Do you experience excessive bounce when you drive, or maybe your vehicle nose dives when you hit the brakes? Are you wondering why is my car bumpy when I drive? This is a very common problem but many people overlook it.
Why is my car bumpy when I drive? Your car is bumpy when you drive because your shocks or struts are worn out and need replacing. The shocks and struts are in charge of decreasing the movement of the spring and to stop oscillation and bounce. Having faulty shocks and struts may actually increase the braking distance of your vehicle making it a safety risk.
Why Is My Car Bumpy When I Drive
If your car is bumpy when you drive, this could be a sign that your shocks or struts are worn out and need replacing. Every vehicle on the road has shocks or struts. But, you probably don’t give them much thought. Did you know that shocks and struts are some of the most important components in our vehicles? Now, most people think shocks and struts are strictly used for creating stability and that cushy ride we all love so much. While that’s part of what they do, it’s far from the whole story.
But, before we get into just how important shocks and struts are, let’s clarify a common misconception. Shocks and struts are not the same things. They’re actually two completely independent components. The terms are often used interchangeably. While both components dampen the movement of the spring and stop oscillation and bounce, a shock cannot be used to replace a strut and a strut cannot be used to replace a shock. Your vehicle may have shocks, or it may have struts. Some vehicles even have both.
The shocks and struts are so important to our vehicles. Believe it or not, shocks and struts are critical to safe driving. That’s because your vehicle’s ability to stop depends on firm contact between your tires on the road and proper distribution of vehicle weight from front to rear.
If your shocks and struts are worn out and you apply the brakes, the weight from the back of the vehicle is transferred to the front of your car, causing it to nosedive and resulting in compromised contact.
You probably don’t really notice it because you’ll still stop. But, the distance it takes for you to come to that complete stop is longer than if your shocks and struts were operating at a hundred percent efficiency. The extra braking distance could be anywhere between 10-20 feet, depending on the speed you are traveling.
Extra 20 feet of braking distance might not sound a lot. But, when you need to stop fast, that extra distance matters a lot. So, having durable shocks and struts that aren’t worn out can help keep you safe on the road.
How To Know if My Shocks and Struts Aren’t Fully Operational
So, what’s the best way to ensure your shocks and struts are operating at peak performance? There are some signs that you want to watch out for:
1. Oil and grime buildup
The first sign to look for is oil and grime buildup on the shocks and struts. This is usually an indicator that the seal that is housing the oil has deteriorated. You can do a visual inspection and look for any oil and grime, or you can take your vehicle to the repair shop and have the inspection done by a professional mechanic. I usually do this myself by picking up the top boot of the strut. If there is any oil or grime on my hands, it’s time for a shock or struts replacement.
2. Excessive tire bounce
The second sign that your shocks and struts are not fully operational is excessive tire bounce. That happens because the tires aren’t by the shocks and struts. You’ll probably start to notice cupping on the surface of the tire. The tire tread cupping will look almost like shallow ice cream scoops taken out of the tire that occurred from the excessive wheel bouncing.
3. Steering wheel shaking after a bump
If your steering wheel is shaking after you get on a bumpy road, your shocks and struts might need replacing. This can happen if you are driving 30 or 40 miles per hour and the road gets bumpy. The steering wheel will shake all the time while you are on a bumpy road.
If you experience any of these signs, you need to take your vehicle to the repair shop and replace your shocks and struts.