Informational Guide

How Do You Know When To Replace Shocks?

In this guide, we answer how do you know when to replace shocks and 7 common signs.

Automotive shock absorbers are a vital part of the car’s suspension system. You must know when to replace car shocks to ensure a smooth and safe ride.  

How do you know when your car needs new shocks?  

In this guide, we cover how to tell if your car needs new shocks by outlining the top symptoms. 

How long can you drive with bad shocks? You shouldn’t drive at all once you notice there is something wrong. Bad shocks lead to the following issues. 

  • Poor Road Holding 
    Worn shocks make it difficult for the tires to stay in contact with the ground, leading to trouble controlling the vehicle.
  • Worn Tires 
    When the shocks are worn, the tires bounce around on the road, leading to flat spots and tire cracks reducing the lifespan. 
  • Poor Braking 
    As the tires bounce on the road, the brakes can’t perform their job. This lack of braking power means it will be longer until the vehicle stops. 
  • Hydroplaning 
    If the tires and shocks are worn, the car can’t make contact with the road, which is a big problem as the ground becomes wet. If hydroplaning begins, you can lose control of the vehicle. 
  • Component Wear 
    As the suspension moves more, other suspension and steering components can fail, leading to a more extensive repair bill. 
  • Headlight Dazzle 
    If your car is bouncing on the road at night, the change in the headlight illumination can hinder the visibility of oncoming traffic. 
shock absorber

How Do You Know To Replace Shocks? (7 Common Signs)

How do you know when to replace front shocks or when to replace rear shocks? These symptoms could indicate worn shocks that are ready to be replaced.  

1. Bumpy Ride

How do I know if my car needs new shocks? A bumpy ride is often the first indication that something is wrong. You will feel more bumps and have a shaky ride when the shocks have failed. You might also lose control when the car hits a pothole or large bump.  

2. Steering Problems

Pay attention to difficulty steering. If the steering feels off during a turn or you are having trouble maneuvering the vehicle into its lane, worn shocks or other suspension components could be to blame. In conjunction, the steering wheel could become stiffer. 

3. Braking Problems

When you brake, a bad shock can cause the vehicle to become unstable. You might notice trouble controlling the vehicle while it is slowing down or stopping. It could also lurch forward or take a nosedive when you push the brake pedal.  

4. Fluid Leaks

If you perform a visual inspection of the shocks, you could notice some leaking fluid. While this won’t be as apparent as a major system leak with the engine or transmission, you can see it if you get up close and personal with the shocks.  

5. Unusual Tire Tread Wear

When the suspension doesn’t do its job, the tires bounce around on the road leading to uneven tread wear. It’s going to appear different than if you simply had old tires. You might even notice some cups on the edge of the tread, indicating a dangerous situation.  

6. Mileage 

Your car’s mileage can also tell you when to replace shocks. Most shocks should be replaced every 50,000 miles. At this point, the shocks should at least be checked more frequently, whether there are symptoms of them failing or not.  

7. Knocking Or Rattling Sounds 

The suspension should not make any noise when everything is in good condition. If you start to notice any rattling or knocking sounds, it’s time to have the shocks and other parts of the suspension checked for wear.  

blue spring

How To Check If You Have Bad Shock Absorbers

When does a car need new shocks? After looking through the signs above, you can follow a few steps to check if the shocks might be failing.  

  1. 1
    Check the tires for signs of wear. Most of the wear caused by bad shocks occurs around the edge of the tread. 
  2. 2
    Inspect the shocks for signs of oil leaking. As the shocks age, the seal around the piston can fail, allowing oil to seep through. 
  3. 3
    Do a bounce test. Push down on the front fender of the vehicle on the side you think is failing. If the car does bounce and stabilizes, the shocks are fine. However, if there is a continual bounce, the shocks might have failed.  

Ideally, you will have a mechanic check the shocks for a definitive answer. At the first sign of trouble, have the shocks inspected before further dangers occur.

These parts do not last forever. Learn more about expected shock length here.

car tire

How To Replace Your Car Shocks?

If you have some basic mechanical knowledge and the right tools, you could change your own shocks. However, you want to talk to a professional if the job feels like it’s over your head. 

Materials Needed: 

Instructions for Replacement 

  1. 1
    Chock the wheels. 
  2. 2
    Raise the affected portion of the vehicle and secure it on jack stands. 
  3. 3
    Remove the upper shock bolt first and move onto the lower shock bolt. 
  4. 4
    Install the new shock and secure it. 
  5. 5
    Lower the vehicle and test drive it.  

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Should you replace all 4 shocks at the same time? 

Now that you know when to replace shocks on a truck, how many should you put on? At the very least, you should always replace shocks in pairs, both front and rear. However, it doesn’t hurt to replace all four at the same time, considering they have all seen the same amount of wear.  

How much does it cost to replace a front shock? 

Replacing a pair of front shocks should cost between $200 and $600 in most cases. The shocks cost around $50 to $200, while the labor can rack up another $150 to $400.  

How much does it cost to replace a rear shock? 

Replacing a pair of rear shocks may cost between $200 and $600 for most vehicles. The shocks cost around $50 to $200, while labor could add another $150 to $400.  

How long does it take to replace shocks on a car? 

To replace one set of shocks, you might spend two to three hours, depending on what type of vehicle you drive. Changing out the car’s struts takes about double the time of shocks.  


When do shock absorbers need to be replaced? If your shocks have reached the end of their life, you might notice some of the symptoms we outlined above.

Knowing when to replace shock absorbers helps you remain safe on the road and avoid further wear to other suspension components. Have your shocks checked if you notice anything strange so you can arrive at your destination safely.