Top 8 Signs and Symptoms of Bad Shock Absorbers

Symptoms of Bad Shock Absorbers (Answered )

Excessive Bouncing, Swerving, Nose-diving while braking, Uneven tire wear, Broken bushing, Swerving are the top and main symptoms of bad shock absorbers.

Having an uncomfortable ride with your vehicle? Maybe the safe-driving troops are not working properly. Yes, we are talking about your vehicle’s shock absorbers. The shocks are there to maintain a safe drive for you. If you are experiencing an uncomfortable ride, most probably the shocks are not in a good shape.

Symptoms of Worn or Failing Shock Absorbers

In this article, we are going to portray the symptoms of bad shock absorbers along with some remedies to keep things calm a little longer. Stay till the end.

What are the symptoms of a bad shock absorber?

At first, you need to have a clear idea about how the shock absorbers function. This will help you understand the symptoms better. The main purpose of a shock absorber is to keep the tires calm and down on rough roads. Thus it helps to maintain the overall control for a driver.

The design of shocks and struts are the same. But their work is different. The struts take the weight of the whole vehicle on them. And the shocks link the suspension parts. There are various ways by that you can tell the shocks are not in a good shape. Let’s have a look.

1. Trouble in braking

You are going to have trouble with the braking. The braking will take more time than usual. It happens mainly because the shocks are not functioning properly. Because of this, the vehicle can’t brake properly and takes extra time to do the braking. Generally, the vehicle becomes unable to take up rod length and that’s what causes the trouble in braking.

2. Nose-diving while braking

What does it mean by nose-diving? Nose diving means the vehicle jumps a little farther than your anticipated point while you brake the vehicle. If there is something wrong with the shock absorbers, the vehicle can’t control the overall weight and thus creates nose-diving while braking.

3. Vibration

What happens inside the vehicle when you experience a bit more vibration than the usual while driving? If the shocks wear out, the piston seal or the valve inside the shock may not stay in order. For this reason, fluid may flow in an uncontrolled way causing an overreaction to your actions while driving.

4. Uneven tire wear

Well, the bad shocks are not the sole reason for uneven wear. But if you see an uneven shape in the tires, you may perform an inspection to know the actual reason. Basically, the worn shocks can’t keep the tires firmly on a road. That is why the outside part of the tire will be in an uneven shape than the inside part due to continuous friction with different surfaces. And thus, it will create uneven tire wear.

5. Leaks

If there are any leaks causing less lubrication in the shocks, the shocks won’t perform well. And it will cause you uncomfortable rides as the shocks are not doing their job. For example, if the seal of the shocks gets leaked, the leaking fluids will get scattered and won’t reach the shock absorbers. And then it won’t be possible for the shocks to do their job perfectly.

6. Rear Squats

The rear of the vehicle may squat also due to a bad performing shock absorber. Unlike nose-diving which happens during braking, the rear will squat while hitting the gas pedal. If the rear of your vehicle squats, you definitely want to do an inspection to know if the shocks are in good shape.

7. Swerving

Aged and worn shocks are not really good things to keep. If they get old, they can’t perform up to their mark. Along with vibration, your vehicle will sway uncontrollably in the strong winds. You don’t want that to happen continuously, do you? Then it is time to check on the shocks.

8. Broken bushings

The bushing is at the end of a shock absorber on either side. Basically, the bushings are more exposed to rough conditions. For this reason, they tend to deteriorate and get out of shape more often. If that happens, the shock absorbers will also be in trouble as the bushings cushion the mounts of the shock absorbers.

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How to test bad shocks

The symptoms we have stated here don’t confirm a 100% bad shock case. These symptoms sometimes may occur due to other reasons. If you are sure about the symptoms that they are not out of leaks, you need to do a test first to determine why the symptoms are there. You can do so by following the simple methods mentioned below.

i. visual observation

You can check whether the shocks are in good shape by simply observing the vehicle from a little distance. Stop your car. Go a few meters far from your car. Now see whether the front end of your car is okay. If both the left and right sides of the front end are at the same height from the ground, you have no problem with the shocks. But if that is not the case and one side is leaning more than the other side, you are in problem. You have to change the shocks.

ii. visual inspection

You can even inspect some of the vehicle parts to determine the condition of the shocks. If you don’t have the confidence, you can leave this inspection part to the experts. The cracked bushings are the main culprit behind the shocks being bad. That is why you have to inspect the bushings first, whether they are okay to perform their jobs or not.

iii. Bounce test

You can test the shocks with another simple test named the bounce test. In this test, you have to put pressure on one corner of the vehicle and make it bounce a few times. If the bounce stops immediately, you can tell the shock absorbers are okay. If it doesn’t, you need to replace those shocks.

Read also Best Shocks For Dodge RAM 1500 4×4 and Rancho vs Bilstein,Bilstein 5100 vs Fox 2.0

How to maintain the shock absorbers?

Prevention is better than cure. If you can make the shocks last longer, you won’t have to pay much for changing and maintenance purposes. Then why not do it? Follow the steps mentioned below to take better care of the shock absorbers.

  • Always watch out for any symptoms that mean the shocks become bad. If you can catch the shocks in a bad situation at an earlier condition, you may not even have to replace the whole shock. You will be able to fix this without much hassle.
  • Try to avoid driving rough. If you intend not to give hard time to the vehicle and the shocks, chances are you are going to have a good time with them for a long time.
  • Try not to buy incompatible aftermarket shocks. If you do that, most probably you are going to damage the shocks along with some other parts. Thus, always check the specification of the aftermarket shocks before buying to avoid any further inconvenience.

Check Shocks For Dodge RAM 1500 4×4

Bilstein 5100 Vs Fox 2.0 | Performance Shocks Difference


How do I know if my shocks are bad?

The purpose of the shocks is to stabilize your vehicle while driving. So, if you are experiencing uncomfortable rides and hard handling, most probably the shocks went bad. The following are the major signs you need to watch out for to know about any disturbance in the shock absorbers.

  • Vibration while driving
    • Nose diving or swerving while driving
    • Uneven tire wear
    • Leaks
    • Trouble while braking

How do I know if I have shocks or struts?

The design of both shocks and struts is basically the same. The difference relies on their functioning. The struts take the load of the vehicle while the shocks link the suspension parts. They serve one common purpose, to stabilize the vehicle while driving. Thus, it is really hard to know whether you have bad shocks or struts. The best way to know is to go under the hood and check the parts physically when you see any symptoms.

How do I know when to replace the shocks?

The symptoms will tell you when to replace the shocks. If you see one or two major symptoms that indicate the failure of the shocks, you need to confirm that. You can do so by observing the car from a bit distance or through inspection. The moment you are assured of the bad shocks, you have to change them as soon as possible.

Should I replace all 4 shocks at the same time?

Yes, it is ideal to replace all the shocks at the same time. The reason behind this is to make sure that the new shocks don’t become incompatible with the old ones. If that happens, it may cause further problems that you don’t want for sure. That is why you should replace all 4 shocks at the same time.

What happens when shock absorbers wear out?

When shock absorbers wear out, they tend to inform the driver about that. They do that by showing symptoms ranging from nose-diving to disgusting sounds. As soon as you get to know about the symptoms, you have to take measures to get rid of the problem. If you don’t and drive even with the worn shocks, chances are you are getting into more danger than just a bad ride. Sometimes it may even lead to a terrible accident.

Do bad shock absorbers make noise?

In short, yes. The bad shock absorbers can create noise. If the shocks wear out, they can no longer support the struts. Thus, the metal contacting with another metal can eventually create noise. But the noise is not necessarily considered as the symptoms as noise can emerge from various other sources.


The symptoms we have stated here do not come out solely because of bad shock absorbers. We mentioned it earlier. The ideal thing to do is to test the shock absorbers after seeing any of these symptoms. If you manage to find the issues at the early stage, it may save you from changing the whole shock.

However, if you need to change the shocks, don’t go for the cheaper ones to save money. Yes, you want to save as much as possible, but buying bad shocks is not a good choice by any means. See the reviews before opting to buy any of the aftermarket parts. Stay happy and safe.

Shock absorbers’ work is not to maintain a smooth driving experience only. They play a bigger role than your thoughts. The shocks also ensure that you have good overall control over your vehicle. Thus, a bad shock is not the thing you would want to happen.

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