Shock Absorber Basics: You should know for your safety
Shock absorber plays a huge role in every car around the world; therefore, it is essential to know regarding them and the role they play. Shock absorbers exist almost since the invention of the car. However, sometimes we know little about this shocks.
That is why; people usually ask themselves about What does a shock absorber do? How many types of shock absorbers are there? How long do shock absorbers last? Can I drive with bad shocks??
Therefore, here, you will find a useful explanation of how does a shock absorber work and the importance of that piece inside of every car. Moreover, there are several types of shock absorbers; this time, we will talk about their operation and when it is appropriate to change them.
The automobiles' shock absorbers or struts are the primary aspects of the active safety of the vehicle. They protect both passengers and the rest of the car's elements from car shocks, impacts, and/or vibrations.
This device is part of the suspension system of different classes of vehicles such as cars, motorcycles, and airplanes. It always controls movements to convert kinetic energy into thermal. It is located between the chassis and the wheels of the vehicle in question.
To point it out, the term suspension refers to the set of components that connect the wheels with the chassis of a vehicle allowing relative movement between them.
The primary function of a shock absorbers is not about going less comfortable in our vehicle, or that people notice fewer bumps and irregularities of the road. Those points before are actually what a shock absorber has as function, but the best of them is keeping the tire glued to the ground at all the time.
This is a highly important point: think of a vehicle that has no shock absorbers car, and in which the undercarriage is very rigid. As a result of that, when the vehicle passes over irregularities, potholes or bumps, the car will bounce, it will make small jumps or small boats.
If it is only for a second or a few fractions of a second, this means that the tire is not touching the surface. This action is hazardous for everyone! And when the tire is not in contact with the ground, the car is not clinging to anything; we cannot draw, steer, and brake.
The function of the shock absorber is based on the operation of the valves that transport oil within the internal mechanisms of the vehicle. This oil, when circulating, generates resistance in the shock absorber chambers, so that the control of shocks and oscillations, the product of the car's suspension, is generated.
The circulation must be between the internal devices through a set of valves that generate resistance to the passage thereof between the shock absorber chambers. In this way, the oscillations of the suspension are controlled.
Movements performed by Shock Absorber
The movements performed by the shock absorber are two: Expansion and Compression.
EXPANSION: The movement of the oil opens the shock absorber through the piston of the shock absorber, the same as the holes, the grooves, and the spring inside it. These elements control the flow of oil that passes. These shock absorber components give it hydraulic resistance forces, since through this resistance, the oil flow is regulated, and therefore, the amortization is controlled.
COMPRESSION: It is the procedure through which the shock absorber closes. It is generated again by the same hydraulic resistors that control the movement and passage of the oil. But in this case, for the closing of the shock absorber, the piston needs to lower, which is produced if the oil at the bottom of the piston flows through it.
In the market, we can find a wide range of options among the shock absorbers: pneumatic, rheological, magnetic, and among others.
Hydraulic: This type of shock absorber does not require maintenance and are the ones that work best at high levels of pressure. Those shock absorbers consist of a piston inside the cylinder where oil flows from one end of the shock absorber to the other.
Hydraulic with valves: The oil does not circulate through the holes, but through valves that make them softer and more efficient.
Twin tube: They work with two chambers, through which oil circulates if they are pressurized, or oil and gas if they are not. By being shorter and having less friction, they are ideal in extreme situations like big potholes.
Monotube: In this case, each of the cameras receives a component: gas or oil. Between them is a floating piston, and depending on the pressure to which they are exposed, the hardness, and frequency can be regulated.
What difference is there between gas shock absorbers and hydraulic?
Hydraulic shock absorbers work only with oil. These contain two chambers. According to the movement of the rod, the oil passes from one chamber to another. These chambers contain air only where the oil enters through regulating valves.
- Advantages: They are not so rigid
- Disadvantages: Less performance in demanding curves, bubbles generate the passage of oil from one chamber to another.
The gas shock absorbers are also hydraulic, but instead of containing only air in the chambers, they have nitrogen gas. It is by making the return of the fluid to the chambers more efficient in the car. It is by accelerating the contact of the tires with the pavement after a rebound and prevents bubbles from forming, which generates a better response in hard work.
- Advantages: Better and faster adhesion of tires to the floor, even in hard work.
- Disadvantages: They make the suspension a little more rigid.
I have listed the symptoms of bad shock absorbers below. If you face the below issues, you should change shock absorbers:
- There is irregular tire wear.
- The car does not stop instantly.
- Slight losses of car control in corners.
- You can notice the vibrations on the steering wheel.
- You get the feeling of more significant lateral wind.
- Glare in night driving.
- There are losses of hydraulic fluid.
Impacts of poor and good Shock Absorber
Detecting shock absorbers in poor condition can save more than one scare on the road.
- Adhesion in curves, loss of direction, and aquaplaning are some of the most common consequences.
- Besides, the braking distance also increases markedly.
- Finally, the poor condition of the shock absorbers can also cause the rest of the parts of the suspension system - such as ball joints, bearings, arms, and other supports - to wear more quickly.
On the contrary, shock absorbers in good condition will provide us with a series of benefits:
- The wheels will be in direct contact with the asphalt, increasing the safety and stability of the vehicle.
- They guarantee an optimal braking distance.
- It will provide greater control of the vehicle.
You must change the shock absorbers if you notice any oil leaks. The oil mentioned above is a fundamental part of its proper functioning. You can also see when they stop working because when braking, you will notice some inclination next to the shock absorber that is failing.
Remember that the half-life of the shock absorbers is around 150 thousand km. However, everything will depend on maintenance and brand.
The shock absorber is one of the essential components of the suspension system of a car. Therefore, shock absorbers, together with tires, and the brakes, form a critical set for the safety of the car. That is why you have to be aware of the conditions in which they are regularly.
The shock absorbers should be checked approximately every 20,000 km, although it does not mean that they will be in poor condition. You just have to make sure that they have not lost much of their effectiveness, and of course, check that they are not, in fact, in poor condition.
Moreover, hydraulic shock absorber is the most used for their simple operation. In addition, they do not have so much maintenance. Besides, they are also very fast to improve vehicle performance and safety.