Does your Subaru adventure-mobile bounce wildly when you drive over a bump in the road? When the road is just a little bit rough, does it seem difficult to steer properly? If so, there may be a problem with the shocks and/or struts on your vehicle. Wear and tear on these parts will make Subaru cars difficult to control safely. Therefore, it is crucial to resolve these issues. How do you know for sure if it’s time to replace your shocks or struts? Here are some tips to get you started:
How do struts work?
Shocks or struts are an essential part of a Subaru’s suspension system. The struts provide control over the spring when movement occurs in the suspension. They keep the springing movement of your spring to a minimum, stopping the oscillation and bounce that can lead to poor and unpredictable handling characteristics. When struts are working correctly, the car will track straighter, provide a more planted feel on and off-road, and the ride will be more comfortable.
What’s the difference between Subaru shocks and struts?
Shocks, or shock absorbers, are an essential component of the suspension system. By controlling the impact and rebound movement of your vehicle's springs, they ensure that the vehicle's tires stay in contact with the road at all times. Finally, they absorb energy from the impact of rough roads or trails. On these surfaces, the wheels of a car can actually bounce off of the surface and vibrate erratically without shocks. The shocks help slow down this spring movement, allowing the suspension to keep the tires in contact with the road. Sometimes this bouncing feeling is described as harshness or stiffness. This is because of the lack of dampening the strut is providing. The relationship between the strut and the spring is a balance. When the spring rate (stiffness) of the spring is raised then the struts ability to dampen this stronger or stiffer spring is limited. This causes more heat in the strut and causes the strut’s performance to decline and wear out prematurely. For this reason, the correct combination of springs with shocks and/or struts is very important.
Nearly all AWD vehicles use struts in their suspension system. Car struts combine a variety of suspension parts into a compact assembly, which includes:
- Coil Springs
- Spring Seats
- Shock Absorbers
- Strut Bearing
- Bump Stops
- Dust Boots
- Various Seals
The coil springs support the weight of the vehicle and adjust to road irregularities like bumps, hills, and off-road obstacles and terrain.
What are the effects of bad shocks or struts?
Faulty shocks or struts will make it difficult to control your vehicle properly. You will notice this when driving over a bump or a pothole, which will cause the vehicle to wander and/or oscillate excessively if poor performing shocks or struts are installed. This is why shocks and struts must always be kept in good working order.
How do I know if I need new shocks or struts for my vehicle?
You should look for the following 6 signs if you suspect your shocks or struts need to be replaced:
It's a bumpy ride
When you experience an uncomfortable, bumpy ride, it could be due to worn or faulty shocks or struts. The ride will be rougher because the ability for the strut to absorb the spring oscillation will not be there. If you feel your car is about to lose control over a bump or pothole, It's likely your shocks or struts need to be replaced.
Having a problem with steering
Worn shocks or struts can affect your vehicle’s steering. You may be experiencing stiffness or difficulty turning the steering wheel. Cornering or switching lanes may also feel like your car is swaying or leaning. This could be due to worn struts that aren’t properly absorbing the imperfections of the driving surface.
A problem with the brakes
In addition to suspension and steering issues, faulty struts can cause problems with braking. When you brake, you may feel your car is unstable, takes a nosedive, or lurches forward. Again, this could be due to the struts inability to absorb the movement associated with braking.
When you know where to look, you can visually see wear and tear on struts. A fluid leak on the strut is the most common visual indication that your shocks or struts need replaced.
Unusual tire tread wear
You will usually notice uneven tread wear when your suspension or wheel alignment is off. It is possible for scalloped dips ("cups") to develop around the edge of the tread as a result of suspension damage. See a mechanic as soon as you notice any such signs on your tires.
Depending on the make and model of your car, shocks and struts should be replaced about every 50,000-100,000 miles. Check the shocks or struts every 50,000 miles, or as often as your operating manual or suspension manufacturer recommends.
So, which shocks and struts are right for me?
The market is filled with many shocks, each with its own method of smoothing out your ride. It is important to know which kind of shock is appropriate for your driving style, since there are so many varieties available.
In our experience, and in most cases, Bilstein shocks are some of the best performing shocks and struts for Subaru platforms. They have incredible on-road performance and handling and, when paired with RalliTEK springs, they become a formidable off-road suspension package.
In order to develop the best Subaru lift, we tested hundreds of combinations of shocks and struts. Bilstein B6 shocks were the result of this testing exercise. In combination with our proprietary spring combinations, we achieve unparalleled off-road performance while maintaining the on-road comfort and of the Subaru platform.
Protecting your Subaru during off-road adventures should always be considered as well. Read more about it here.