Suspension components become the weakest part in poor road conditions. The main ones are shock absorbers and springs. Let’s discuss whether you need to change the springs when replacing the shock absorbers.
The shock absorber and spring always work in tandem, performing two parts of the same task – providing a smooth ride and drivability of the car. The spring is an elastic suspension element that softens jolts and shocks from driving on rough roads. After hitting an obstacle, the wheel comes off the ground and becomes unmanageable.
The task of the spring is to put it back in place as soon as possible. But after hitting the road, the wheel bounces back, and the softer the spring, the more it can compress and absorb more energy. Since this energy is expended very slowly, the oscillation will not subside for a long time, fueled by new jolts from bumps in the road. To solve this problem, a shock absorber comes to the rescue, which is designed to quickly dampen wheel oscillations by converting them into body and suspension sway heat.
Due to its complexity, the shock absorber is a less reliable device, requiring periodic replacement if performance deteriorates.
What needs to be replaced in the vehicle’s suspension?
Normal operation of the suspension is possible only when the shock absorber and spring interact correctly and fully perform their functions. While the springs hold the weight of the car, their movements are controlled by the shock absorbers – respectively, they depend on each other. If either component “fails”, it shifts some of the work to its “partner”. If the spring sags, the shock absorber overloaded with extra work fails much faster, and a bad shock absorber cannot properly limit the movement of the spring and sway the car.
The condition of the spring determines both road holding and the degree to which the dampers and lugs are adversely affected, as well as the braking performance of the car. But why does a spring lose its performance?
It happens because of:
- Metal deterioration, depending on natural wear and tear;
- Surface damage (friction, stones, full compression);
- Frequent overloading of the car or overcoming at speed uneven sections of the road;
- Corrosion of the metal (increased humidity, the effects of road salt).
When replacing shock absorbers, it is best to change the springs as well, but it is expensive and not necessary, considering that it is impossible to visually detect some spring characteristics, such as metal fatigue rate.
Installation of new shock absorbers in complex with old and starting to rust springs is the repair of suspension by half, while shortening the service life of all suspension units. By replacing all parts at the same time, the suspension will be restored to its original condition. As an added bonus, part of the cost will be recovered by saving double the cost of the work.
Springs are ALWAYS replaced when:
- Their breakage (usually they break at the very top or bottom coils);
- Visible corrosion or damage to the metal;
- Reduced machine height (you must measure and compare the distance between the center of the wheel and the edge of the wheel arch on all four wheels);
- The difference in the height of the front and rear of the machine.
If all is normal, it is acceptable to change the springs every other time you replace the shocks. If you often drive alone in the car, it is recommended to swap the right and left sides when replacing the shock absorbers without replacing the springs, because the left side is more likely to be loaded by the weight of the driver.