With average car ages increasing across most countries in Europe Rainer Popiol, training manager at Bilstein in Ennepetal, Germany is highlighting how shock absorbers often suffer quite badly after nine, 10 or even more years. However, this very slow process often goes unnoticed by drivers.
And most MOTs and routine check-ups only include a visual check of these items which only delivers a very superficial result. This can lead to a hidden danger “brewing” in the car over time. It also adds up to 20 per cent to the braking distance, increases the risk of aquaplaning and even negates the effect of electronic aids such as ABS and ESP.
To be on the safe side, shock absorbers should be checked by a professional at least every 20,000 kilometres (12,000 miles). Therefore his suggestion is that technicians check shock absorbers at the same time as a tyre change or a spring check-up. This means hardly any extra effort and usually quite manageable costs.
Rainer Popiol recommends ensuring that the selected garage is equipped with a test device for shock absorbers: “The visual inspection reveals whether the shock absorber leaks oil and whether the attached parts are defective. The actual state of wear and the remaining damping force, however, can only be determined on the suspension tester.”