Essential components subject to wear and tear that can affect roadholding
Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Worn shock absorbers can pose a deadly threat to UAE car drivers and their passengers, warns a leading auto parts expert. Asad Badami, Managing Director of A-MAP, one of the Gulf's foremost distributors of automotive accessories, says that the importance of the vital car components is not understood by many and that signs of them failing are often not detected.
“Shock absorbers are essential vehicle components that keep the car's wheels in contact with the road. They work by smoothing out and dampening impulses that would otherwise be transmitted from the asphalt to the car chassis,” said Badami. “This vital equipment dissipates energy that could otherwise damage the car or affect its ability to stay on the road. Any wear and tear that compromises this ability can have serious consequences for the vehicle's steering, stability, handling and braking, which can have disastrous consequences for the driver, their passengers, other road users and pedestrians,” he added.
It has been estimated that worn shock absorbers can add as much as 20 per cent to a car's stopping distance – a potentially fatal increase. Recent international surveys show that the problem is widespread. In Britain, it was found that over six million of the 25 million cars on the road had at least one worn shock absorber, while in Belgium, research revealed that a fifth to a quarter of all motorists are driving cars with worn absorbers.
Exacerbating the issue is that wear and tear on shock absorbers is difficult to ascertain. Tyres can be easily assessed for reduced tread, and brake wear activates a dashboard warning light on modern vehicles, but shock absorbers are hidden away under the vehicle wheel arches and are not linked to the car's warning display system. The diminished performance of worn shock absorbers is also subtle and difficult to gauge.
Among the manifestations of shock absorber wear and tear are an increased risk of skidding in wet conditions, less control when cornering, increased wear of tyres and other suspension components, steering wheel vibration and an uneven headlight level that can dazzle on-coming vehicles during night time driving. The least of the symptoms increase driver and passenger discomfort; the worst potentiate the danger posed by the increase in braking distance.
Badami, whose organisation retails Asimco gas and oil shock absorbers, says that car owners can perform a simple check to see if their shock absorbers may need replacing.
“Pressing down on the bonnet or hood of a car and watching it spring back can help determine the condition of the vehicle's shock absorbers,” he said. “If the front of the car rocks upwards and downwards more than once, it can indicate that the absorbers are worn and not functioning as they should. If you observe this, you should take your car to your local service centre and have them checked out by professional mechanics,” he said.