Shock and struts, what do they do and what are the differences between them? At All Tune and Lube Tempe we see a lot of cars, many of them need shocks and struts but they can be tough items to sell because most folks don’t know what they’re for. Let me try to enlighten you a little bit.
Most adds for shocks and struts focus on providing a smooth comfortable ride. That’s a great benefit but that’s not their primary purpose. What shocks and struts do is keep your tires in contact with the road. The difference between the two, to simplify a bit, is that a strut actually holds the vehicle up. It’s a structural part of your suspension where a shock isn’t. If you removed a strut, you’re not going anywhere. If you remove a shock, driving would be crazy sketchy but the car would still move.
Prepare yourself for some more simplification and I’m going to use the word “shocks” for both shocks and struts. Picture this: You have an air filled rubber ring about 2-feet in diameter that weights maybe 50 pounds rolling along a smooth surface at a good speed. All at once this rubber ring contacts an obstruction, maybe just a couple of inches tall, and it bounces. Depending on how fast it was moving it could bounce pretty high right? and when it comes back down it’ll bounce again. If it’s important to keep that rubber ring in contact with the surface it’s rolling over, something is needed to dampen the impact (shock) and absorb the energy. That energy doesn’t just go away, it’s turned in to heat that’s dissipated by the shocks. Now every mile of road has hundreds, maybe thousands, of small and not so small dips, cracks and divots. Next time you’re riding along the highway take a look at the wheels of the other cars on the road a notice how often they move up and down to follow the surface of the road. That represents a lot of heat and a lot of mechanical wear on the shocks. Traveling on dirt roads or other rough surfaces will make the shocks so hot you can’t touch them and wears them much faster.
Manufacturers of shocks and struts recommend replacing them every 50-60,000 miles. For many, maybe most, vehicle it’s probably not necessary to replace them that often but by the time your car has 100,000 miles on the clock your shocks and struts have worn out, they’ve done their job and it’s time they retired.
From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Tempe. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.
We do a pretty good job of emissions repair here at All Tune and Lube Total Car Care and have a good reputation with ADEQ, the state department that performs the tests. Customers are often very nervous about the cost to get their system up to snuff but, like most car repair, it’s not usually as bad as they fear. Also, there are a few common mistakes and misconceptions about what to do in order to get your car to pass.
First mistake: Taking your car in to emission inspection with the check engine light (CEL) on. If you have a car built from 1996 on it came equipped with an On Board Diagnostic II system, what is usually referred to as OBD II. If the CEL is on its’ saying that there is some sort of problem that effects the emissions your car produces. If that light is on, no matter what, your car will not pass inspection.
Second mistake: OK then, if the CEL is lit, just disconnect the battery for a second and it’ll turn it off. Then the car will pass, right? Wrong. When you do that all the monitored systems are re-set and will show a Not Ready status to the inspectors. In order to get all these systems to show Ready you’ll need to go through a number of Drive Cycles (More on Drive Cycles in another post) and in all probability the problem that caused the CEL to set will re-appear.
Third mistake: Having an auto parts store pull the offending codes for you, replacing a couple of parts and assume that’ll take care of the problem. OK, to be fair, this sometimes works. If your car has a code for a faulty gas cap and you replace it, you’ll probably be fine. But oxygen sensor fault codes, evaporative emissions fault codes and even catalyst efficiency codes can have multiple causes. Take your car to a reputable shop, hopefully All Tune and Lube Total Car Care, and have them pull the codes. There’s no charge for that and the technician can explain possible causes to you.
Forth mistake: Taking the car back to the emissions inspection station too soon after the repair. Even once the repair has been completed your car will need to perform the Drive Cycle appropriate for the system to check itself and show that it’s ready. Any shop worth a darn, like ours for instance, will have a scanner that can tell you if your OBD II system is in ready status.
From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.