Many car owners wonder how long the shock absorbers are going to last on their vehicles, but the answer to this question isn’t an easy one to answer. For one, there are several variables to consider, such as how many miles the vehicle is driven each day, what roads it rides on, and how the car is treated while driving. For example, some owners drive gently while others stomp the gas pedal, slam the brakes, and do other reckless things.
With all those variables, it’s virtually impossible to determine how many years or miles your shock absorbers are going to last. It’s also important to understand that some vehicles have struts instead of shock absorbers. Struts work on a strut-style suspension, which incorporates the shocks into the assembly using suspension parts, like springs.
Regardless, most people still want to know how long the struts or shock absorbers are going to last, and most professionals of the industry estimate that they can last up to five years unless you put your car through extreme use. Many times, however, the shocks and struts can last up to 10 years before requiring replacement, especially if you treat your vehicle right, keep it on smooth pavement, and drive it gently.
What Causes Wear
While regular driving and careful driving do cause wear and tear, it’s more gradual and takes longer. If you drive on rough roads with large cracks, potholes, or sharp ridges along the pavement, the car is likely to bounce up and down a lot and can cause the shocks to wear out faster. Shocks can also be called dampers since they reduce the bounce or dampen it.
Other issues can include carrying heavy loads with the vehicle or driving frequently on unpaved roads that have large rocks or deep divots. Along with such, the speed at which you drive on unpaved or bumpy roads can also affect the lifespan of your shocks. If you tend to take bumps at the same speeds as asphalt driving, it can cause significant damage to the shocks. The devil-may-care attitude might give you an exhilarating ride, but remember that you’re hurting your shocks every time you do so.
Another issue – and one that most car owners don’t think about – is that road salt and winter weather can also shorten your shock absorber’s lifespan. Road salt is well-known for being corrosive; most professionals in the industry recommend washing the vehicle after the snow and ice are gone to remove that build-up. However, a regular car wash can’t get to the shock absorbers of your car. In fact, nothing can really clean the road salt from the shocks.
Instead of focusing on a particular mileage or time to replace the struts and shocks, it’s best to use the timing and mileage as a guide. If you haven’t had suspension issues by that time or mileage, you may want to consider going to a trusted mechanic to get the suspension system inspected for damage, wear, and leaks.
While many manufacturers of the parts claim to replace them every 50,000 miles, a better rule of thumb is to have the suspension and shocks inspected at 50,000 miles and then every year after that. The inspection can uncover which parts need to be replaced if any.
If you notice that you feel the bumps more than you used to, it might be an indication to have the suspension inspected. Along with such, you may notice more sway than normal or a porpoising motion when driving over wavy surfaces. If you start bottoming out over railroad tracks when you never did before, it’s also a sign to have your shocks checked.