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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Shock Absorbers - Adjustable Shocks or Non-Adjustable Shocks?

Shock absorbers, what they do? If a car had no shock absorbers after going over a bump, it would keep bouncing up and down, until all the energy put into the spring by the bump, had exhausted itself, which would make a car un-drivable. As the shock absorber controls the spring, it has to have a resistance in relation to the spring tension. Too soft and it will give poor control of the spring and wear out quickly due to being overloaded and too hard and it will also wear out quickly as it will be trying to do the job of the spring by not compressing soon off, taking the load the vehicle, rather than control the spring.

Shock absorbers tend to be forgotten by most motorists; they see them as a required fitment only when they fail to work at all. This is very short-sighted and not only does a tired (not failed) shock absorber, severely spoil the handling of the car, it also accelerates wear on tires and suspension joints.

Ideally new heavy-duty shock absorbers should be fitted when lowering and stiffening the suspension if you wish to get the best results. This may seem an expensive fitment, as shock absorbers are not visible to liven the cars appeal, but a necessary fitment if the best performance of the suspension and vehicle is required.

Adustable Shocks or Non-Adjustable Shocks?

The next question about performance shocks is "Do I get the adjustable shocks or non-adjustable ones"? For the person who has the time and inclination to test and analyze their performance, adjustable shocks are better and usually no more expensive than non adjustable shocks. In reality however most people fit them and forget them, leaving them on the setting as fitted. As a matter of choice, personally, I feel that non adjustable shocks are probably better, as all money is in the business end of the unit not the adjusting mechanism. Having said that there could be a certain amount of prestige is saying you have adjustable shocks.

I recommend BILSTEIN as the best shockers for fast road and even competition use. I have tried other makes and have been disappointed in 2 areas. Firstly I do not recommend the adjustable units on the market (full race specifically made for competition excluded from these comments) as far too much money goes into the adjuster mechanism so that the quality of the unit is compromised to keep it affordable. From our experience the adjuster mechanism is the first thing to fail often after only months of use. Also I find that 99% of customers really like the idea of adjustable shocks but in reality once adjustable shocks are fitted they never adjust them again and so paying for something they do not use. The second area other shockers fail in, is the diameter of the damper piston, this is the part that takes all the load and strain and is the part that wears out and you want it as big as possible. Bilstein have the biggest diameter pistons of any and in some instances over 50% bigger. There are 2 main types: one is for normal road use and the other is shortened, both work well with our shortened springs but for those who want the ultimate the shortened ones are the best.

The need for shortened shocks

The reason for needing special shortened shocks is that when you lower a car you alter the position of the control mechanisms inside shock absorbers, they operate much closer to each other. For road use the standard unit is fine but in the event of going over a kerb or full bottom out of the suspension it would be possible to damage the valve block unit, so for those who want piece of mind or using to the ultimate we suggest the shortened shock units.

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Anonymous said...

What about Mercedes' Active Body Control System (ABC Sport). How does that work?

... its not your regular shocks, they are filled with air and are somehow regulated by a computer and a powersteering pump to keep the car from bouncing up and down and from leaning too much in turns.
I'm just curious about the details of how it works.