Without any intrigue, immediately from the threshold: if the shock absorber is leaking, you can’t ride! This is discussed in more detail below. You will also learn how a dry rack “works” and a serviceable one, why they leak, and what are the indirect signs of this breakdown. It will also be useful to know about the possible consequences of operating a car with faulty shock absorbers, what to do in such cases, whether it is possible to save money, and how to do better.

What does it mean - shock absorbers flowed

Since the material is intended for a wide range of readers, it contains a lot of obvious information. But it's not obvious to everyone. Therefore, who is more experienced - treat with understanding. In the end, you, too, did not start to understand cars from scratch. Novice motorists also need to take basic knowledge from somewhere. And finding them today among all the garbage that the modern Internet is full of is not so easy.

So, the shock absorber dripped - what does it mean? To understand the essence, you need at least in general terms to get acquainted with the typical device of this car part. Shock absorbers (they are shock absorber struts or just struts) come in three main types. The most common for many years oil. There are also gas and gas-oil. Actually, the breakdown considered here can happen with racks of any type. But the same malfunction manifests itself in different ways.

Since oil shock absorbers are found on production cars more often than others, let's get acquainted with their device. In the simplest version, the rack is, roughly speaking, a sealed tube, inside which a piston moves with a rod. Physically, this pipe is divided into two compartments connected to each other by bypass holes. Also in the oil shock absorber, as the name implies, is oil.

Oil shock absorber device
Oil shock absorber device

And here's how the whole thing works. The stand is fixed to the machine at two points. The first point is the so-called "glass". In fact, we can assume that this side of the shock absorber is “tightly” attached to the car body. Although, if we consider the front struts, they can rotate in "glasses" on support bearings. In any case, this attachment point cannot move any more.

The second attachment point is the vehicle's movable suspension. What is in front, what is behind - the suspension, along with the wheels, has the ability to move up and down. When this happens, the piston inside the shock absorber moves, squeezing oil into an adjacent compartment. Since the compartments are connected to each other through small holes, liquid cannot quickly flow from one compartment to another. Thanks to this, the effect is obtained, which is popularly called - the stand "holds".

Vehicle suspension device
Vehicle suspension device

We will return to the work of shock absorbers. At this stage, it should be clear what it means if the rack is leaking. This means that the working fluid has partially or completely leaked out of it. The more oil a shock absorber has lost, the worse it does its job. Why this happens is also discussed further. But first, it’s worth understanding how the loss of working fluid affects the functionality of the rack.

How does a dry shock absorber work?

Again, to understand the essence of the matter, it is useful to come from afar. Namely, from where the suspension strut has not yet flowed. That is, it is in good condition. By itself, it works very simply. When the corresponding wheel moves up or down, the load is partially mitigated by the suspension spring. And the shock absorber strut only does what it “holds” the forward movement of the suspension. As it were, it does not allow the wheel to move too quickly under the influence of a sharp load and spring. In addition, the shock absorber dampens the vibrations that the spring seeks to transmit to the wheel.

Car suspension
Car suspension

The rack does this job very simply. Moving in one direction or another, the wheel on the suspension pushes or pulls the shock absorber rod. That, in turn, inside is made in the form of a piston moving in an oily environment. Since the piston cannot quickly transfer fluid to an adjacent compartment, the movement of the rod is constrained.

Typical car suspension device
Typical car suspension device

Now let's look at how a working shock absorber works in different situations and the one that leaked:

  • When hitting a hole. The wheel tends down to the bottom of the pit. The expanding spring contributes to this. However, a good shock absorber "holds" the wheel, preventing it from going down too sharply. Under certain conditions (a small hole and sufficient speed of the car), the wheel may not even “feel” the hole, simply flying over it. If the shock absorber is leaking, it cannot hold the suspension in such situations. Accordingly, a rough blow is obtained.
  • When hitting a hillock. In this case, a serviceable shock absorber at the first stage is even harmful. When hitting a bump, the shock is softened by a spring, and the stand, on the contrary, does not allow you to “take” the entire shock load on yourself. But when the wheel reaches the highest point of the obstacle, by inertia it tends to go up and further. And the stand won't let him do it. As a result, the impact of the wheel into the body is eliminated, and contact with the road surface is restored faster. When the rack is dry, it does not hold back anything. On serious bumps, the wheel hits the body, contact with the road is not restored for a long time, and the car also sways under the influence of the inertia of the spring.
  • During acceleration. The mass of the car is shifted back. When the shock absorbers are in good condition during sharp acceleration, they do not allow the nose of the car to lift up and the stern to “squat”. This is especially important if the car is front-wheel drive, as the grip of the wheels with the road does not deteriorate. When the shock absorber is leaking, the car, with any confident acceleration, looks like that speedboat gliding through the water.
  • When maneuvering. The mass of the vehicle shifts in the direction opposite to the direction of the turn. If the racks are in good condition, then they partially restrain a strong roll, which has a positive effect on the safety and comfort of the car. Additionally, the anti-roll bar is also responsible for this. If the drains flow, then the car rolls unpleasantly and dangerously at every sharp turn, and after the maneuver is completed, it will also sway.
  • When braking. The mass of the car is shifted forward. Serviceable shock absorbers do not allow the body to lean forward sharply and strongly. If the racks are leaking, then the car will nod off when braking. Moreover, due to the even greater displacement of the mass, the grip of the rear wheels with the road is deteriorating. In the event of emergency braking, this increases the stopping distance and can lead to an uncontrolled skid.
  • On a bad road. The suspension works constantly, trying to dampen vibrations and return contact of the wheels with the road surface as quickly as possible. If the shock absorbers flow, the shocks are not completely softened, the vibrations are not damped, and the controllability of the car is also reduced (sometimes disappears altogether).

From all this it follows that dry racks are simply useless. That is, they don't work.

Why shock absorbers leak

There can be several reasons for a leak. Contrary to popular belief, the least likely of them is the age of the shock absorbers. According to the regulations, they are supposed to be changed every 60-80 thousand kilometers. However, this only applies when the machine is operated on normal roads. If we take into account the condition of our roads, then “old age” or even death of the racks can occur at any moment. Even on the day of purchase and installation of new ones. So, if the shock absorbers on your car have served more than 80 thousand kilometers, this does not mean at all that they have flowed from old age.

Leaky shock absorber
Leaky shock absorber

A more likely reason why the struts are leaking is excessive suspension loads. Sometimes just one hole is enough for the shock absorber to “cry”. This happens because the working fluid has nowhere to go during a sharp movement of the piston. Accordingly, it looks for weak points in gaskets and seals, and flows through them.

It is worth noting that not every oil leakage from the shock absorber is fatal to him. If the working fluid leaked out a little as a result of the impact, but the rack itself is not worn out, then it is quite capable of working somehow further. To determine if she can do this, read - how to check shock absorbers.

The next reason why car struts flow is mechanical wear as a result of the destruction of anthers. They protect the mirror surface of the stem from abrasive dust, dirt and sand. If the anthers are cracked, collapsed, slipped from their place or are completely absent, then the rack wears out very quickly, losing tightness. It is clear that as a result of this, the shock absorber may begin to flow even at minimal loads. That is, as they say, out of the blue.

Another possible reason why shock absorbers leak is a large load on a cold suspension. This happens in winter. Under the influence of negative ambient temperature, the working fluid thickens, and its fluidity decreases. As a result, during movement, such oil cannot be normally distilled by the piston from compartment to compartment. That is, again, it has nowhere to go, and it is looking for weak spots to flow out.

In addition to the fact that the viscosity of the working fluid increases in winter, the sealing elements of the shock absorbers “tan” additionally in the cold. This problem is especially affected by cheap fakes, originally made from low-quality raw materials. In order to partially preserve the suspension of the car, it is recommended to always start driving in the cold season so that the shock absorbers are not subjected to shock loads.

Among motorists, there is even a bike walking that the racks need to be “rocked” manually in winter. This is done very simply. Before the start of the trip, you need to press several times on the car body so that each shock absorber is compressed and unclenched. It is believed that due to this, the oil will warm up slightly, and it will be possible to avoid the consequences described above.

As for the effectiveness and expediency of such a "buildup", then who says what. One for doing it this way. Others consider such an activity useless, and even stupid. Either way, it won't get worse. As for warming up, such small loads, most likely, will not be enough for it. So, if you want and have extra time, you can “download”. But it's much better to just start moving, not forcing the cold suspension until it gradually warms up on its own.

The commonplace and obvious causes of shock absorber leakage include careless driving, inattention, and lack of experience. For example, not all motorists are aware of how to properly drive over potholes and other bumps on the road. Therefore, for some, the suspension, even on bad roads, lasts for more than one year, while for others it requires repair almost every spring. Much depends on the quality of the racks. Very often, motorists, trying to reduce the cost of maintaining a car, buy non-original spare parts, which a priori are not required to go for a long time. Even on perfect roads.

Indirect signs of a malfunction

Shock absorber check
Shock absorber check

To see that the shock absorber strut has flowed, just look at the suspension from below. However, it is not always possible to do so. And on some machines, due to the design of the shock absorbers, it is simply not completely visible. Accordingly, it will be useful to know about indirect signs that the rack has leaked.

This includes the following signals:

  • long rocking of the car even on a flat road;
  • knocking when moving over bumps;
  • beating in the steering wheel;
  • severe body roll when accelerating, braking or maneuvering.

It is more difficult to notice, but when the shock absorbers flow, fuel consumption and braking distance increase, the car handles worse, does not hold the road during aggressive driving.

Is it possible to drive and possible consequences

Driving with leaking shock absorbers
Driving with leaking shock absorbers

Now let's answer the most common question: is it possible to ride if the shock absorber has leaked. As it was said at the very beginning of the article - it is impossible. This is a proven rule to which there is only one exception. We will return to it a little later, but for now we will analyze the possible consequences of riding on racks that have flowed.

Firstly, if the shock absorber has flowed even a little, this means that it is already less able to work out the load than it was originally. Accordingly, its resource will rapidly decrease, and there is a high probability of missing the moment when the car is left without this important element at all.

Secondly, if the rear shock absorbers leak, then the braking distance can increase significantly. There is information on the Web that at a speed of 80 km/h it becomes 15% longer in this scenario. In addition, if the car is equipped with an ABS system, due to the inoperative rear pillars, it works out defectively.

Thirdly, when shock loads are damped by the suspension inefficiently, all its parts are subjected to accelerated wear. Including, ball bearings, steering tips, rubber dampers suffer. Even tires wear out faster.

Hence the categorical answer to the question. Yes. Certainly. When the shock absorber has flowed, you can drive more carefully, slowly, and so on. However, the process has already started. Unfortunately, the suspension cannot heal by itself. Therefore, if at least one shock absorber has leaked, you should not drive a car.

Rack leaked - what to do

Broken shock absorbers
Broken shock absorbers

The answer is obvious, probably even for novice motorists. If the shock absorber is leaking, it must be replaced. However, these are not all possible options. First of all, you should know that racks always change in pairs. That is, if only one leaked, it is necessary to change both it and the one that is on the same axis with it. Yes. This is twice as expensive in terms of money. But it is better and more profitable for many reasons. Experienced motorists can confirm this.

Alternatively, leaking shock absorbers can be tried to be restored. Many consider this occupation inappropriate, and they are right in their own way. Nevertheless, such a possibility exists and, I must say, often restored racks go much better and longer than non-original new ones. And the restoration procedure itself is cheaper than buying.

Change shock absorbers in pairs
Change shock absorbers in pairs

VIDEO: how to check bad shock oil leak in car

Brief summary

We repeat, probably for the fourth time already - it’s not worth driving on leaky racks. If you ordered to live alone for a long time, then you need to change two on the same axis. It is more expedient and more profitable from the calculation of the future. Usually, unless the shock absorbers are quite fresh, all four are changed at once. To keep the suspension as a whole longer, and the struts in particular, check their condition regularly. After all, any malfunction noticed in time really saves money. This is a proven fact.