You are driving down Sunnyside road in Clackamas, passing the neighborhoods and shopping centers as you are thinking about the next item on your to-do list. Suddenly, a Subaru Outback  pulls out of a parking lot… IMMEDIATELY IN FRONT OF YOU. You slam the brakes.

Do you have enough time to stop?

There are many factors that account for your stopping distance. Reaction time, tires, vehicle weight, brakes and much more. One primary part of the stopping distance equation that folks tend to forget about is their struts and shocks.

What do struts do?

Most folks believe that struts are there to make their ride comfortable. In actuality, struts are about safety. The purpose of shocks and struts is to make sure your tires are firmly pressing on the ground during emergency maneuvers. 

If you are attempting to perform an emergency stop, you hit your brakes. Your vehicle decelerates and the vehicle performs a nosedive forward. This nosedive distributes more weight on the front tires and less weight on the back tires. Essentially, this means your vehicle does not have as much traction in the back. The more your vehicle nosedives, the longer your stopping distance.

Struts are there to keep all four tires firmly on the ground. Take a look at a race car moving down the track. You will notice that these vehicles barely nosedive when stopping and they barely sway when taking turns. They are designed this way because maximizing traction enables faster stops and faster turns.

Shocks and Struts, What is the difference?

Shocks and struts are basically the same thing. Both are hydraulic fluid filled tubes. They perform the same tasks as far as safety. However, there are technical differences between the two. Struts are more complex, are typically accompanied by a spring (although shocks may be accompanied by springs as well), and have more leveling and ride comfort characteristics. For the sake of this article, they perform the same function.

How do I know when my struts need service?

Struts do tend to last a long time. However determining exactly when they need to be replaced is up for debate. Generally, struts do not break. They gradually wear over time. This wear happens so slowly that most folks do not notice. But as struts get older, your stopping distance increases. Some mechanics say struts need to be replaced every 60,000 miles.

At Same Day, we recommend replacing struts and shocks based on their performance. If they are leaking or too bouncy, it’s time to replace them. If you do a lot of freeway or high speed driving, struts play a larger role in your safety because you are dealing with larger forces and distances, so you may need your struts replaced more often.

Come by any time and we can perform a free check on your struts.