A new customer recently called us whose friend had observed his vehicle’s tires bouncing “like basketballs” down the freeway! He wondered if this was dangerous.
Yes, this could very well become a dangerous situation. If your vehicle’s tires are not staying in constant contact with the road, control of the vehicle is seriously compromised.
What would cause something like this? Most likely, the bouncing tires indicate worn out or broken shock absorbers. Unfortunately, shock absorbers are one of the most overlooked wear items on vehicles, even though they are the next most important safety items after your brake system. The purpose for shock absorbers is not just to provide a more comfortable ride, but to serve to control the suspension movement so that you, the driver, have more control of your vehicle when braking or steering.
Here’s what can happen if your shock absorbers need to be replaced:
1. Body roll (side to side movement) which adversely impacts handling and control.
2. Loss of traction, which increases stopping distance and negatively affects control and acceleration.
3. Tire cupping/uneven tire wear, which shortens the life and performance of the tires and can cause road noise.
4. Nose dive when brakes are applied, increasing stopping distance, negatively affecting control and can result in premature front brake wear.
5. Bottoming out going over bumps, which negatively affects vehicle handling and control, resulting in premature wear of the suspension components.
6. Acceleration squat (the rear of the vehicle drops upon acceleration), which adversely affects traction, and vehicle handling and control.
In most cases, by the time a vehicle has 50 – 60,000 miles on it, the shocks (or shock absorbers/shock struts) have deteriorated to the point that new shocks will have a noticeable, positive effect on your vehicle’s ride and control.
This wear on your shocks happens so gradually that you may not notice until the shocks are so worn your vehicle is dangerous to drive. About 80% of vehicles in the wrecking yards still have their original shocks, and most were candidates for replacement at least once. If you experience/observe “vibrations” and “bouncing tires” with your vehicle, I encourage you to have your shocks inspected by a shop you trust as soon as possible.
Dean’s Automotive, Inc.