Shock Me: Shocks, Struts and Tires

 

Dear Bree,

I am seeing some funky wear on my tires, and I need some help figuring out what the heck is going on.  There are some little chunks missing from my tires—and it’s all the way around!  I don’t remember running over a hole puncher, so what the heck is going on?  Are my tires being eaten by squirrels?!  I’m going to guess I need some new ones now, but I’d like to figure out what’s gone wrong before I screw up another set.  Thanks, Bree!

Holed up in Indiana

 

Dear Holed Up,

That doesn’t sound good, but I think I may have an idea what’s going on here.  How’s your car riding?  A little bumpier than usual, maybe?  Little cups of missing tire, or scalloping around the circumference of your tire usually points to a problem with your shocks.  In fact, this is a pretty specific wear pattern and it only points to one thing—shocks.  That’s why I asked how your car is riding because when you have a problem with your shocks, there are a couple of things you’ll notice besides those scallops.  For instance, when you go over a bump, do you bounce a lot more than you should?  Is your car riding a little lower than it used to?  Any leakage happening around the shock body tube (granted you know what that is or can find it)?  Some weird noises coming from under your car when you hit a bump or turn?  Is your car leaning too far like your aunt Minnie when you take a turn or making a creaking noise?  If your car is doing any or all of these things, you should have it checked out—it may be the cause of your tire problems.

So, here’s the deal with shocks:  You need them because they keep your vehicle stable so you can stay in control.  Shocks keep your tires from bouncing and your vehicle body weight from shifting and/ or rolling.  How do they do that, you ask?  Here’s how: The shock absorber regulates the movement of the spring so that, when you do actually hit a bump, the shock absorbers dampen the springs so you don’t bounce all over the place (and keep bouncing).  Hint: If you’re bouncing 3 or more times after a bump, get your shocks checked out.  Without shock absorbers, your vehicle will still absorb the bumps, but your car will keep on bouncing and your wheels will keep leaving the road.  Are you beginning to see how those little divots got there on your tires?

When your car bounces, you tires lose contact with the road (which is never a good thing), but losing control because the shifting and rolling of your vehicle is out of whack when you turn, stop or swerve is really bad too.  So, my friend, you probably do need at least a couple of new tires, but more importantly, you need to get those shocks checked out (and fixed), or you’ll need more help than we can give you.

Just as a little aside: The words shocks and struts go together like peas and carrots and there’s a reason for that.  They both affect the support and stability of your vehicle.  Shocks keep your car from bouncing, but struts are a little more complex.  They are a structural part of the suspension system and provide a place to mount the coil spring (shocks will control the bounce (for lack of a better word) of the coil spring).  So, while those chunks missing from your tires might be a problem with your shocks, some of those other symptoms that we mentioned above might point to a problem with your struts.  Be safe and check both.

If you need some new tires, we can help you out.  Come see us at RNR, and we’ll hook you up (we can even set you up with a payment plan that fits your budget!).  Tires and wheels are what we do, so as soon as you get those shocks and/or struts fixed up, we’ll get you some new tires and get you back on the road!

Bree