3 Symptoms of a Blown Strut

As your vehicle rolls down the highway, do you spend much time thinking about the engineering required to keep the ride smooth and enjoyable? The details of your suspension might not seem like pressing concerns, but a worn suspension can substantially impact your car's ride quality. Your struts are one of the most critical wear components to keep in mind.

Although the terms are used interchangeably by many people, shocks and struts are not the same part. Many vehicles use shocks on the rear wheels and struts on the front wheels. Since your car may have struts in front, they often have a more substantial impact on ride quality. Recognizing these three signs of a blown strut can help to ensure your vehicle rides smoothly and handles well.

1. Instability

Your struts help to dampen the vertical motion of your shocks as your car moves along the road. Without your struts, each bump would send your wheels bouncing up and down until your springs returned to their natural resting state. With blown out struts, you get a similar bouncing effect.

Although many people notice the reduction in ride quality first, it can be helpful to pay attention to your handling at speed. As your struts wear out, the subtle loss of dampening can make your car feel less stable. Even before you notice the telltale swaying of completely blown struts, you may notice the lack of stability caused by inadequate damping.

2. Unusual Tire Wear

The subtle up-and-down bouncing caused by worn struts can impact other components, as well. By dampening the bounce of your springs, your struts help to keep your tires in contact with the road. As your struts wear out, your tires have more difficulty maintaining constant contact with the driving surface.

Lack of consistent contact impacts your car's grip and reduces handling, but it will also wear your tires out more quickly. Tires on vehicles with bad struts tend to exhibit what's known as a "cupping" wear pattern. If left for long enough, this unusual wear will force you to replace your tires prematurely.

3. Loud Clunks

If you hear a *clank!* as your car hits potholes, then it's a good indication that you may have one or more blown struts. Without your struts to dampen their motion, your springs can fully compress and reach the bottom of their travel. The noise you are hearing is the sound of your suspension components reaching their absolute limits.

Not only is the sound unsettling, but a bottomed out suspension can wreak havoc on your handling. A fully compressed spring behaves differently from one that is appropriately dampened, and your car may behave erratically whenever your suspension bottoms out. This unusual behavior can create dangerous situations when it occurs at the wrong time.

Worn struts are uncomfortable to ride on, wear out other components more quickly, and may even lead to a hazardous loss of handling. If your car is exhibiting any of the symptoms described above, it's time to have it diagnosed and repaired by an auto repair shop.

For more information, talk to an auto shop like Powers Car Care Centers.