Each individual shock absorber, in addition to controlling vehicle body movement and ride, exerts a tremendous stabilizing force on each vehicle tire. A shock absorber prevents a vehicle’s tire from hopping or bouncing in uneven or choppy terrain and helps to a vehicle tire planted firmly on the ground or road surface.

Some Article

I read several articles on this, but I am still not sure what shock absorbers do. They basically work in concert with the spring when a bump is encountered to slow down the rate at which the wheel comes up in the wheel well...but also prevent the spring from lifting the vehicle too fast? (Implied here)

Also, would bad shock absorbers contribute to wheel-hop on dropping clutch?

What is "bad" in this case? Losing oil and not dampening or locking up somehow? Does the lock-up scenario ever happen?


1 Answer 1


A vehicle without shock absorbers will bounce many times after hitting a bump. The shocks basically dampen the bump force into the vehicle and they dampen (or slow) the rebound of the vehicle springs. This creates a smoother ride.

Typically a BAD shock absorber is one that has lost it's oil and moves freely, so it can no longer dampen. The easiest way to check it is to remove it from the vehicle and move it by hand and compare how it moves to a new part. It should be somewhat hard to push in and out.

Depending on the type of vehicle and suspension in the vehicle, wheel hop is usually because of loose or weak suspension components (control arms, leaf springs, etc). Stiffening up these parts will usually solve the issue of wheel hop. Back in the 70's performance muscle cars were fitted with traction bars to solve this problem.

  • A decent answer. Although I would say that "traction bars" are there to prevent axle twist or wrap, which isn't really related to the OP's question. But kudos for pointing out that "shock absorbers" are NOT. They should be called dampers, just like you posted. Springs are the true absorbers of shock. Dampers keep springs from "ringing" or repetitive bouncing.
    – SteveRacer
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 1:44
  • @SteveRacer much more fun when people who think they know what they are doing and manage to hit the natural frequency !!
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 7:31
  • Just to clarify, my reference to using traction bars is addressing the question about wheel hop. Traction bars prevent axle wrap which is one of the causes of wheel hop. Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 15:56

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