Spring Dampers Replacement Guide

Posted on Dec 23, 2020

Spring Dampers

Most spring dampers are either a twin-tube or mono-tube model with some variations. There are usually a few other functions to shocks other than acting as a spring-damper. They are also utilized to limit suspension droop travel and suspension jounce (bump) travel.

What Is a Spring Damper

A spring damper, also commonly known as the shock absorber, is a mechanical or hydraulic device that functions to absorb damp shock impulses. Most spring dampers are a form of dashpot, meaning they resist motion through viscous friction. Spring dampers are intended to control spring oscillation. This is done by damping the spring’s natural tendency to oscillate by using hydraulic fluid. A spring that is un-damped will vibrate for quite a while after its primary compression or extension. Spring dampers can lower the spring’s oscillation to one complete cycle.

There are usually a few other functions to shocks other than acting as a spring-damper. They are also utilized to limit suspension droop travel and suspension jounce (bump) travel. Another component of the spring damper, struts, have a very essential secondary function. Struts are an integral part of the suspension. While a shock can be removed with minimal consequences, the suspension will collapse if a strut is removed, unable to hold the automobile off the ground.

Types of Spring Dampers

Most spring dampers are either a twin-tube or mono-tube model with some variations.

Twin-tube Dampers

Twin-tube dampers are also known as the two-tube shock absorber. They consist of two cylindrical tubes, an inner tube that is referred to as the “working tube” or the “pressure tube”, and an outer tube called the “reserve tube”. There is a compression valve or base valve located inside the twin-tube dampers. When the position is altered as the car goes up or down on a bumpy road, hydraulic fluid flows among different chambers through small holes in the piston and via the valve, converting the shock into heat which must then be dissipated.

Mono-tube Dampers

The design of a mono-tube shock was considered a revolutionary development that appeared in the 1950s. As the name suggests, mono-tube dampers consist of only one tube (the pressure tube), with two pistons. These pistons are called the working pistons or the floating pistons, which move in relative synchrony inside the pressure tube in response to the driving condition of the road. The two pistons entirely separate the shock’s fluid and gas components as well. Mono-tube spring dampers are normally much longer than twin-tube spring dampers, making it hard to mount in passenger cars designed for twin-tube spring dampers. However, unlike the twin-tubes spring dampers, mono-tube spring dampers can be mounted either way as it does not have any directionality. A mono-tube spring damper also does not have a compression valve, whose role has been replaced by the floating piston. And although it contains nitrogen gas, the gas in a mono-tube spring damper is under high pressure which can greatly help it to support some of the vehicle's weight.

:: Read More: Choosing the Best Shock Absorbers for Vehicles

Should I Replace a Damaged or Broken Spring Dampers

Spring dampers in every car, truck, SUV are bound to wear out slowly with time, which can make certain parts of the suspension break completely. Now the question is, will your car still be safe to drive in this case? Just don't do it! Worn-out shock can make your ride on the road uncomfortable and even pose safety issues. Fortunately, the common symptoms of worn shock are noticeable, indicating that it is time to replace your damper. Here are the signs:

Car Veering or Sliding in Side Winds

Unless you are driving through a huge storm or tornado (which may not likely be the case), this could be an indication of you dealing with a spring-damper problem. Worn or leaking shocks can cause unsteadiness on the road, posing a threat to all the passengers in the vehicle.

Uneven Wear Appearing on the Tires

This sign means that your vehicle is crying rigorously for immediate attention. When the shocks are worn, your spring dampers are not able to keep your tires firmly on the road, and this could lead to serious consequences. Your tires must maintain uniform and even contact with the road in accordance with the intended performance by your manufacturers. Uneven tire wear can increase the risk of hydroplaning, leaving you more susceptible to a sudden flat.

Rolling, Rocking, or Rattling

When your vehicle shakes, rattles, or rocks a bit too hard when driving on a road with minor bumps, this means you are probably dealing with worn shocks. Your car’s shocks are supposed to control the impact and vibration of a vehicle’s springs and suspension, worn ones will not be able to soften the impact and blows of the road. If this problem is not soon addressed, it can affect other parts of the car and can potentially lead to more serious shock troubles.

Swerving and Dipping When Applying Brakes

If you feel strong recoil or, worse yet, any swerving, your car may have worn shocks. This could be especially dangerous during wetter weather.

Excessive Vibration on Your Steering Wheel

Driving on a bumpy road surface can naturally make the steering wheel vibrate a little, and should go away as soon as you reach a smooth surface. If the vibration persists while you are driving, it may be a sign that the car’s shock is worn out. When you are traveling at a high speed (on a highway, for instance), these vibrations can become more intense than you can imagine, making your car more difficult to control and maneuver.

Delayed Stopping Distance

Worn spring dampers can increase your braking distance, and this is extremely dangerous during rainy weather. If you start to notice a longer and longer stopping distance of your brake, your spring damper is likely to have an issue. You will need to visit a workshop for a brake inspection immediately. Experienced technicians should be able to diagnose the real issue and advise the resolution. 

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