strut. They are actually a shock absorber wrapped with a coil spring. Both shocks and struts should be changed as a unit; don’t try to repair them.
Shocks and struts are vertical members behind each wheel. You’ll see them as you inspect or repair your car’s brake system. Installation is relatively easy:
1. Carefully loosen and remove bolts at the top and bottom of the unit.
2. Remove the unit and take to an auto parts store for an exact replacement.
3. Install the new shock absorber and strut in reverse order.
Caution: You’ll be installing springy-parts under a ton-plus car. Make sure that the car is securely on stands and that you can safely install the shocks or struts. Otherwise, hire a shock shop.
That’s the basics of car suspension repair.