BEREA, Ohio—Shocks are an often overlooked component of a vehicle yet a worn ride control can impact numerous other parts and slowly degrade the ride and stopping ability of the vehicle, according to Tenneco Inc.
The maker of Monroe ride control systems recently invited local auto technicians to Berea to learn how to inspect ride control and how worn shocks can negatively impact other systems in the vehicle.
While the industry standard is to replace shocks at about 80,000 miles, Tenneco suggested 50,000 miles as "a serious point of consideration" because at that point many ride controls are significantly degraded, impacting vehicle safety.
"If the only thing you do is take somebody's order and give them what they came in for, you breached your responsibility to your customer," Sidney Gay, Tenneco's manager of sales training, told a room of attendees.
He urged technicians to conduct a "safety triangle inspection" on every vehicle that comes into their shops to evaluate the vehicle's steering, stopping and stability for signs for worn shocks.
He said the most critical sign of worn ride control is tire wear. Since shocks control the motions of the spring, once they are worn down, they can cause tire cupping and inside/outside wear.
Worn shocks cause spring collapse resulting in loss of ride height, a change of alignment angle and a change in camber leading to tire wear issues, Mr. Gay said.
This in turn can cause braking distance to increase a minimum of 10 feet and negatively impact steering and acceleration, as well.
"Customers are unaware of the changes that are taking place," he noted, so it is up to the technicians to inspect and educate the customer about the safety issues and benefits of replacing the ride control. He estimated that about 60 percent of vehicles go to the junkyard with their original ride control.
"What does it take to sell ride control? It takes knowledge," Mr. Gay said.
He recommended a safety triangle inspection that includes:
- checking mileage and air pressure;
- taking vehicle on road test and then, when shocks are heated up, do bounce test. He noted that when shocks are cool, they can give false reading;
- measuring ride height and compare with OE specs;
- checking springs and turn shocks;
- checking for leakage from shocks, dents and pitted pistons;
- inspecting compression bumpers, bushings, rebound bumper, bearing plate and motor mount;
- inspecting tires for unusual wear; and
- checking other suspension components.
"We must become doctors of the automotive industry," he said and that requires making the customer's vehicle safer.
Mr. Gay suggested three steps to selling ride control:
- conduct an inspection procedure for every vehicle that comes into the shop and conduct a road test;
- educate the customer, emphasizing safety; overcome objections by showing the customer the benefits of replacement; and
- make the recommendation and ask for the sale.
Tenneco offers its customers a flip book outlining the safety inspection triangle and a list of Tenneco products and what they can do to improve a vehicle's ride. The company also provides hang tags that shops can put in a customer's vehicle showing the findings of the safety inspection.
Among its products Tenneco offers mono-tube and twin-tube shocks and Mr. Guy stressed that technicians "put on the car what came off" otherwise a mismatch could impact the vehicles ABS and ESC systems.