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When to Replace Shocks and Struts

When to replace shocks and struts

If your car encounters front end dives when applying the brakes then it means front shocks or front strut is faulty. As you probably have guessed, this problem has nothing to do with the brakes themselves. Rather it typically points to the following suspension problem.

Reasons why to replace struts

(1) Faulty front shocks.
(2) Faulty front strut cartridges.

Car troubleshooting

Front shocks or front strut cartridges are worn or faulty. Before explaining this, we will need a little background info pertaining to front suspensions, the two key components of a front suspension are shocks and springs. On some cars, these two parts are separated from each other, on others they're integrated into a single unit called a "strut".

Struts Front Suspension

The "shock" portion of a strut is usually called a "strut cartridge" (also called a "damper"). In either case, the idea is the same - the spring absorbs bumps in the road and the shock or strut cartridge keeps the spring from "bouncing" too much (i.e. it restricts the contraction/movement of the spring).

Shock absorber of struts

Now, back to the specifics of this problem. When the driver applies the brakes, the vehicle's weight is "thrown" forward, onto the front end of the vehicle. The springs absorb this weight transfer but since the shocks/strut cartridges are worn/faulty, they're not effective in controlling the contraction of the springs. Consequently, the front end dives.

Car Pulls to the Right When Braking
When the car pulls to the right when braking, this problem points to something involving either, the front tires, front end, or front brakes. The rear tires, rear end, and rear brakes aren't really the factor here.
Learn more: Car Pulls to the Right When Braking

What to do?
First, you'll need to determine if this car has shocks or struts in the front. If shocks, have them replaced. However, don't let a mechanic replace the springs in addition to the shocks. Why? Because springs almost never wear out.

When to replace shocks?
You will know when to replace shocks by doing this simple test.

If this car has struts, you can either have the entire strut replaced or, in many cases, you'll be able to simply have the strut cartridges replaced. Call a local dealer's service department and ask if the front struts of the make/model in question have replaceable cartridges.

Since this problem isn't that hazardous, don't rush to the nearest garage in a panic. Shop around for the best price and, more importantly, find an AAA approved shop. Such shops tend to have a high customer satisfaction rate and if something does go wrong, the AAA will back you in resolving the dispute.

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