When it comes to the performance of your vehicle’s brakes, the margin of “safety” can often be measured in cm-the few cm you’ve stopped short of another car or that dog or impala darting across the road.
What many vehicle owners don’t realize, however, is that braking performance relies on much more than just the brake system. Shock absorbers, struts, tires and chassis components also play big roles in helping you avoid accidents.
Safe braking depends on consistent, firm contact between your tires and the road. Worn shocks or struts, in particular, can prevent this secure contact by allowing your vehicle’s wheels to “hop” after hitting a pothole, bump or other hazard.
“When the tires aren’t in firm contact with the road, your brakes can’t do their job,” says ride control expert Philip Lutz, Product Manager for Tenneco Inc.’s Monroe® and Rancho® brands of ride control products. “That’s why every brake or tyre job should also include a careful inspection of shocks and struts as well as steering linkage parts like ball joints and tie-rod ends and suspension mountings.”
The primary job of a shock absorber or strut is to provide resistance to the wheel’s natural tendency to bounce away from road impacts. These components also help limit the transfer of vehicle weight from the rear to the front wheels in hard-braking situations. This helps balance the weight over all four wheels for shorter stopping distance and improved stability. Tenneco estimates that shocks and struts provide an average of 21 million of these stabilizing actions every 20,000 km.
“Shocks and struts are obviously wear-intensive parts and should be inspected and replaced as part of normal vehicle maintenance,” Lutz said. Monroe recommends replacing worn shocks and struts every 75 000km for optimum safety and performance.
For more information on how shocks and struts can affect vehicle braking distance and vehicle handling, visit www.monroe.co.za