A shock absorber is an essential part of a vehicle’s suspension system. The component helps to control the motion of the vehicle’s springs. This operation prevents excessive bouncing and ensures a smooth ride.
However, shock absorbers can develop leaks for various reasons over time. A leaking shock absorber can significantly impact your vehicle’s suspension system. This could compromise the vehicle’s performance and your overall driving experience.
To address this issue, it is essential to take prompt action. Hence, this article will provide a precise step-by-step guide on how to fix a leaking shock absorber. However, before that, let’s look at the causes of shock absorbers leak. If you’re currently faced with this challenge, ensure to digest the full content of this post.
What Causes Shock Absorbers to Leak?
Do shock absorbers leak oil? Absolutely! A vehicle’s shock absorbers can develop leaks due to various factors. Below are some of the common causes of shock absorber leaks.
Wear and tear
Modern shocks are designed with extended service life. They typically go over 50,000 miles. However, as the shock absorbers age, the seals that keep the hydraulic fluid can degrade and begin to leak. Constant compression and extension cycles can weaken the seals, allowing fluid to escape from a bad shock absorber.
The shock absorbers, like most vehicle parts, are susceptible to corrosion. Constant exposure to moisture, road salt, and other elements causes corrosion on the shocks. This can lead to cracks or tiny perforations in the outer casing. These escape points create a pathway for the fluid to leak.
Frequently towing loads beyond the recommended weight limits can strain the shock absorbers. This excess stress puts pressure on the seals. The excessive pressure causes them to deteriorate and eventually result in leaks.
Bad road conditions
Driving over potholes and speed bumps subject shock absorbers to excessive force. The consistent impacts can cause damage to the seals, leading to leaks.
Aggressive driving behaviors can accelerate wear and tear in vehicle components. Rapid acceleration, hard braking, and rough handling can impact the shocks negatively due to vibration. The constant jolts from aggressive driving can cause the seals to degrade and eventually leak.
New shocks leaking oil are a sign of manufacturing defects. The flaws could be due to the inferior quality materials used in the construction. In other cases, the seals may be poorly designed. This can lead to leaks.
Incorrect installation or poor workmanship during shock absorbers repair/replacement can cause leaks.
If the seals are not properly aligned, it can lead to premature failure. This subsequently results in leakage. Hence, the need to contact an expert to install the components correctly.
Road accidents can damage a vehicle’s components and result in malfunctions. A crash that causes the shocks to bend or affect the seal will eventually result in leaks.
How to Fix Leaking Shock Absorber
Once a car’s shock absorber leaks, its ability to dampen vibrations is compromised. Therefore, to ensure optimal safety and ride comfort, promptly fix the problem. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to fix a leaking shock absorber.
Step 1: Identify the leaking shock absorber.
Firstly, take a moment to examine the shocks on all four wheels of your vehicle. This will enable you to determine the leaking shock absorber. Ensure to look for signs of oil leakage around the shock absorbers.
Step 2: Get the necessary tools.
Before commencing the repair process, ensure to get all the necessary equipment. Do well to get a jack, jack stands, a torque wrench, and a socket wrench set. You may need some replacement parts and new mounting hardware.
Step 3: Jack up the vehicle
Use a jack to lift the side of the vehicle with the leaking shock absorber. Make sure the car is securely supported on jack stands before continuing.
Step 4: Remove the old shock absorber.
Take off the bolts securing the shocks to the suspension mount and lower mounting point. You will need a socket wrench to do that. Take note of the orientation of the shock absorber and any washers or bushings you may need to reinstall.
Step 5: Inspect and clean the components.
Now, inspect the various parts of the shocks for any damage or wear. Carefully check the bushings, pistons, seals, and mounting points. You may need also to drain the compression oil. Additionally, thoroughly clean the parts to remove any dirt or debris.
Once you identify the faulty components responsible for the leak, kindly replace them. This may include worn-out or damaged seals, bushings, washers, etc.
Step 7: Install a new shock absorber.
If you notice that merely repairing the shocks will not do much, ensure to get a new replacement. Some faults can be irreparable. In that case, installing a new shock absorber is the best option.
Step 8: Repeat the process for all leaking shock absorbers
If you identified multiple leaking shock absorbers, kindly repeat steps 3-7. Do this for each affected shock absorber. Ensure that the repair or part replacement is thoroughly performed.
Step 9: Lower the vehicle and test the shocks.
Lastly, carefully lower the vehicle from the jack stands. After that, take your car for a test drive. This will help you check the performance of the newly installed shock absorbers.
Ensure to pay attention to the vehicle’s handling and ride quality. With this, you’ll be able to know whether or not the shock absorbers are functioning correctly.
Do leaking shocks make noise?
Yes, leaking shock absorbers make banging or rattling noise as you drive over bumpy roads. In most cases, the sound is an indication of bad bushings. At other times, it may result from complete exhaustion of oil.
Whatever the case may be, leaking shocks come with several inconveniences. Besides the discomfort from the shocks’ inability to dampen vibrations, your safety is threatened.
Are leaking rear shocks dangerous?
Leaking rear shocks can result in accidents. In other words, driving with the components in that state is dangerous. Leaking shock absorbers cannot dampen vibrations and enhance control.
As you pass through bumpy roads, your car will most likely bounce excessively. The vehicle’s instability and poor control will result in a strenuous driving experience.
What color is shock absorber fluid?
The shock absorber fluid color is nearly clear (with a tinge of yellow) or amber. If you see this fluid around the shocks or dripping on the ground, ensure to inspect the shocks. You may have a leaky shock absorber that requires immediate attention.
So, ensure to diagnose the component accurately. Carefully ascertain what may be wrong and replace any faulty parts. If the shock absorber is completely bad, you may need a replacement.
What happens if you don’t replace leaking shocks?
Failure to replace leaking shocks will negatively impact your car’s brakes. You will experience loss of traction and reduced braking efficiency. This will result in increased stopping distance. Your vehicle may also nose-dive as you apply the brakes.
Again, if your shocks are leaking, they cannot dampen vibrations from bad roads. This will further lead to annoying discomfort as you drive.
Driving with faulty or leaking shock absorbers can be frustrating. In that state, the components cannot deliver as expected. All you will experience is discomfort from random vibrations and jolting.
Understanding how to fix leaking shock absorbers will help you overcome this challenge. This article has provided a solution above. However, if you need help with performing the task perfectly, kindly contact an expert.
Meanwhile, regular maintenance can help you prevent shock absorber leaks. Also, a consistent inspection can help you identify any underlying faults before they escalate.