Owning a car is sometimes a stressful undertaking; we usually don’t realize how much money and effort is involved in owning one until we are faced with our first big repair or maintenance service bill. Luckily, there are many auto mechanics who have excellent reputations for producing honest, trustworthy work while keeping funds at a minimum for their customers. While these are few and far between, likely there is one close by you that will provide excellent service. When your car starts to act up, or you notice a change in its driving, the first thing you should do is pay close attention to how your car is performing; if you notice any questionable noises or odd reactions, you should bring your car into a trusted automotive center which can help diagnose the problem. The most important thing is to stay on top of any odd behavior your car undergoes, because the sooner you catch an issue, then the less you will end up paying for repairs. If you wait too long, sometimes a chain reaction occurs where multiple parts need to be replaced or repaired due to prolonged service.
Vibration in the steering wheel
One of the most commonly diagnosed issues with car repairs is a bad shock absorber. Shock absorbers are exactly what the name states they are: they absorb the movement of the vehicle to make the ride as smooth as possible, while protecting other vital parts of the car from violently jerking and bouncing around at all times. Shock absorbers themselves are relatively affordable parts; however, the price of the part will depend on the type of vehicle you own. There are symptoms and warning signs that one should keep an eye out for; it is important to detect an issue with shock absorbers earlier to prevent further damage to other parts of the vehicle, making the mechanic trip even more costly. Generally one of the first warning signs will be vibration in the steering wheel—more so than usual. Vibrating in the steering wheel means that your shock absorbers are no longer taking on the vibrations and bumps in the road throughout your drive. Depending on the severity of the symptom, a vibrating steering wheel can be difficult to control at higher speeds.
Rattling noise & abnormal bouncy ride
Another symptom of deteriorated shock absorbers is a rattling noise or an abnormally bouncy ride. This symptom may be particularly noticeable when you are going over potholes, speed bumps, or hilly roads. This is one of the more severe signs of shock absorber erosion. If your car is abnormally rocky or bumpy feeling, it is critical to take it into a trusted mechanic for an immediate inspection—this could be putting unnecessary pressure or friction on other car parts which can easily become damaged by the shock absorbers failing to adequately do their job. Upon further investigation, you may also notice uneven tire wear. Your tire wear says a lot about how your car is driving, and can be a diagnostic feature for mechanics to figure out what area of your car is experiencing an issue and is in need of repair. When your tires wear unevenly, it can be a hazard in and of itself.
Increase in braking distance
Another feature, and perhaps the most dangerous, of bad shock absorbers, is an increase in braking distance. When you notice your braking distance has suddenly increased, it may not always be an issue related to the brakes. As you know from driver’s education courses, the faster your car is going, the more braking distance you need between you and the car in front of you. When your shock absorbers begin to fail and you have not yet correctly accounted for this malfunction, it can cause a serious accident. Rear-ending the person in front of you is an automatic at-fault accident that will likely affect your car insurance rates. Staying on top of preventive maintenance is important for several reasons: safety, efficiency, and cost; your car will be safer the more often mechanics inspect it, it will be more efficient in its use of fuel, and it will end up costing you less in the long run with insurance claims or other damaged parts in need of repair. Do yourself a favor and bring your car in for a shock absorber inspection; it will be a good opportunity to have other preventive maintenance performed.