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Is it dangerous to drive with bad shock absorbers?

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Updated 10 Oct 2019

Rowan Johnstone

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Without meaning to shock you, yes, it can be quite dangerous to drive with bad shocks.

Worn or bad shocks can severely affect your cars handling, braking and cornering ability.

There’s nothing worse than expecting a car to handle a certain way, only for it to handle completely differently, catching you off guard and potentially getting you into dangerous situations.

There are a few telltale signs which indicate you’ve got bad shocks:

Vibration through the steering wheel when driving

Although a bit of vibration can be expected from time to time, this kind of vibration will be excessive and rather noticeable, even on smooth, flat roads.

The higher your speed, the more dangerous these vibrations become as they could reduce your ability to control the car.

Your car swerves or nose dives while braking

If, when you apply the brakes, the nose of your car dips heavily, this could be a sign that your shocks are on their way out.

Even worse, if braking causes your car to swerve, this is a definite cause for alarm and can be especially dangerous in wet weather.

Braking takes longer than normal to stop the car

Believe it or not, your shock absorbers contribute to how quickly your car can come to a complete stop once you’ve applied the brakes.

If your shocks are worn, this distance could be much longer than you’re used to.

In an emergency braking situation, having shocks in good condition could be the difference between stopping in time or causing an accident.

Your tyres are wearing unevenly

Worn shocks struggle to keep your tyres firmly and evenly on the road.

This causes your tyres to wear unevenly which is always potentially dangerous, but particularly so when driving on wet roads as it increases your chances of hydroplaning.

Excessive body roll or ‘bounce’

High performance sports machines aside, most cars roll out of the factory with suspension that aims to make your ride as smooth and seamless as possible.

If you start noticing your car bouncing excessively after going over a bump, or it starts feeling as if it’s going to tip over when going around a corner, your shocks may not be doing their job.

Bad shocks won't be able to cope with the stress and weight of the car.

Not only does this affect the handling of the car, it can also lead to other parts taking up more strain than they’re built to handle.

Anything that causes your vehicle to perform poorly, especially in regards to its ability to stop, corner or handle well should definitely be deemed dangerous.

Best to get this issue sorted out as quickly as possible.

If you suddenly experience one of the above symptoms whilst on the road, your next stop should be with a qualified mechanic in order to ensure your car is safe to drive.

If you’re not sure whether you should be driving your car at all, we encourage you to book a mobile mechanic to come to you and inspect your vehicle.

It’s quick and easy through AutoGuru.

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Written By

Rowan Johnstone

On weekdays Rowan can be found in the AutoGuru office, driving content and growth with the rest of the marketing team.

On weekends you’ll probably find him in the garage with his dad restoring a 1958 Ford Star Model Customline or enjoying a cruise through the Gold Coast hinterland on his Suzuki GSX-R600.

Despite his passion for being behind the wheel (or handlebars), he looks forward to the day when he can commute to work in his own driverless car.