Editorial & Training Insights from “Mac” McGovern, AAM
-Director of Training & Marketing
“I can feel every bump in the road.” or “My car vibrates and makes noise after every bump.” You’ve probably heard motorists describe these conditions frequently. “My vehicle just doesn’t feel new anymore.” All of these issues point to a “Harsh Ride” condition.
Most Harsh Ride conditions are actually caused by a “loose” condition. Suspensions don’t become firmer as components wear; they become sloppy or have extra movement. It’s the additional movements that travel through the frame, body & steering that make the ride feel harsh.
When you control and resist those movements the ride feels quieter and smoother. That’s one of the most visible advantages that you can offer the motorist when replacing shocks and struts. Think about it; what other replacement parts make as much of a positive impact on driver satisfaction than shocks & struts?
While curing harsh & noisy will be important to the motorist, the truth is that’s just a small portion of the benefits. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If you can feel the harshness in the vehicle, imagine what that extra movement is doing to tire performance, component wear and braking distance. Simply put, the steering, suspension, brakes and tires will not perform within their designed capability if the shocks and struts can’t control vibration and movement due to road conditions. If the ride seems harsh or noisy, there’s reason enough to be concerned about the handling and control of the vehicle.
Harshness isn’t just a sign of age, it’s an indication that the vehicle isn’t performing as well as it could. Listening to the motorist and understanding what a harsh ride condition can mean is critical to helping the motorist keep their vehicle within its designed performance.Diagnosing harshness requires a road test to experience the condition and an undercar inspection. Check for over-inflated tires or lack of tire tread. Check for looseness in wheel bearings, steering or suspension components. Frame, sway bar and stabilizer bushings are also a common cause. Check the shocks & struts for leaking. If you don’t find evidence of visibly worn components and the vehicle has more than 50K miles (80K km) and still has its original shocks and struts, you probably have enough reason to suggest replacing them.