I just bought a used car (ix35) and I feel the suspension is too hard. Back is much harder than front. I would say it is a hard shock absorbers, but I read through the list of ways how the shockers can be broken, they can:

1) become softer

2) start making sounds

3) start leaking or sweating.

Can it become harder? I can assume the car was towing a boat, and it might reverse to salty water sometimes. May these be the factors?

May it be springs? May the previous owner install harder springs for towing?

Is there a way for me to find out if shockers replacement will improve the situation?

I would go into the shop and buy softer shock absorbers, but I did not find a shock absorber classification saying how hard or soft they are. Is there such classification among any brand of shockers?

  • 1
    I used to have a 2011 Toyota Yaris, bought new, and I have noticed the same phenomenon. Bumps on the road and those steel things on bridges felt definitely much harder when the car was old than when the car was new. Now I have a 2016 Toyota RAV4 hybrid, and bumps on the road feel soft again. Since this doesn't really answer the question (no details what the cause might be), leaving this as a comment.
    – juhist
    May 26, 2017 at 9:46
  • Another non answer left as a comment: "Shock absorbers" are not! Shock absorbers are really dampers, designed to prevent a riniging or continued oscillation after a bump or supsension compression. The springs are the real "shock absorbers". But like shock absorbers, springs usually get softer, not harder, over time. And since only a rusty damged shock would bind and create harshness, the "hardness" of a shock is not relevant. Ride harshness comes from spring rates.
    – SteveRacer
    May 28, 2017 at 5:52

2 Answers 2


If as you say the vehicle has been around salt water quite a bit, its certainly possible that the rear shocks are failing. If the pistons are corroded/sticking or even bent this certainly can cause the shock absorbers to stick. This in turn can lead to a hard suspension feeling.

Also if the vehicle was used for towing and was fitted with uprated springs then yes.. This will certainly make the ride feel harder.

If it's just slightly sticking shocks you can sometimes free them up by loading the boot with some weight, and then driving very slowly along a uneven road, forcing the suspension to work harder. Obviously though if the shocks have damaged piston rods, valves or they've been leaking gas/fluid then they'll need replacing.

  • What if the shocker did not stick, may they work harder, or with smaller amplitude? May 30, 2017 at 2:18
  • 1
    Not really. If the shocks are not stuck or bent etc.. normally they will fail by becoming weaker, meaning that you will just have the springs bouncing for longer without any shock dampening effect. This is normally due to valve/seal wear or failure inside the shock absorber which in turn causes fluid/gas leakage.
    – Orb
    May 30, 2017 at 2:51

Other ways, depending on your desperation:

  1. use some well-worn shock absorbers instead of your stiff ones
  2. operate the shock at an angle by moving one mount point off of the axis of shock travel
  3. make a linkage so that the body has mechanical advantage over the shock.
  • It suppose to be Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair, not be a courageous welder and redo everything your way :) Dec 14, 2018 at 3:01

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