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Check whether your suspension system is fit for the springtime!

BILSTEIN recommends: inspecting shock absorbers during annual springtime check

Ennepetal, (Germany), January 30, 2013 – Winter in Germany is certainly less harsh than in Siberia. But even a German winter can take its toll on a car. Frost leaves numerous potholes and cracks in the roads between the North Sea and the Alps; plenty of work for the shock absorbers. Ultimately, it is the vehicle parts that many drivers forget about that have to compensate for every unevenness. Suspension specialist BILSTEIN recommends a shock-absorber check in spring for this reason alone. After all, the mandatory change from winter to summer tyres makes it easy to inspect the shock absorbers. The corresponding check at the specialist garage only takes a few minutes and can also be made during the German MOT (TÜV) test.

Test organisations such as TÜV Nord and DEKRA estimate that up to 15 percent of all tested vehicles are on the road with defective shock absorbers. Around six million drivers are thus endangering both themselves and others. The ageing process takes place in secret, inside the shock absorber. Motorists generally do not notice the wear at all or notice it much too late. What most motorists fail to realise: even younger vehicles may be affected by advanced wear to the shock absorbers. The consequences are serious: worn shock absorber do not only affect comfort, but also driving safety, as the tyres lose road-holding. As a result the vehicle breaks out more quickly during cornering or evasive manoeuvres. In addition, the braking distance is extended by about 20 percent. The dreaded hydroplaning effect occurs much earlier.

"A regular check of the suspension system, including shock absorbers and springs is essential for road safety," says Frank Hansen, head of BILSTEIN workshop in Ennepetal. "Motorists should therefore pay attention during the workshop visit that the suspension check is part of the springtime check. You can save time and money by using the tyre check to also check the suspension and prevent possible damage."

Background Information for editors:

The inner workings of a shock absorber make the wear process clearer. If you compare a defective (figure A) and an intact monotube gas pressure shock absorber (figure B) the causes are particularly evident. Oil flows through the damper piston valve passages of an intact shock absorber in a controlled manner - the optimum damping force is always available (see exploded view B). However, if the damper rod or piston coating is worn, additional oil flows laterally past the damper piston (see exploded view A). The lower oil pressure reduces the damping force.

Of around eight million vehicles, every fifth car fails the German MOT test on the first attempt due to major technical defects, according to the German technical inspection agency TÜV. In the accident vehicles examined by another technical inspection agency, DEKRA, an average of 36 percent were found to have serious technical deficiencies. The experts estimated that around 20 percent of these accidents were due to defects related to the suspension system. Such defects were particularly evident in older vehicles whose owners had not carried out the necessary service and repair work. According to studies by the technical inspection agency GTÜ, around 15 percent of all vehicles have defective shock absorbers. In more than 50 percent of accidents in which motor vehicles are involved that are older than ten years or have a mileage of more than 150,000 kilometres, defective shock absorbers were part of the cause.


Check shock absorbers when changing tyres.

The inner workings of a shock absorber

A trained eye generally recognizes at first glance whether shock absorbers are still intact or not.

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