Replacing Springs and Shocks: All You Need to Know
Springs and shocks help make our rides comfortable and enjoyable. They reduce impacts from road bumps, making our journeys smoother. However, like all other machines, these components wear out after continuous use, hence the need for replacement.
This guide addresses some of the most vital concerns about springs and shock, such as the role each plays in the suspension system, how to identify a faulty one and general replacement tips and steps.
What Is the Difference Between Springs and Shocks?
Every vehicle you see on the road today has a suspension system comprising multiple components, including springs and shock absorbers. While springs are designed to support and cushion the vehicle when it strikes an object, shocks limit the vertical motion from the springs and absorb the impact.
Shocks and struts are often used interchangeably, but their design and application are the primary differences. Shocks are generally used for vehicles with an upper and lower control arm or a solid axle on the rear. However, struts are employed for those without an upper control arm and connect to the knuckle. All vehicles use shocks or struts on each wheel, but most use shock absorbers in the rear and struts in the front. Again, shock absorbers are designed to be slightly stiffer than struts because they work with other parts to absorb shocks from the road.
There are different types of shock absorbers, including mono-tube, dual and coil-over shocks. There are different types of springs as well. Examples are coil springs, coil-over springs, leaf springs and lowered springs.
How to Know If Your Springs and Shocks Are Going Bad
Here are nine common signs your springs and shocks need repair or replacement:
- Sagging vehicle: The springs in your suspension system help balance your vehicle’s weight. Thus, a truck may sag or tilt to one side as they weaken, especially when loaded to the maximum capacity. You must fix the problem immediately before it ruins the axle.
- Unusual noise: Limiting noise is one of the most significant advantages of springs and shocks. So when you hear unusual noise around the wheel area, check the suspension system as soon as possible.
- Uneven tire wear: A faulty suspension system can affect your tires' wear due to excess weight distribution and imbalance. The tires may wear or strip faster than the due dates, sometimes unevenly. In such instances, it’s best to get all new tires after replacing the damaged springs or shocks.
- Rough rides: A truck's suspension system is designed to absorb and reduce impacts from bumps when it travels on uneven surfaces. Damaged springs or struts may explain why your ride is bouncier because you feel the effects directly. Replacing the suspension system can improve comfort and safety.
- Abrupt sway: Over-worn springs and shocks can destabilize your suspension system, causing your vehicle to sway abruptly, especially when you make sharp turns. This is possible whether the coil is damaged on one or both sides.
- Oily shocks or struts: Your vehicle’s shocks and struts may leak when they wear out. This usually happens when the seals break.
- Instability at high speeds: Damaged springs or shocks can lead to instability when you drive at high speeds. For example, you may feel your truck rocking up and down or to the sides while driving down the highway. The experience might be slight, but it helps to inspect your suspension system.
- Nose dive or dips: Nose dives or dips occur when your vehicle lurches forward and downward than usual when you hit the brakes. This affects a truck’s ability to stop quickly, posing a safety hazard. Similarly, if the back end of the car squats when you accelerate, you should check your springs and shocks.
- Difficulty steering: The suspension system helps stabilize the vehicle when in motion. Thus, your shocks or struts may be damaged when you experience difficulty navigating the vehicle or feel your truck drifting or pulling when you turn.
Do Shocks and Springs Need to Be Replaced at the Same Time?
Replacing suspension springs in pairs per axle is crucial because it increases driving safety and comfort. It also protects the suspension strut mounts, dampers and tires from premature wear and ensures that both springs are matched by rating and fitting.
It's generally recommended that you replace your springs when you replace your shocks. However, if your springs are in good condition, you may re-use the springs with the new shocks.
How Often to Replace Shocks and Springs
There are no strict timelines on how long you should use your shocks and springs before replacing them. It generally depends on factors such as the level of usage and maintenance. Inspecting them regularly and looking for signs of damage is essential. Consult an expert whenever you’re in doubt.
How to Replace Suspension Springs
Removing the shocks and springs requires care. After removing the wheel, you need to locate the bolts holding the bottom of the strut in place and loosen them with a socket wrench. Then you use an impact wrench with a socket extension to loosen the bolts inside the engine compartment at the top. The challenge arises when you need to use a spring compressor. The following steps should guide you. Let’s begin from the top:
1. Remove the Wheel
You first want to park the vehicle on a level surface and engage the parking brake. The aim is to ensure the truck is stable to prevent it from falling off the jack. Next, loosen the lug nuts on the wheel with a tire iron. Slide a jack underneath the axle near the tire and lift it. Now you can remove the lug nuts altogether and slide the tire off.
2. Remove the Old Spring
Secure a socket wrench and unscrew the bolts attaching the shocks and struts to the spring. Then unscrew the bolt connecting the spring to the sway bar. Attach two spring compressors to the outside of the suspension spring to safely keep it under tension. Tighten the compressor with a drill or wrench until the spring separates from the strut. Remove the drill or wrench from the compressor and pull the spring off the truck. Finally, remove the compressor slowly from the spring with a wrench or drill.
3. Install the New Spring
Attach the spring compressors to the new spring, tighten them with a drill or wrench and slide the compressed spring into the vehicle. Reattach the sway bar to the struts and fix them firmly using the wrench. Then remove the spring compressors. Fix the tire back unto the car and tighten the lug nut. Now you can lower the vehicle and remove the jack.
Find the Highest Quality Replacement Parts at General Spring
Springs and shock absorbers work together to make your rides smooth and comfortable. The suspension system is made of interconnected components for most truicks, so damage to one part will likely affect the others. This makes it vital to replace all broken parts immediately with quality ones.
General Spring deals in high-quality springs and shocks, with decades of experience serving auto enthusiasts nationwide. Our leaf springs come with a one-year warranty and are one of the most trusted on the market. Contact us now to learn more!