A Guide to Diagnosing and Replacing Your Shocks
Shocks do far more than just give you a comfortable ride. The shocks play an important role in the ride, handling, and braking of your Toyota. That being said, shocks are one of the most overlooked parts when it comes to maintenance. Worn shocks aren’t as obvious as worn brakes, for example.
As a Toyota owner, it’s important to maintain your shocks. This guide has all the information you need about diagnosing bad shocks, replacing your shocks, and more.
What Are Shocks And Why Are They Important?
A shock is a cylinder-shaped part that's mounted vertically behind a wheel. It's an important part of the suspension system. Your Toyota has shocks because they:
- Absorb the impact from road bumps, potholes, etc.
- Help you maintain control of your vehicle
- Protect your vehicle from excess wear and tear
- Keep the ride quality optimal at all times
For more information about what shocks are and why they're important, check out this article: What Are Shocks And Why Are They Important?
What Are Struts And Why Are They Important?
Your vehicle may have:
- Shocks at all 4 wheels
- Struts at all 4 wheels
- Shocks at 2 wheels (same axle) and struts at 2 wheels (same axle)
If your Toyota has struts, you may be wondering what they are. To put it plainly, struts are beefed up versions of shocks. A strut assembly has a shock absorber and a coil spring. The coil spring supports the weight of the vehicle. The main difference between shocks and struts is that struts hold the weight of the vehicle, while shocks don't.
If you want to read more about what struts are and why they're important, check out this article: What Are Struts And Why Are They Important?
Diagnosing Your Shocks
Worn shocks are a pretty big deal because they reduce your car’s ride quality and hinder your ability to control the vehicle. What if your shocks are pushing 50,000 miles (or if they’ve already passed that point)? It’s time to look out for the most common symptoms of worn shocks and diagnose the issue if needed.
This guide has a list of the symptoms of a worn shock and step-by-step instructions on diagnosing the issue: 3 Steps to Diagnosing Failing Shocks
It's common for the strut mounts to fail on 1997-1999 Toyota Camry and Avalon models. When that happens, you'll notice a strange thumping noise coming from the front suspension. This problem is common because the stock strut mounts on these vehicles came with rubber bushings that were too thin. Do you have a 1997-1999 Camry or Avalon that's making a thumping noise coming from the front end? This diagnostic guide will help you confirm that the strut mounts are bad: Camry And Avalon 1997-99 Front End Thumping Noise
Buying Replacement Shocks
When you determine that you’ve got worn shocks, a replacement is in order. One of the first decisions you have to make is whether to buy OEM or aftermarket shocks. OEM is the better option because:
- OEM shocks have guaranteed quality and fitment
- OEM shocks are more affordable in the long stretch
- It’s easy to find OEM shocks that are designed just for your car
This article goes into more detail about this: 3 Great Reasons to Use OEM Toyota Shocks Instead of Aftermarket Shocks
Replacing Your Shocks
Don't be so quick to bring your Toyota to a shop and spend hundreds of dollars on labor. You should consider replacing the shocks yourself. With the right tools, replacing a pair of shocks is an easy job even a beginner could tackle without much trouble.
Need a comprehensive step-by-step guide on replacing the shocks on your Toyota? Check out this tutorial: How to Replace Your Toyota Shocks
You can find a model-specific tutorial if you're not comfortable following a general overview of the process. We put one together for the Scion tC model: Scion tC Maintenace - Shock And Spring Replacement
If you have any questions about your shocks that were not addressed in this article, you’re welcome to reach out to us.