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Front struts and front shock absorbers are often mistaken for each other. In reality, they serve the same role, but are different parts, and your car has one or the other. Shock absorbers are responsible for…well…absorbing shock. Shocking, right? Sorry, horrible pun. Struts serve the same purpose, but in a slightly different manner. Your car is subject to a lot of harsh movements, such as potholes, speedbumps, and imperfections in the road. There’s also stress from the pull of the car as you go around turns, accelerate, or slow down. So, the front struts and shock absorbers take a lot of that movement and absorb it, which keeps it from ending up in your cabin, bugging you, or damaging other components on your car. So, let’s start with the front shock absorbers. The shock absorbers are placed above the wheels and connect to the suspension and the frame of the car. They essentially are cylinders with a piston in them, as well as some gas or oily liquid. As your car bounces up and down, the piston in the shock absorbers does the same, with the liquid or gas absorbing much of the impact. That keeps the frame of the car from absorbing it, which keeps your butt from absorbing it. Hopefully we can agree that that’s a good thing. Unlike shock absorbers, front struts help hold up the weight of the car. They’re built into the suspension system, and often into the steering system as well. The function in similar ways to shock absorbers, and often have shock absorbers in them. They just also help support the car, and often act as a pivot for the steering knuckle, which helps your car steer. Older cars have front shock absorbers, while many new cars have front struts and rear shock absorbers. You can probably guess that struts and shock absorbers get a lot of use, so they can wear out over time.
Let me guess: You don’t really pay attention to your scheduled maintenance and robably have never even opened up your car’s manual. Who needs it, anyway? Guess what? You do. Front struts aren’t really a part of scheduled maintenance, but on some cars, front shock absorbers are. If this is the case with your car, the manufacturer’s maintenance will suggest that you replace the shock absorbers every now and again as a preventative measure.
Hopefully, I don’t have to tell you that your car shouldn’t be leaking. Your car uses a lot of different fluids, and as a result, a lot of different things can leak. If you notice a leak coming from your car, it could be a number of different things. Front struts and shock absorbers aren’t the most common elements in your car to cause leaks, but both can be the result of some unwanted fluid accumulation due to leaking hydraulic fluid.
Have you been paying any attention? If so, then you know that front struts and shock absorbers play the role of absorbing shock before it makes it to your tailbone. So, if the struts or shock absorbers fail, there’s a good chance that it will feel like driving over a pile road full of marbles. Might sound fun if you’re a child, but you’re hopefully an adult, and that should be less fun.
All right, same deal as with the leaks: I shouldn’t have to tell you that weird noises are a bad sign. And while they’re more likely to be coming from something else in your car, they can be the result of front struts or shock absorbers that aren’t coming in to work today. Usually busted struts or shock absorbers will result in a knocking noise any time you drive over bumps or holes in the road. However, you might also hear a popping noise when you’re turning. Either way, just listen to your car when it starts talking to you.
If your shock absorbers or struts aren’t doing their jobs then the tires will deal with excess wear and tear, and it will result in uneven or abnormal wear. Always keep an eye out for tires that aren’t wearing normally. You want to get that taken care of before anything worse happens.
Front struts are often part of a car’s steering system, which means that if they begin to fail, the steering will be compromised. If struts start to go, the steering in your car will feel a little bit loose, like you don’t have as much control as you should. Fun in Mario Kart. Not fun in real life.
If your brakes aren’t getting the job done, it’s probably a problem with the brakes, not with something else. But it can also be due to busted front struts or shock absorbers. If they’re not doing their job, the car will bounce a bit when it tries to brake, which limits the efficiency of the brakes.
Your car is still safe to drive short distances when the front struts or shock absorbers begin to go. However, they’re only going to cause more problems down the road, so don’t procrastinate. No good will come of it. Get your front struts or shock absorbers replaced asap.
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