A Twitter user recently posted a picture of a shock absorber and asked other users to identify it. Many failed. Despite being one of the most popular devices in vehicles, not a lot of people really know what it looks like or its actual function in vehicles.
A shock absorber is also known as a damper. It is a mechanical device in vehicles that dampens and absorbs the shocks or vibrations generated by the suspension system. Its primary function is to control the movement of the suspension. It also ensures that the tires maintain optimal contact with the road surface.
In a typical automotive suspension system, shock absorbers come with springs. While the springs support the vehicle’s weight and provide elasticity. A shock absorber manages the oscillations and vibrations that occur when the vehicle encounters bumps, potholes, or uneven road surfaces.
The shock absorber consists of a piston and cylinder filled with hydraulic fluid or gas (such as nitrogen). When the vehicle encounters a bump, the piston moves up and down within the cylinder. It compresses or expands the fluid or gas.
This process converts the kinetic energy of the suspension movement into heat, dissipating it and minimizing the oscillations.
Shock absorbers improve the stability, comfort, and overall handling of the vehicle by controlling the speed and dampening the movement of the suspension. They help maintain tire contact with the road, prevent excessive bouncing or bottoming out, and reduce the transfer of vibrations to the vehicle’s body and occupants.
Vehicle owners must note that shock absorbers typically work in pairs, one for each wheel. They need to be regularly inspected and replaced if they become worn or damaged to ensure optimal performance and safety on the road.
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