If dampers are worn or damaged they affect not only ride and comfort but also cornering, braking and tyre wear. The car may also fail a roadworthiness test.
Modern telescopic dampers cannot be overhauled at home. The only servicing possible is to replace rubber bushes (See Checking damper units).
Dampers that are leaking, damaged or worn out (See Checking damper units) should be replaced with new units.
Fitting new dampers is usually straightforward, and can be done with a few medium-sized ring spanners or ratchet sockets.
On combined coil-spring and damper units you will also need to use spring compressors; hire from a tool hire shop if necessary.
The force in a compressed spring is considerable, and a make-shift compressor could slip, allowing the spring to expand suddenly and maybe cause damage or injury.
For cars with MacPherson-strut suspension, new damper inserts can be fitted to the strut (See Renewing MacPherson-strut inserts).
Always replace dampers in axle sets – both rear and front – otherwise the car handling becomes unbalanced.
You can buy dampers from a car accessory shop, or order them from an authorised agent.
Always give the correct make, model, year and chassis number of the car; note that saloons and estate cars of the same model may have slightly different dampers.
Apart from the standard dampers for a particular model, dampers at different ratings are also available.
They are designed for particular characteristics, such as handling and load bearing. Ask for advice about up-rated dampers at an accessory shop specialising in suspension parts.
Look at the unit carefully to make sure that it is not damaged, and that the mountings are the right type.
Front suspension layout