Driving with Bad Shocks
Driving with worn shocks is easy to spot. Maybe you feel every bump or groove in the road, or perhaps you notice that your truck is excessively swerving or leaning towards one side. Regardless of how you got worn shocks, it’s time to consider buying replacement shock absorbers. After all, shocks last about 150,000 miles in heavy-duty vehicles.
There are many types of OEM shock absorbers on the market for fleet vehicles, and that’s because there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach. Let’s examine the parts of shock absorbers that may be overlooked by buyers.
Double Seal Design
You may be asking yourself why you should care about a dual seal design on shocks, but it is more about prevention than just strength protection. With this type of design, shock absorbers will keep out dirt, debris, and other harmful contaminants from inner seals. (Inner seal damage on shocks allows for oil to pass through.)
Piston Seal Design
Some shock absorbers on the market either contain a rubber o-ring or no seal at all. If you can find a shock absorber with a square groove PTFE (Teflon) piston seal, jump on it. Square grooved piston seals prevent leakage, eliminate misting and help to prevent oil from moving throughout the piston rod.
Piston Rod Design
Do you know the leading cause is of seal failure? Corrosion of the piston rod. Some shock absorber manufacturers use nitride piston rods (with or without drilled holes) as a cost-saving strategy; however, these shocks become weak and aren’t corrosion-resistant. Instead, choose a chrome piston rod for enhanced durability.
Welded Eye-Ring Design
The welding work and eye-ring design say lot about a shock. Some shock manufacturers use thin metal sheets to bend/form the eye-ring; and while this is okay at first glance, it will not last in the long-run. Find shocks with robotically-welded eye-rings and stud mounts for stronger, thicker performance that will offer more control of the rubber bushing.
Better-made shocks offer “shouldered” permanent mounting bushings that lock into place to prevent moving, twisting and slipping. Made from a thick rubber formula, these types of shock bushings see fewer cracks and failures.
Design dampening systems with a piston and bottom disc valve system are more responsive than shocks without this design element. Some shocks will use a coil spring in the valve system, while others may only use a bottom valve. While coil springs are nice, the downside is that they are limited in responsiveness and only offer one level of damping performance. Shocks with only bottom valves cannot respond well to all riding conditions.
Okay, it’s not really about the design; but more about the quality. Some shocks contain mineral oil that does not have consistent heat tolerance; while others use synthetic Eneos oil. Synthetic oil is more refined and can handle temperature changes with ease.
It’s not about the color, but more about the paint’s thickness. Thicker paint will help protect the shock against corrosion and keep it going for longer. Find a shock with a thick coating of at least 37 microns.
There are several replacement shocks on the market for heavy-duty vehicles, but not all shocks are created equally. Take the time to research competing shocks that match your vehicle to find the best fit. Check out top brands such as Match Made; Monroe and Gabriel, as a helpful tip.