Fitting new shock absorbers makes a dramatic difference to a vehicle's handling, comfort and safety. However, all-too-often, new upper mounting parts which connect a front strut to the car body, and the compression bumpers and dirt shields around the piston rod, aren't fitted at the same time. As a result of neglecting to replace these small components, the benefits of the new shock absorbers aren't as great as they should be. Recent expert, independent testing endorses the advice given by Monroe, the world's leading shock absorber manufacturer, that these parts should be fitted as a matter of course when shocks are replaced.
Monroe Mounting Kits comprise an upper mounting block, which carries the load of the car, transferring the weight to the spring and strut housing and supporting the top of the shock absorber, reducing road vibration and noise. A bearing ensures smooth and controlled steering.
Monroe Protection Kits contain a compression bumper, which limits travel of the piston rod and allows optimum weight distribution on the four suspension corners of the car, plus a rubber dirt shield, which helps prolong the life of the shock absorber by protecting the piston rod from water, mud, sand and stones.
Currently, statistics show that new upper mounting blocks are fitted with only one out of every ten shock absorber replacements, and new compression bumpers and dirt shields with two out of every ten new shocks, yet they are just as prone to wear as the shock absorbers themselves. They can be affected by rain, grit, snow, sand, oil and petrol discharges and by the vehicle being driven at speed over poor road surfaces, holes, or being parked up a kerb.
Independent studies were conducted in January this year by the French testing organisation, GTS. Extensive tests were carried out at the CERAM facility in Mortefontaine, using a Peugeot 306 1.8. The tests measured vertical acceleration in the passenger compartment and on top of the right-hand strut's piston rod, while the car was driven along a winding road at 80km/h. In addition, passenger reports on noise, ride comfort, steering wheel reaction, compression in the seat and driver's stress were assessed. Using the same Monroe dampers throughout, the following combinations of components were compared: new protection bumpers and new upper mounting blocks; new protection bumpers and worn-out upper mounting blocks, and worn-out protection bumpers and worn-out upper mounting blocks.
GTS concluded there is significant downgrading of suspension efficiency, affecting the comfort of those in the passenger compartment, the vehicle's safety and mechanical stress.
Raphael Thevenin, Specialty Product Manager of Tenneco Automotive, the parent company of Monroe, said, "The GTS test results confirm our own research findings, namely that replacing the Mounting and Protection Kits when fitting new shock absorbers is vital to ensure better suspension performance for improved road holding and safer driving, lighter steering, elimination of steering noise, and reduced vibration - especially in the steering wheel - and consequently increased driver and passenger comfort."