Mr. Steele, I saw your article in wheels 101 today where you mention changing shocks to improve ride on a truck. I have a 1994 Chrysler New Yorker with 102,000 miles on it.
How can I test to see if shocks & struts should be replaced? Mechanics say they just look for oil leaking from the part, but I bet there is a better way? What are some shock & struts you would recommend to a friend or relative?
The main function of shocks and struts is to aid in ride-control by damping the bouncing effect of the spring loaded suspension. This helps control wheel movement which keeps the tires planted firmly on the road. Worn shocks and/or struts reduce this control which hampers ride, handling, braking, tire wear and safety.
There are several areas to check when inspecting shocks and struts. Yes, the first thing to do is to take a quick look for leaks of hydraulic fluid and physical damage including mounting hardware, grommets and bushings. Then we can push down and release on the bumper at each corner of the vehicle to check for excessive bounce. Two or three times is considered too much.
A road test to check for excessive dive of the front end while braking and/or too much continued bouncing after going over bumps. Often the driver has the best outlook on the performance of a suspension because they know how it used to ride and how it rides today.
Your New Yorker has struts front and rear, and if they are the originals at 102,000 miles, and you are noticing reduced ride and handling quality, then replace them. You are sure to note an improvement.
Strut replacement is significantly more expensive than conventional shock absorbers due to the costs of both parts and labor. I'd suggest going with the struts from one of the big and well-priced manufacturers like Monroe or Gabriel for your particular vehicle. There will be several to select from depending on how much money you want to spend.