How to Perform a Shock Absorber Heat Test

When they’re in good working condition, shocks not only help reduce wear on expensive suspension components like air bags, but they also reduce tire wear and general vibration damage to the cab and chassis. Did you also know that shocks can help reduce driver fatigue? If your shocks get too worn down, they can’t fully protect your vehicle and fully control today’s sophisticated suspension systems. 

If the quality of your ride has experienced noticeable deterioration, that may be evidence that a shock has internally failed, which unfortunately cannot be detected by looking at it. This situation is when the Shock Absorber Heat Test is helpful in assessing the situation. 

Shock absorbers work at temperatures ranging from ambient to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. A shock’s role is to dampen the oscillation of the truck’s springs. They accomplish this by transforming the energy produced by the spring to heat and dissipating it. As a result the shock should be slightly warm to hot to the touch after normal use.

  1. Drive the vehicle at moderate speeds for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Within a few minutes of driving the vehicle, check the temperature of the main shock absorber body below the dust tube. Compare this temperature to the temperature of the surrounding chassis frame. Warning: Do not touch the shock absorber as it may be hot and could cause a burn injury. An infrared thermometer gun or similar measuring device is recommended.
  3. All shock absorbers should be warmer than the chassis. You should suspect a failure in any shock that is noticeably cooler than its mate on the other end of the axle. Different temperatures from axle to axle do not necessarily indicate failures, but cooler temperatures on any one axle does warrant removal and examination of the cooler shock absorber.

To inspect for an internal failure, you need to remove and shake the suspected shock. Listen for the sound of metal rattling inside. Rattling of metal parts can indicate that the shock has an internal failure.

Information provided by Gabriel.

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