How to Tell If I Need New Shocks?

by Dale Yalanovsky

The term "shocks" is the slang term for automobile shock absorbers. Your may test your shocks in a very basic and not particularly scientific way that gives a reasonable indication of your shocks' condition. Use this test to decide whether to replace your shocks.

Move to one corner of your car or truck and position yourself directly above a wheel.

Push firmly downward on your car or truck body and bounce the vehicle up and down three times.

Release the vehicle and observe how it reacts. If the bouncing stops within one rise and fall after you stop, the shocks are good. If the vehicle continues to bounce repeatedly, your shocks are worn.

Inspect the shocks with a flashlight. You may have to turn the wheels to gain access and kneel down to see them. With your flashlight, look for liquid on the shocks. Liquid indicates hydraulic fluid is leaking through a faulty seal. The shock must be replaced.


  • check Replace your shocks in pairs. If one front shock is bad, both front shocks must be replaced. If one rear shock is bad, both rear shocks must be replaced. Ideally, if your budget allows, replace all four shocks at the same time for maximum safety and drivability.


  • close Never use only a jack to inspect the shocks. If you must use a jack, after lifting the vehicle, secure it by placing at least two jack stands beneath the frame.

Items you will need

About the Author

Dale Yalanovsky has been writing professionally since 1978. He has been published in "Woman's Day," "New Home Journal" and on many do-it-yourself websites. He specializes in do-it-yourself projects, household and auto maintenance and property management. Yalanovsky also writes a bimonthly column that provides home improvement advice.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Shock absorber image by Neryman from