Shock Absorbers & Suspension Systems

October 17, 2011  

Even the most basic understanding of your car’s suspension system, specifically the shock absorbers can help you determine if you are having a problem. The Everett Suspension Experts at Carson Cars can diagnose and repair any problems you may be having with the handling of your car. By determining whether the problem is related to the suspension system in general, or the shock absorbers in particular, can not only improve the quality of your car’s handling, but can save you money on unnecessary repair bills.

How Shock Absorbers Convert Energy

The science of the shock absorber is based on the law of energy conservation:

  • Law of the Conservation of Energy – in essence, the law states that energy can be neither created nor destroyed, it can only be converted (changed). Regarding shock absorbers, the kinetic energy created by the cycling suspension in converted to heat.
  • Kinetic Energy – is energy in motion; regarding shock absorbers, the energy is created by the motion of the suspension moving up and down as you drive your car.
  • Potential Energy – is stored energy. Regarding shock absorbers, the energy is stored in the springs. Think golf ball: as it sits on the tee, waiting to be hit by the golf club, the ball has potential (stored) energy. When the ball is hit with the golf club, the potential energy is converted to kinetic energy.

Why Does My Car Need Shock Absorbers?

The sole purpose of the shock absorber is to reduce the amount the suspension system compresses and rebounds. Additionally, the shock absorbers controls the cycling speed of the suspension system. With nothing to absorb the shock of your car as you travel down any terrain, your vehicle will continue to bounce until the kinetic energy is dissipated.

Keeping the law of the conservation of energy in mind, the shock absorbers:

  1. Slow the compression/rebound cycle of the suspension system
  2. Absorb the kinetic energy by converting that energy into heat

Different Types of Shock Absorbers

Depending on the specific design requirements of your vehicle, Carson Cars’ Suspension Experts can determine the best shock absorber for your vehicle. There are a variety of shock absorbers available on the market:

Twin-Tube Shocks: considered “standard”, the twin-tube shock is the most basic shock absorber on the market. Generally less expensive to make, this type shock absorber offers the least consistent absorption compared to other shocks.

Coil-Over Shocks: an additional spring, added to the outside of the absorber, increases the spring rate of the absorber.

Gas Pressurized Shocks: provides superior consistency in operation. Generally used for extreme driving conditions to eliminate the possibility of the oil froth that occurs in standard shock absorbers.

Other, more precise, expensive shock absorbers are available, but not terribly practical for daily driving. The Everett Shock Absorber Experts at Carson Cars will be more than happy to help determine the most cost effective shock absorber to suit your vehicle and your regular driving conditions.

Shock Absorber Maintenance

Generally, shock absorbers should be inspected at 25,000 miles and every 15,000 after. With regular inspection/replacement, you will avoid more severe damage to the suspension system of your car. Check your Owner’s Manual for manufacturer recommendations for maintenance intervals for your specific vehicle.