Informational Guide

Do Car Shocks Leak?

What are the signs, symptoms, and solutions for leaking shocks? We have covered it all.

The automotive shocks on your vehicle are meant to buffer the imperfections of the road and create a safe ride. But, do car shocks leak and go bad?

Absolutely, but it's not a normal occurrence! Leaking shocks can be caused by a variety of issues and indicate a problem has occurred.  

In this guide, we look at why the shocks are leaking oil and show you the best leaking shock absorber repair. 

What causes a leaking shock absorber? If shocks are leaking on a car, there could be many reasons. Here are a few of the top causes for leaking shocks on a car. 

  • Worn Or Cracked Seals  
     When the seals on the shocks crack or become worn out, oil can leak. This happens most frequently as the car goes over bumps.  
  • Faulty Valve  
    If the valve on the side is faulty, liquid can flow out while taking turns.  
  • Weak Shocks  
    As the shocks become weaker, the oil can leak from the housing. Hydraulic fluid is pushed out of the reservoir when the shocks compress.  
  • Bent Shocks  
    Any time that the structure of the shock is hindered or damaged, oil can leak from the pressurized tube.  
  • Worn Out Shock Parts  
    If the bearings or piston rod pins become worn, oil can seep out through the weak parts. This is most prevalent as the shocks endure more stress. Worn out parts can lead to the failure of other suspension components 
  • Loose Or Damaged Seal On Shock Shaft  
    If the seal of the shaft was damaged or loose from a recent installation, oil could come out of the shocks. This is why it’s so important to have a professional install the shocks.  
shock absorber

How To Tell If You Have Leaking Shocks? (5 Common Signs)

Whether the offside rear shock absorber has a serious fluid leak or you are noticing small symptoms, it’s important to be aware of any sign that something is wrong. Here are some ways to discover if a shock absorber is leaking oil. 

1. Oil Mist Residue On Car Shocks

The piston rod carries oil from the cylinder to the seal. If the seal is dry, the oil can seep out.

2. Oil On Car Shocks 

Worn piston rod seals can be caused by excessive runtime, lots of stress, and driving in dirty conditions. When oil leaks, the damping force is also reduced.  

3. Underbody Sealant On Car Shocks

If you see underbody sealant on the shocks, it was likely due to a simple misapplication. Remove it so you can get a better idea of what’s happening.  

4. Worn Out Chrome Coating On Piston Rod 

The chrome coating can wear out because of the misaligned attachment point or distortion of the damper. Not only will there be oil loss, but you might also notice a reduction in performance.  

5. Damaged Piston Rod

Most damage occurs during assembly, leading to a tear in the seal. 

Symptoms of Leaking Shocks While The Car Is Running

Here are some of the top leaking shock absorber symptoms you might notice. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should have the shocks checked immediately.  

  • Nosediving While Braking 
    If the shocks are leaking fluid, you could notice a reduction in braking power.
  • Vibration In Steering Wheel 
    When the front shocks are leaking, vibrations might be felt in the steering system. 
  • Rattling And Vibrating Noises 
    Strange suspension noises can point to a leaking shock. 
  • Vehicle Takes Bumps Harshly 
    With the oil seeping out of the shock, bumps might not be taken as smoothly.
  • Vehicle Body Bounces 
    A simple suspension bounce test can help you determine if the shocks are worn or leaking. 

Are Leaking Shocks Dangerous? Is The Car Still Safe To Drive?

How long can a car run with its shocks leaking? Any time that your shock absorbers have been compromised, you should have them checked out. The defective shocks can cause poor handling and lead to abnormal tire tread wear. All of these problems compound to create a dangerous situation on the road. 

If you were to hit a bump with bad shock absorbers, you could lose control of the vehicle. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when dealing with the safety of your loved ones and others on the road. Have the shocks checked at the first sign of trouble.  

dual shock absorbers

How Do You Fix Leaking Shocks On Your Car?

In some cases, you can perform a shock absorber leak fix on your own. If you aren’t looking to deal with the average front or rear shocks leaking cost, consider these options instead. 

  1. 1
    Check the fluid level in the reservoir. Add more if needed. 
  2. 2
    Replace the seals on the shock absorber if your model allows it. 
  3. 3
    In most cases, you will need to replace the leaking shock absorber to repair it. When you replace the shock absorber, remember to do so in pairs so that the performance is the same, either in the front or rear of the vehicle.  

If the rear shocks are leaking or you notice one of the front shock absorbers is leaking and you can’t figure out how to repair it, you will need to visit a mechanic. Don’t take chances by letting the situation get worse.  

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How long do shock absorbers typically last? 

Depending on how you drive your vehicle and the environment, the shocks might last 50,000 to 100,000 miles. Have them checked at the first sign of wear to ensure your on-road safety.  

Is a leaking shock a DOT violation? 

The state inspection laws vary. You will need to check local laws and regulations to see what is considered legal where you drive. In some cases, a leaking shock could cause you to fail an inspection.  

Why is my motorcycle rear shock leaking oil? 

In most cases, the motorcycle shock leaks oil because of a defective seal. In some cases, the bike shock can be rebuilt, but some shocks require replacement once leakage occurs.  

How much does it cost to fix a leaking shock absorber? 

The average shock absorber leaking cost is around $150 to $600 to replace a pair of shocks. You might only spend $50 to $200 for the parts, so you can save money by replacing the shocks yourself. 

What happens if I don’t replace my leaking car shocks? 

If you don’t have good shocks on your vehicle, you might encounter issues with the handling, steering, and braking. These problems increase your risk of getting into an accident.  


Defective shock absorbers can leak oil due to damage or simply being worn out. If you notice oil leaking on the shocks, it’s often a sign that replacement is required.