How To Test Shocks By Hand – A Step by Step Guide

Shock absorbers (or shocks for short) play a vital role in the stability of a car while on the road. They are designed to enhance proper control as you drive, especially when making a turn, braking, and accelerating.

The components are also built to help dampen the effect of uneven roads. They make driving on bad roads less stressful as the components help to maintain stability. However, they don’t last forever.

If you experience inconsistencies in your car’s stability when turning, braking, or accelerating, why not find out how to test shocks by hand in this article before consulting an expert auto technician for further diagnosis?

shock absorber test results

How To Test Shocks By Hand Step By Step

Shock absorbers are designed with a common height, even though each wheel is fitted with a separate shock, especially at both ends. So, if you begin to sense any variation in the components’ function, it shows that one or more of the shocks may be bad.

Therefore, this section provides a step-by-step guide on how to test shock absorbers by hand. The procedures will help you check if your car’s shock absorbers are in good condition without seeking the intervention of a professional auto mechanic.

Step 1: Park on a level (plain) surface

First and foremost, once you notice some challenges with your car’s stability while turning, braking, accelerating or going over uneven road surfaces, ensure to find a good place to park. If you wish, you can drive home safely before commencing the test.

In any case, whether you’re performing the exercise somewhere by the roadside or in your garage at home, ensure to park the car on a level surface so that you can inspect the balance flawlessly.

Step 2: Inspect the balance of the shocks

Once you’re sure that you now have the car on a plain (leveled) surface, go to the front of the car and observe the position. If the car bends to one side, the falling side is most likely the area with the faulty shock.

You can also measure the height with tape to verify the measurement against the specifications. However, visual inspection to determine the balance may not reveal an accurate result. Also, tape measurement may not exactly reveal a worn shock absorber.

Step 3: Push the shocks downard

Now, kindly roll up your sleeves and check out the shock absorbers by engaging them with your hands. So, move to the car’s front by the side of one of the wheels, place your hand on top of the car by the side of the hood, and push it downward forcefully.

Then, release your weight from the car immediately. If the car bounces back at once and returns to its former position, the shock absorber is okay. However, if the car bounces a couple of times, up to 3 times or more, you most likely have a worn shock absorber right there.

You can also push it downward forcefully multiple times and inspect the strut mount. It could be you have a broken mount. After that, inspect the shock and see if there is any grease or oil on it. If there’s any grease or oil on it, that means the shock is bad and needs replacement.

Ensure to do this for all the shock absorbers and verify the shock absorber test results to ascertain which shocks are bad among all four. However, if you’re asking, “How to test rear shocks by hand?” you may have to push from a different position when checking the shocks at the back wheels. However, it should be from a position where you can easily push the car downward, especially by the side of the trunk.

Meanwhile, ensure to replace the worn shock absorbers as soon as possible once you identify them. Also, kindly note that it is best to replace shocks in pairs (either from the front or rear axles).

Experts auto mechanics recommend replacing all four shock absorbers for a perfect and more even performance. But ensure to buy the recommended parts for your vehicle in order to get maximum satisfaction after replacing the old shocks.


Q: Should you be able to push shocks by hand?

If you’re asking, “Should I be able to compress a shock by hand?” Pushing a vehicle’s shocks by hand may not be able to tell the true state of the shocks/struts. This is because the components are subjected to more intense force and speed while on the road. Since your bare hands may not be able to exert that kind of force, the result may be inaccurate.

However, if this is the only option you have to check your car’s shocks before seeing an expert auto mechanic, it is okay. The exercise can tell whether the components are in good condition or not. Then, you can contact a professional auto technician to work on them.

Q: How do you check if your shocks are OK?

There are various ways to check whether your vehicle’s shocks are okay if you’re wondering how to test if your shocks are bad. While one aspect may be based on observations as you drive, the other requires the vehicle to be off while you perform the test.

Firstly, you can check if your car’s shocks are okay by observing the stability on the road. If the car pulls down to one side or the tires bounce excessively, you most likely have faulty shocks. You can also push the vehicle downward and release your weight to observe them. If the car bounces excessively, the shocks may be bad.

Q: How do I know if my shocks are blown?

Some of the ways to know if your vehicle’s shocks are blown include the following: check if the vehicle “tips” sideways without stability while on the road; also observe if the car dives excessively forward during hard braking.

If you notice the signs mentioned above, you most likely have blown shocks/struts that need replacements as soon as possible. Performing a shock absorber bounce test can also help you know if your shocks are blown in order to replace the components.

Q: How do you identify a shock?

A vehicle’s shock is designed in the similitude of a spring or pump. It has a spiral shape coiling from top to bottom. You can identify the component when you look above the tire within the vehicle’s wheelhouse.

All four wheels in a vehicle are fitted with either shocks or struts, or both in some cases. The components are responsible for stabilizing your car’s movement for proper control while you brake, turn, accelerate or drive on bad roads.

Q: Should shocks be hard to compress?

Not at all, especially when you’re yet to install them. Brand new shocks are flexible enough for you to compress if you’re asking, “Can you compress shocks by hand?” As you press the shock into the housing part, it will compress and return slowly. However, if you’re asking, “Should, shocks stay compressed?” The answer is no!

Nevertheless, the components may be hard to compress when they are mounted in a vehicle. As a matter of fact, you may not be able to ascertain the exact state of your car’s shocks by hand when they are already mounted because the pressure you exert may not be sufficient.

Q: Do you need prime shock absorbers?

Of course, it is recommended for users to prime shock absorbers before installing them in order to ascertain whether they are in perfect condition. Priming a shock absorber is pretty straightforward. Simply hold the component in a vertical position and compress it downward.

You may have to do this up to 2 or 3 times to ensure that the shock is working perfectly. Once you are satisfied with the component, you can go ahead with the installation.

Q: What do worn shocks sound like?

Worn shocks will produce a knocking or clunking sound due to the metal-to-metal contact as the shocks hit a bump. The unpleasant noise can also be caused by worn-out components within a vehicle’s shocks/struts mounting components.

Once you hear this noise coming from your car’s shocks as you drive, ensure to contact an expert auto mechanic to diagnose the actual cause within the components and fix it as soon as possible. You may have to replace the components if necessary.

Final Words

Understanding how to test shocks by hand is one of the simplest and easiest DIYer skills without any complexity. Even the dumbest individual can perform this exercise in a moment and identify a faulty shock absorber. The approaches are the same if you’re wondering how to test rear shock absorbers.

However, this method isn’t the best way to know the true state of your car’s shock absorbers. The components are subjected to tougher pressures and speeds while on the road. Therefore, ensure to observe your car to identify any symptom of a worn shock/strut as you drive.

Combining the observations with the outcome of testing the components by hand will help reveal a near-accurate report before consulting an expert auto technician to finally diagnose the components and replace them as soon as possible.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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