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How much does it cost to replace a shock absorber and when to replace it

What do shock absorbers do?

If your car tyres are bouncing up and down like you’re in a Mario Kart game, it could be a sign that your shock absorbers are in a bad condition and need to be replaced. The primary job of the shocks is to absorb vibrations and control the movement of the suspension springs, ensuring a smooth ride. Without these damper components, the springs would extend and rebound at an uncontrolled rate, releasing the energy from impacts such as potholes. In short, it would be an extremely bumpy ride and the vehicle would be more difficult to control.

By absorbing road shocks, these components also ensure that the tyres maintain contact with the road surface. This is normally achieved by turning the kinetic energy into heat energy using hydraulic fluid and often a pressurised gas. This heat is then dissipated into the atmosphere. Unfortunately, if the shocks become worn or get damaged, they can fail internally or the fluid or gas may leak out. If and when they go bad, it’s strongly recommended that you get new rear and front shock absorbers for your car.

replacement shock absorbers cost

Types of shocks

  • Hydraulic

Traditional shocks are like oil pumps. They usually consist of a cylinder or tube, an air compression chamber and a piston rod. As the suspension travels, the hydraulic fluid is forced through tiny holes in the piston, creating resistance. When the piston is slowed down, so is the movement of the springs. These components are cheap to produce and suitable for normal driving conditions. The main disadvantage is that in harsher conditions, the oil can start to boil and foam, which is something known as cavitation. This makes the pressure and therefore damping inconsistent.

  • Gas-charged

These look similar to all-hydraulic devices except the compression chamber contains pressurised nitrogen gas instead of air. The nitrogen gas compresses the oil which prevents cavitation. This makes them more suitable for heavy-duty vehicles and high-performance cars. Many modern vehicles are fitted with this type of shock absorber, however, for classic cars (e.g. those built in the 60s, 70s or early 80s), they may be unsuitable and too “stiff”.

Some brands also offer adjustable shocks which are specially designed for tuning, such as Monroe shock absorbers with intelligent RideSense technology. These allow the suspension to be adjusted to different driving environments and needs.

How often do you need to replace the shock absorbers?

replace shock absorbers

As a general rule, the shock absorbers should last around 50,000 miles before they need to be replaced. However, their service life can be affected by a number of factors, such as the load they are subjected to and the driving conditions. If you regularly drive offroad or on poor quality roads, they probably won’t last as long as they would for a driver who mostly drives on motorways.

If you’re replacing the components yourself, you will need to make sure that you have the proper shock absorber tools. Prices vary depending on the vehicle manufacturer and model.

TOP 5 mistakes when replacing shock absorbers

How much do replacement shock absorbers cost?

The cost of replacing shock absorbers will depend on the vehicle make and model, where you get the work done, and where the parts are positioned on the car. In the UK, the average cost of a replacement for the rear shock absorbers is £259, while the average cost for replacing the front shocks is around £312. The price of shock absorbers ranges from £130 to £650.

The components are normally replaced in pairs and the replacement itself typically takes between 1.5 and 4 hours. Before you install new shocks on your car, it’s advisable to inspect the entire suspension for faults, including the control arms, ball joints, and front and rear coil springs.

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