Top 7 Symptoms of Bad Shocks and Struts

Bad Shock and Strut Symptoms

What happens when shocks and struts go bad? Most times, your car might start developing strange signs, making it difficult to figure out what is going wrong. Bad shocks and struts affect your driving experience, compromising the stability of your car.

In extreme cases, a bad shock and strut can cause your car to lose control, handling and steering response, poor braking efficiency, and down to accelerated wear of your tires. To prevent unforeseen harm, you must learn how to spot bad shocks and struts and change them immediately.

Some of the most common symptoms of bad shocks and struts include excessive bouncing, oil, and fluid leaks, reduced car height, noisy rides over bumps, poor ride quality, and poor brake performance.

There are many ways to tell that your car has bad shocks and struts. Read on to find more.

Symptoms of Bad Shocks and Struts

Here are seven common symptoms of bad shocks and struts.

1. Poor Ride Quality

One of the easiest ways to tell that you have bad shocks and struts is that your car will drive poorly. With the handling, steering ability, and stability, you will find it hard to control the dynamics of your car.

Bad shocks and struts will cause your car to react differently when you hit the brakes, accelerate, run over bumps, or try to take a turn.

In prolonged cases, a bad shock and struct will lead to loss of traction in your car, increasing how soon your car will stop after hitting the brakes. This will also be characterized by bouncy and rough rides.

2. Excessive Bouncing

Your car’s shocks and struts are crucial components that determine your car’s movement, control, brake, and acceleration performance. This includes how the car handles uneven terrain.

More importantly, the shocks and struts support your suspension system to achieve more comfort, bearing the weight of your car to achieve better alignment and steering ability.

One of the common symptoms of bad structs and shocks is that your car will bounce unnecessarily and excessively. This is usually evident in the front part of your car.

If you are driving on good shocks and struts, your car should return to its normal position after a bounce. Good struts will prevent your car from bouncing excessively.

You can push your car’s bumper down a few times for a manual inspection. Observe the rate it bounces back up again. If it bounces too quickly, there are no arguments, you have bad shocks and struts.

3. Abnormal Tire Wear

One of the signs that shows that you have bad shocks and struts is that your car tire will start wearing out unevenly. The truth is that bad shocks and struts cause a bumpy ride. It influences the level and manner of friction on your tires.

This will affect your acceleration and reduce the performance and state of your tires, especially on bumpy or slippery surfaces.

Bad shocks and struts will cause abnormal tire wear due to the tires' uneven weight and balance distribution. The abnormal tire wear from bad shocks and struts will be evident in cupping and bald spots on your tires.

4. Poor Brake and Acceleration Performance

Poor brake performance is one of the common symptoms of bad shocks and struts. Your car will take a longer time to respond when you hit the brake pedals. These issues will be evident in brake dives, acceleration squats, or even body rolls.

There are chances that when you are in the face of danger, and there’s a need to hit the brakes, you’ll find out that your brakes are stopping a few miles after you hit them. This is a major sign that you have a bad shock and struts.

The issue might extend to causing your car to nosedive when you hard brake or the rear end of your car will dip when you try to accelerate.

Poor brake and acceleration performance from a bad shock and struts is caused by an imbalance transfer of forward or backward weight, causing your car to rise from the front or back regions.

5. Poor Turning and Unsteady Steering Wheel

You can tell that you have bad shocks and struts from the state of your steering wheel. We have established the fact that bad struts and shocks cause uneven/abnormal wear of your tires.

The uneven wear of your tires can cause unresponsive turning in your car. This is also because of the unbalanced proportion of weight on the wheels and tires.

In some cases, bad shocks and struts can cause body rolls in your car–this is a situation where your car will dip to one side when you take a turn.

You should also notice that your steering wheel will become unsteady. You will notice this when trying to take a sharp turn, reverse or drive through bends. Your car will bend towards a particular side.

This symptom can go unnoticed for a long time. You can only figure it out if you allow someone else to drive your car while you inspect the balance.

6. Vibrations and Rough Rides

If you feel vibrations on your steering wheel, heads up! It could be a case of bad shocks and struts.

There are chances that you will notice some rocking and rattling under/by the side of your car.

We understand that a few other factors cause vibrations in your car, but worn-out shocks are one of them. These vibrations are easily felt on the steering wheel or the overall smoothness of your rides.

The shocks are positioned as absorbers to give you a comfortable ride, shielding impacts and vibrational and frictional effects on your tires.

It is normal for your car to vibrate while driving on a rough road, but if the issue persists, get your car checked for bad shocks and struts.

7. Oil/Fluid Leaks

You can tell that you have bad shocks and struts from fluid leaks. This means the shock has broken, giving the hydraulic fluid no option but to leak.

Shocks usually have oil seals that keep the oil inside the shocks. When the seals are compromised, the fluid starts leaking from the shocks. This can negatively impact your ability to control your car.

How Do I Know If I Need New Shocks And Struts?

Here are easy ways to know if you need new shocks and struts

1. Visible Inspection

Physically inspect the state of your car, the shocks, and the struts. Start with bouncing your car’s bumper and observe how it responds. You can feel around your shocks to check for leaks, a solid coat of dirt, or oil deposits.

It is important that you closely inspect the height of your car. A loss in pressure in the shocks or struts will affect your ride height.

Look out for the uniform balance of your car. If there is no uniformity in the balance distributed to your car’s body, there are chances that you have either a bad shock on one wheel or a bad strut on another.

2. Ride Inspection

Your car's performance is a good way to know that you need a new shock. Bad shocks and struts will cause a lack of stability in your car. You will easily notice this when you are driving at high speed.

Check how balanced your car is on level grounds, how it responds to bounces, and how it sways from side to side after you hit a pothole or bump,

3. Unusual Noise

You need new shocks if you notice strange noises from your car, especially when you drive over bumps. Bad struts will produce a clunking sound.

This usually happens when you are turning your car. This is caused by metal-to-metal contact of your shocks and struts during turns or when you drive through a bump.


Driving on bad shocks and struts can pose a threat to your safety. You must seek professional help anytime you notice any of these symptoms. Diagnosing your car for bad shocks and struts might not be easy because some of these symptoms can go unnoticed for a long time.

Most newer cars are loaded with advanced technology that makes it easy to detect any of these issues. Nevertheless, it is important that you keep an eye out for any of the symptoms of bad shocks and struts we have listed. Replacing the worn-out shocks and struts with new ones is not a bad idea.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do bad shocks and struts sound like?

If your car has bad shocks and struts, you may hear clunky sounds from the rear of your vehicle. Other sounds from this include squeaking, chunky, and screeching.

What do bad shocks feel like?

You can feel the wobbling of your car tires if you have bad shocks and struts. The tires will feel out of place, and you’ll feel much vibration on your steering wheel. You can also feel your vehicle swaying to one side if you ride at a highway speed.

Is it okay to drive with bad shocks and struts?

No, it is not okay to drive with bad shocks and struts. A malfunction of your car's shocks and struts causes instability and unusual bounce. This is a dangerous situation that not only puts you in harm’s way but also jeopardizes the safety of other road users.

Do I need an alignment after replacing the struts?

Yes, your car needs alignment if you replace worn-out struts with new ones. You need an alignment to ensure accuracy in the fixing of the new struts, just in the same position as the worn-out ones.