Weak, sagging springs and worn shocks and struts can allow the wheels to bounce excessively when braking on rough surfaces. This, in turn, can increase the distance it takes for a vehicle to stop.
A few feet might not seem like much of a difference, but in a critical situation it might make the difference of stopping just in time or having an accident. Brakes, tires and suspension are sometimes called the “safety triangle.” All three must be in good condition for safe driving. Some shock manufacturers recommend replacing shocks and struts at 50,000 miles to restore like-new ride and handling performance. Shocks and struts should be replaced (in pairs) if they are leaking, damaged, not providing adequate ride control or the owner isn’t happy with the way their vehicle rides and handles.
Struts also should be replaced if they are making noise due to worn upper bearing plates, or if the steering has become stiff and slow to return after turning. Complete strut assemblies are a popular replacement option because they do not require a spring compressor, and are quicker and easier to install than a bare strut.
Do replacement shocks and struts have to be the same as the original parts?
No. Replacement shocks and struts can be the same as the original parts, or they can be upgraded to some type of adjustable or performance shock/strut if that’s what a customer wants. High-pressure monotube gas shocks and struts typically provide the best ride control for performance-oriented applications. Air-assist shocks and struts also can be installed to improve a vehicle’s load carrying capacity and to better control ride height.
For older vehicles with electronic air leveling suspensions or struts (Lincoln, Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, etc.), replacement parts may be unavailable or too expensive if the original air suspension has failed and gone flat (often due to leaks or a compressor failure). For these applications, conversion kits are an affordable repair option. The kit allows the suspension to be changed over to a conventional design with steel springs.