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WHEN SHOULD YOU REPLACE YOUR CAR'S SHOCK ABSORBERS?

Text | Goh Zhi Xuan
Photos | Editorial team, KYB



Ever wondered when you need to replace the shock absorbers on your car? Here are the symptoms that you should look out for.
The suspension is a vital component of all vehicles on the road. Its purpose is not only to ensure the vehicle's road holding ability and positive handling characteristic, but also the comfort of the driver and passengers. Before we delve into when and why you need to replace your car's shock absorbers, we first need to understand how it works.

Clearly, roads are not perfectly flat surfaces, hence the need for suspension systems (otherwise the entire car will be hopping violently across uneven surfaces!). That is why a spring is incorporated to absorb the effect of a bump on the road, achieving a cushioning effect. However, this brings about another issue, if left uncontrolled, the effect of the spring can be too quick and excessive causing comfort and handling issues. This is why there is a need for shock absorbers.
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How does a shock absorber work?

Shock absorbers (or dampers), as its name suggests, help to absorb the shock from uneven surfaces by limiting excessive suspension movement and slowing down (damping) the energy stored in the springs - resulting in a controlled and comfortable ride. We approached KYB, the world's largest supplier of shocks and struts for auto manufacturers, to share some insights on when shock absorbers should be replaced.

Most shock absorbers fulfil its purpose with the valving of oil and gasses in order to absorb the excess energy from the springs - the shaft of the shock absorbers is connected to a piston that is submerged in oil, the resistance from the piston moving through the oil provides the resistance to absorb the forces.
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When you feel abnormal vibrations from the steering wheel while driving

Worn valving or piston seals inside shock absorbers allow excessive fluid to flow past the piston, hampering its ability. The shock absorber is hence unable to properly absorb the smaller bumps and unevenness of the road. This causes all sorts of vibration and bumps from the road to be transferred to the driver through the steering wheel.

Such vibrations can be especially bad during highway driving at higher speeds, this not only makes driving uncomfortable, it can also be a safety hazard if it affects your ability to keep the car in control.
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When there is excessive nose dive while braking or rear squat while accelerating / when there's excessive body roll while cornering

This is yet another symptom of worn shock absorbers. When the shock absorbers fail, there is less damping effect and hence, suspension compression becomes less controlled, resulting in excessive body roll and pitching during hard cornering, braking or acceleration.

This results in general instability, 'floaty' feel when driving and increased braking distance, affecting the confidence of the driver as well as safety.
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When the car continues to bounce for prolonged duration after a bump

The shock absorbers absorb the excessive energy from the springs when a car goes over a bump, so that the wheels do not continue to move up and down excessively. With shock absorbers that are no longer functioning properly, these forces will go unchecked, causing the car to move up and down excessively, well after the initial bump, impacting comfort and handling.
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When there is abnormal, uneven tyre wear

Suspension issues can cause excessive, abnormal tyre wear as it fails to keep the tyres of the vehicle firmly on the road surface. If you notice patchy areas with excessive wear on your tyres, it is likely that the shock absorbers of your car are failing and should be replaced.
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When fluids leak from the shock absorber

Fluids are supposed to be inside the shock absorber, not outside. This happens when the seals of the shock absorber are worn or damaged. A leaking shock absorber will not work properly as the loss of fluid will hamper the inner workings of it.

Furthermore, dirt and grime can settle on the shock absorbers' shaft and get trapped on the fluid, affecting the movement of the shaft. In fact, this is one of the most obvious ways to identify a shock absorber that needs to be replaced.
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When you have installed lowering springs

Shock absorbers works closely with the springs, and hence should be matched to each other for the best performance and durability. Lowering springs which are not only shorter, but often stiffer than the factory springs, will cause the shock absorbers to constantly work outside of its usual range of operation.

The shock absorbers might not be able to handle the increased forces due to the stiffer springs and result in a less controlled, uncomfortable ride, as well as poor handling characteristics. Additionally, the shock absorbers' lifespan will also be shortened.
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KYB shock absorbers are just what you need

Established in 1935, KYB has been consistently developing world class suspension products and is now the world's largest supplier of original equipment as well as aftermarket shocks and struts, with 32 facilities around the world.

KYB's range of high quality shock absorbers is designed to improve driving stability, handling and control on various roads without compromising ride quality. KYB produces shocks and struts for all makes of vehicles, be it a Japanese, Korean or European car.

If your car is showing the above-mentioned symptoms, it may be time for you to replace your old, worn out shock absorbers. Depending on your requirements, KYB has the Excel-G - a low pressure gas filled twin tube design that assures a quality ride, Premium - a twin tube design that is made for superb durability, Gas-a-just - a high pressure gas filled monotube design for performance rides, as well as the New SR Special - a high spec damper that is suitable for street and track use.
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KYB New SR Special shock absorbers

The KYB New SR Special enhances stability in normal driving, thanks to its stronger damping characteristics. It also limits the car's body roll, improving cornering stability, at the same time, braking performance is also improved due to reduction in nose-diving, offering an improved balance to the car. Additionally, the new SR Special is also suitable for use with lowering springs.

Yuen Thong & Co Pte Ltd is the sole distributor of KYB shock absorbers in Singapore. It is located at 43 Genting Road Singapore 349487.

For all enquiries, you can reach it at 6742 5249 or yuenthongco@yahoo.com.sg.

Currently, Yuen Thong & Co Pte Ltd has tied up with workshops to offer installation of KYB shock absorbers at attractive rates for a limited time period.