How To Diagnose Failing Shocks And Struts

For moving parts, shocks and struts last a pretty long time. OEM shocks and struts usually last between 50K and 100K miles, or 3-7 years. Your shocks’ or struts' longevity depends on several factors:

  • The quality of the shocks/struts (OEM shocks/struts typically last longer than aftermarket ones)
  • Driving conditions (shocks/struts driven regularly on rough roads don’t last as long as those driven on smooth roads)

Do you believe that your shocks may have worn out? Let us help you diagnose your shocks and/or struts!

The Most Common Signs Of Bad Shocks And Struts

Image Credit: AJ Pierce

Here are the biggest telltale signs that your shocks and struts aren’t what they used to be:

  • Unevenly worn tires
  • Nose diving when braking
  • Poor handling when turning
  • Body sway in strong winds
  • Rougher ride
  • Bouncy ride

Checking Your Shocks And Struts For Leaks

The first thing you want to do is to check your shocks and struts for leaks. Leaks are symptom that something has gone wrong inside the shock. Things that may have gone wrong include:

  • Worn or brittle seals
  • Heavy impact with a pothole has damaged the seals
  • Bent shock piston rod (this is rare)

Why A Leaking Shock Needs Replacing

When you have a leaking shock, the liquid that's coming out is the hydraulic fluid. The fluid is what the shock needs to absorb energy. The less hydraulic fluid your shocks have, the less "cushion" (or viscous friction) there will be to absorb energy.

How To Check Your Shocks For Leaks

You need to give your shocks a thorough visual inspection. You can:

  • Bend down and look underneath your car, or:
  • Lift your car, remove the tires, and then check the shocks

Hydraulic fluid is very light in color: white with a hint of yellow. It's almost the same color as brake fluid. There's a very high chance that your shocks are dirty. That means you might have a hard time detecting the hydraulic fluid. What you want to look for is some wetness on the shocks. If the shocks are dirty, then the dirt buildup will absorb the fluid. You won't be seeing fluid drip down the shocks, but rather dirt buildup with a consistency like wet sand.

Doing The Bounce Test

If your shocks don't seem leaky, but you're still thinking that they're no longer good, you can do the bounce test. It's a simple test that will tell you a lot about the state of your shocks. Here's how the bounce test goes:

  1. Park your Ford on a flat surface.
  2. In one swift motion, push down on one corner of the vehicle and then let go. Be sure to push it down hard. Use your body weight if you need to.
  3. Observe how the shock at that corner reacts.
    1. Do you hear any squeaking or rattling noises?
    2. How many times did the vehicle bounce before stabilizing?
  4. Repeat with the rest of the corners on your car.

If your car rebounds to its at-rest height, then the shock or strut at that corner is still good. If your car bounces once or more, then the shock or strut is bad.

Do You Need Replacement Shocks Or Struts?

Did you find leaks on one of your shocks or struts? Did your shocks or struts fail the bounce test?

Even if you have only one bad shock or strut, you still should replace the other shock or strut on the same axle. Doing so will keep your car as stable as possible.

If you're looking for OEM replacement shocks or struts, you'll find what you need on our website. We carry genuine OEM Ford parts, including shocks and struts. The best part? We offer wholesale pricing. You'd be hard-pressed to find better prices elsewhere.

Need help finding the right part number for your Ford? Reach out to us, and we'll help you any way we can!