The title of this article is to make all car owners aware that, for the sake of proper functioning of the suspension, care should be taken not only about shock absorbers. This means that attention should also be directed to the components cooperating with them, such as: covers, bumpers, bearings, cushions, thrust plates and springs. Periodic inspection of suspension fasteners in the form of bolts, washers and nuts is also necessary.
Beware of damage!
First of all, the covers and bumpers of shock absorbers should be subjected to detailed control. The main task of the covers is to prevent sand, dust and salt from getting in the winter season to the shock absorber piston rods. Damaged covers let through impurities, which in a short time contribute to damage to the shock absorbers. Usually, oil leaks or a significant drop in gas pressure occurs. During periodic inspection of suspension components, attention should also be paid to the technical condition of the buffers. Only undamaged, characterized by proper flexibility, guarantee trouble-free operation of shock absorbers. There are, however, extreme cases in which improperly functioning bumpers can damage the latter. This happens quite often in Volkswagen cars (including Passat B4 or VW Golf III). In these vehicles, due to the use of shock absorbers in the form of columns with springs mounted on them, the bumpers perform – like the covers – a protective function. What is going on? Due to the type of fastening used, moisture and various types of dirt get around the covers and fenders. The task of the latter is therefore to provide a proper barrier protecting the piston rod against the aforementioned harmful factors. Therefore, in these models, both covers and bumpers should be much more often replaced with new ones – absolutely after finding even slight damage.
Stresses and corrosion
The next steps during inspection should be directed towards bearings or so-called mounting pads (on vehicles in which they are fitted). For McPherson struts, the upper shock absorber mounts have ball bearings that are subject to gradual wear during daily operation. The same applies to mounting cushions, which is why they should be replaced if they are damaged. And finally, it’s time for thrust plates, which are used to fix the springs and the springs themselves. The first ensure proper seating of the springs on the shock absorber and are mounted as an integral part of the shock absorber or its bearing or are separate suspension elements. In most cases, they are damaged for purely mechanical reasons, including as a result of excessive reaching the suspension due to the lack of proper damping. Also, the springs mentioned above may lose their stiffness and other properties, e.g. after breaking individual coils. The latter is also a consequence of the loss of damping properties by the shock absorber.
That they connect effectively
When checking the technical condition of the suspension, a thorough check of fasteners and fasteners cannot be omitted. In this case, it comes with various types of nuts, bolts and washers. It is worth checking the tightness periodically and reacting quickly if any defects are found. Attention! Whenever the shock absorbers are replaced with new ones, all fasteners must also be replaced. Compliance with this last condition should not, however, entail any difficulties, because the latter are supplied complete with new shock absorbers. The specialists also advise to extend the exchange carried out each time with the aforementioned covers and bumpers, as well as shock absorber bearings (or mounting pads), thrust plates and springs. The comprehensive replacement ensures trouble-free operation of the entire suspension, without the risk of damaging any of its components not listed.
And of course – shock absorbers
At the end of this text, a few words about the most important suspension element, which are shock absorbers. They should be replaced after finding a reduced vibration damping force (in this case it is worth ensuring the degree of disability by subjecting them to the so-called Skocktester), and absolutely after sudden damage, including entering a deep hole or a hole in the roadway. Shock absorbers are always replaced in pairs. This is particularly important because when replacing only one shock absorber (e.g. the more damaged one), the suspension damping force will be different on both sides of the vehicle. As a consequence, this will affect the vehicle’s poor handling and behavior.