How to Drive With Worn Shocks & Struts

by William Zane
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SUV suspension image by Kathy Burns from

The shocks and struts on your vehicle are the all-important components of the suspension that isolate the vehicle and in turn the driver from the ever-changing surface of the road. Over time, shocks and struts will wear out from repeated use. When they do, the result is a suspension that can bounce up and down, feel vague and unresponsive and just generally not do what it is designed to. A car with worn shocks can be driven safely, though it is not as comfortable as one with shocks and struts that are in good shape.

Step 1

Accelerate smoothly and slowly. When you quickly accelerate away from a stop in a car with worn shocks, the rear end can drop down suddenly and the front end rise up because of how soft and worn the suspension is. You can reduce this tendency by driving smoothly when you take off from a stop.

Step 2

Stop the car smoothly and progressively. Much like the problems that occur during acceleration, when the brakes are applied suddenly in a vehicle with worn shocks and struts the front end has a tendency to dip and the rear raise up from the uncontrolled weight transfer. To reduce this, avoid slamming on the brakes.

Step 3

Drive around corners conservatively. Shocks and struts are the primary components that eliminate or reduce body roll (along with anti-roll bars), so when these components are worn out, the vehicle will lean more in corners and feel less controllable. By driving less aggressively around corners, the vehicle will feel more safe and handle better.

Step 4

Avoid bumps and ruts. A car with bad shocks will hop and shake over rough sections of roads because of the uncontrolled oscillation of the shocks and struts. If possible, avoid driving directly over large bumps and rough areas of road, instead guiding the vehicle around them where possible. Also avoid driving on rough roads in general as well as dirt roads.

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