How to test shock absorbers to see if they need to be replaced?

Standard shock absorbers seldom last longer than 20,000 to 25,000 miles. If your car handles poorly, bottoms out on slight bumps, and rides roughly, check the shocks.

For a quick test, park the car on a level area with the engine off, transmission in Park (or gears engaged), and parking brake on;┬áthen pull up and down on one end of the front bumper so that the car bounces. Release the bumper at the low point of a bounce. The car should settle level after one upward bounce. If it doesn’t, the shock in that corner may be bad. Repeat for the other three corners.

For a more thorough check, jack up the car and support it on safety stands. Inspect each shock separately. If possible, disconnect the lower end and extend, then compress, the shock.

If you do not feel smooth, heavy resistance, or if you find dents or significant leakage, replace both shocks on that axle.

Many late-model cars have MacPherson struts, which combine shocks with suspension arms. Have a mechanic check and replace these.