Shock absorbers or dampers are basically tubular structures made up of a movable outer casing and a piston type plunger inside, filled with gas oil. When the vehicle hits a pothole or uneven surface, the piston moves and the displaced gas/oil in the shock absorber minimizes the lateral movement of the piston, thus cushioning the car from jarring due to surface imperfections. The main task of the dampers is to ensure the tires are firmly in contact with the road in any road surfaces and ensure the vehicle remains stable in all conditions including heavy braking.
Since majority of Kenyans drive grey imports, these cars come with a suspension severity rating of 1 (smooth roads) and cannot withstand the rough African terrain with a severity rating of 25. Three months after one acquires a vehicle, the shocks begin to lose their absorption characteristics and the vehicle becomes a handful to drive as shocks are a critical component of vehicle handling and safety. It is time to change your shocks, question is which is the best shock for your car and where can you get unbelievable value for money
Inquire from local dealer
For those keen on replacing dampers with Original Equipment specified by Manufacturer (OEM) shocks, only authorized dealers have them in stock and usually are way expensive as compared to Replacement Parts (RP) shocks. Owners of luxury brands like Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Jaguar tend to replace these shocks from local dealers as they are not found easily in the market. Normally this shocks are built to withstand our rough roads and do come with a 1 year/30,000KM warranty.
Suspension fitting centres offer variety for grey imports
If you drive an ordinary grey import then you need to visit established suspension fitting centres like Oriel, Rob’s Magic, Auto-Xpress and others. They do understand the local road conditions and they order Replacement Parts (RP) shocks from all over the world. Once you take your vehicle, they will do a suspension test to determine which shock is worn out then replace it with a stronger yet affordable damper suitable for Kenya. These centres will also advise if you need to replace the soft coil springs (they work hand in hand with the shock) for a stronger coil spring that will offer a firm ride and increase ground clearance. On average replacing four shock absorbers will cost roughly Ksh.35, 000 for your regular Japanese grey import and Ksh. 35,000 for the coil springs.
Avoid reconditioning your shocks and fitting spacers
Some motorists like taking shortcuts by taking their old worn out shocks to be ‘reconditioned’ by some unscrupulous traders who refill the shocks with heavy oil. This may present a safety risk as the shock my collapse at any time, putting you and your family in danger. To top it all up do not use spacers to raise your car, as it alters the vehicle’s specified Centre of Gravity, affecting the overall stability of the car. Stay safe.