Kelly's Garage - Active Green and Ross - July 2012

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This month’s topic is Struts and shocks, so I thought I would share a story with you on a vehicle I once owned.  Once upon a time, I owned a 2002 Dodge Neon RT and I pretty much just drove it. Of course, I did the usual preventative maintenance but I really didn’t think about how my car handled. After all, it wasn’t a sports car so I just assumed that was the way all Dodge Neons drove.  However, one day my dad called me after just having driven my car and was all proud to tell me that my rear struts were worn out `and he then went on to ask my how come I hadn’t noticed?  My response to him was that I thought was how they all drove:) The point of sharing this story is to tell you that you won’t notice when your struts or shocks are worn out because you just get used to how the vehicle drives.  They wear out gradually and you adapt.  It takes someone else to drive your vehicle to notice it.

On another note, I am starting to book fall car care clinics so be sure to visit www.activegreenross.com to see if one is coming up in your area.


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Claude Foster created the first shock absorber in 1907, but it was called a “snubber”.  In 1918 the first hydraulic shock absorber was introduced and the first gas shock absorber was introduced in 1967. MacPherson struts, which are commonly used now, were first used on a 1949 Ford Vedette.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never even heard of a Ford Vedette:)

This month's topic: Struts and shocks

Do you know if you have struts or shocks on your car?  Do you know what they do? Do you know how often they need to be changed?

If you can’t answer all of these questions then you need to keep reading!

Every vehicle will either have 4 struts all the way around or it will have a combination of struts and shocks or it may have all shocks and springs.  It really depends on what the engineers decided to do when they designed the vehicle.

A shock absorber is an individual component of the suspension system, and the strut is a major structural component of the vehicle chassis and suspension.  The strut or shock essentially has two jobs.  One is to absorb the bumps as you go over them to give you a nice ride, and the other job is to keep the tire in contact with the road.   When you are driving on the road a shock or strut will “stroke” 2800 times per kilometer.  That’s pretty crazy when you think about it.  When a strut or shock is worn out it will impact the handling of your vehicle, as well as its stopping ability.  It will also impact your suspension components by prematurely wearing out and your tire wear will be impacted as well.  Have you ever been driving down the highway and watched a car as it hit a bump and the whole car just keeps bouncing?  That would be a vehicle with worn out struts or shocks.  There have been studies to show that having just one 50% degraded shock on your vehicle can increase your stopping distance by up to 10 feet. (The test was performed on a dry road at a speed of 96kph.)  That could be the difference of being involved in an accident or not.

It is recommended that your struts and shocks be changed at 80,000kms to maintain proper handling of your vehicle.  They should also be done in pairs.  If you have one good strut on one side and a worn out one on the other side and you needed to make an evasive manoeuvre, your vehicle handling will not be very good.  Your struts and shocks will wear out gradually so you likely won’t notice until they are really worn out.  How many kilometers do you have on your vehicle and have you ever had your struts or shocks changed?  Something to think about the next time you take your vehicle in for service.

Take care of your car and it will take care of you!

This months photo:

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Strut Assembly

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Shock Absorber

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