When Do My Shocks Need to be Replaced?

A good suspension system gives a vehicle a smooth, even ride while providing Kalispell drivers with good handling and control. But like any system on your Subaru, essential parts of the suspension system can wear out, leading to a lower ride quality and safety concerns. So it’s a good idea for Kalispell drivers to remember a diagnostic examination of their suspension system in their schedule of an essential preventive maintenance. Springs do most of the work of the suspension system. The most common types of springs are coil and leaf, but air springs and torsion bars are becoming more common. The body of the vehicle is “suspended” by the springs.

If springs were the only working component in your suspension system, however, you’d spend your travel time bouncing up and down like a bobblehead. That’s where your shocks come in. They keep the rebound, or bounciness, of the springs under control. Shocks also keep your tires on the road, which keeps the driver in control of the Subaru. Some vehicles have struts in their suspension system. Struts are a compact combination of springs and shocks. They do the same essential job but in a single package.

Shocks wear out gradually, so it can be difficult for Kalispell auto owners to notice when they need to be replaced. There’s no definitive point when a vehicle’s ride goes from smooth and controlled to a bit imprecise. To check if your shocks or struts are worn, you should first do a visual inspection on them. If they are leaking fluid, they need to be replaced.

There are other less obvious signs that your suspension system needs critical attention. For example, an uneven, cupping wear on your tires may indicate that your shocks are worn. If your vehicle feels “floaty” when you turn, or, in other words, you don’t feel that you have full control of the vehicle, you should check your shocks. Also, if the front end of your vehicle dips noticeably when you stop, it’s time for new shocks.

Your owner’s manual gives recommendations on how often the shocks should be checked, usually between 15,000 and 30,000 miles (24,000-50,000 km). If one of your shocks does need to be replaced, you should replace all four. This will keep your suspension even and ensure good handling of your vehicle. If you carry heavy loads, tow a trailer or drive on uneven Kalispell area terrain, you might also consider upgrading to a heavy-duty shock.

Regular shocks contain hydraulic fluid. The essential fluid helps them absorb the bumps or “shocks” of the road so the impact doesn’t transfer to the Subaru’s body. Premium shocks are filled with compressed nitrogen gas, which costs more but does a better job of controlling body motions. Regular shocks can develop air bubbles that reduce their effectiveness; the premium shocks don’t have this problem. So if you want higher handling performance, if you drive off-road around MT or if you just want added comfort, you should consider upgrading to premium shocks or struts.

Replacing struts can put your Subaru out of alignment, so an alignment check should always follow this type of repair. Talk to your professional and courteous technician at Loren's Auto Repair in Kalispell.

Our Wheels To Thrive Car Giveaway Is In Effect




Car Giveaway

For a while now, we've been wanting to come up with a way to give back to our community. A few years back, we came across the idea to give a car away to someone in our community who is making a difference. It took us a few years to pull everything together, but it has finally become a reality. We are calling our project "Wheels To Thrive" and it is something we are super excited about. Please take some time to checkout the website we built especially for this at WheelsToThrive.com

We are going to need your help spreading the word and hopefully you know someone in the Flathead Valley who you can nominate.

Do you work on Subarus?

A question we get asked quite a bit at the shop when people come in or see us in the community while wearing our Loren's Auto Repair shirts is... "Do you work on Subarus?"

We love that questions because the answer is always a resounding "YES!" We really love Subarus. We believe that Subaru makes a quality vehicle and with the roomy interiors and All Wheel Drive options, they make very good cars for Northwest Montana.

Another question we get quite a bit is "what should I be doing to keep my Subaru running strong?"
This is a great question because it seems like we live in such a disposable society. It's amazing all the stuff we end up throwing away. New stuff comes out so fast, we just toss the old and move on with the new. I remember when we were kids growing up in Kalispell, our parents were real sticklers about taking care of what we had in order to make it last. You can probably relate; "hang up your clothes, polish your shoes, be sure to put away your toys", etc... if something got lost or ruined by neglect, tough, we had to do without.

Our parents couldn't afford new cars very often, so they tried to make them last as long as they could. Now a days, cars are made more reliable, which is a good thing. They just don't break down as often as older vehicles did. And the good news for us is that a modern car can easily go 200,000 miles or more with proper care and maintenance. The engineering's there and so is the manufacturing quality. The missing ingredient is us making sure we follow the recommended maintenance schedules.

Another question we get quite often is; "is it really that bad to get off schedule?" Well, it all adds up. For example, every time you go an extra couple thousand miles between oil changes, you've created an opportunity for sludge to form and clog passages. Then some parts don't get lubricated and can wear out faster.
Another item that tends to be skipped is a cooling system service. When this happens, the corrosion inhibitors become depleted, and the radiator and other cooling system components wear out prematurely, putting you one step closer to a failure. Similar thing are true for other vehicle components like transmission service, power steering service, fuel system cleaning – really everything has a maintenance schedule.

The good news is that it's never too late to get back on track with your maintenance and to hold off further damage. It's just another example of our parents being right. (Surprising how often that happens.) And it really does start with the oil change, just like Dad said. When you get a full service oil change we can top off all your fluids and inspect the vehicle for other items that are on your maintenance schedule. It serves as your safety net; go in for oil changes on time, and let the Service Advisors at Loren's Auto Repair in Kalispell help you keep track of the rest.

Of course, some things are going to wear out along the way, such as batteries, alternators, and such, but that stuff is cheaper than a new car payment. And taking care of problems early means they have less time to cause other problems. It's like having high cholesterol; you don't want to wait for a heart attack before you address it.

Loren's Auto Repair
1309 US Hwy 2 West
Kalispell, MT 59901

Check Your Shocks and Struts at Loren's Auto Repair

Today we're talking about shocks and struts. They're so easy to forget about because they last so long and wear out so slowly. But your shocks are really responsible for keeping your tires on the road – so they're very important.

Without shocks, your wheels would be bouncing over bumps and lifting in corners. The shocks push the tire down to the road to maximize traction. Good shocks equal good ride quality and safe handling.

Visit Loren's Auto Repair to have your shocks and struts inspected by a professional. You can find us at 1309 US Hwy 2 West, Kalispell, MT 59901
Or give us a call at 406-755-7757 to make an appointment.

There's a difference between shocks and springs. Springs support the weight of the vehicle, keeping it suspended up off the axles. The shocks moderate the rebound motion as wheels hit bumps. Now a strut combines a shock and a coil spring in one compact unit.

When your shocks are worn out you may notice degraded handling as you drive around our Kalispell streets. Your vehicle feels squirmy around corners and floaty over bumps.

You may notice the rear end squatting when you accelerate or the front end diving when you brake. Your car might even be sagging at one corner.

Uneven tire wear can also be a sign of worn shocks. Of course, if your shocks are leaking or have a big dent, they need to be replaced.

Your owner's manual will have a recommendation for when to replace the shocks and struts on your vehicle. It's usually between thirty and fifty thousand miles. Of course, if you tow a lot, regularly carry heavy loads or do a lot of driving on poor roads, your shocks might wear out faster.

If those driving conditions apply to you, you can get special shocks that are better suited to your driving.

The shocks that come from the factory are designed for the way most consumers are expected to drive that particular vehicle. If you have different needs for your driving around Kalispell MT, you can get premium shocks that improve performance handling, off-road abilities or towing comfort. Your Kalispell MT service consultant at Loren's Auto Repair can help you determine your needs and then give you some options.

It's best to replace all four shocks at the same time. That way you'll have even, predictable handling at all four corners. Anything less could be dangerous.

Friday Photo of the Day: Peanuts Anyone...?


One of our recent customers came into Loren's Auto Repair this week and while performing the inspection on her car, this is what we found...

The air filter compartment of her vehicle filled with peanuts in the shells.

Now this isn't the first time we have seen something out of the ordinary, but it is the first involving peanuts in their shells. So of course we had to ask the customer... "Any idea how your air filter compartment would get filled peanuts?"

It turns out the customer had been wondering for a while where all those peanuts were going. She had been feeding the squirrels at her house for sometime and they would simply run off with the peanuts.  Looks like they were preparing for a Montana winter.  🙂

Have a great Friday everyone!

Suspension Service At Loren's Auto Repair

Suspension systems will continue to operate effectively for many years and tens of thousands of miles. Eventually Subaru components do wear out, but how long that takes depends a lot on how you drive in Columbia Falls.

As you can imagine, if most of your driving is on smooth MT highways, your shock absorbers will last a lot longer than if you do most of your driving on bumpy roads or hauling heavy loads. In addition to just wearing out, Subaru suspension components can be damaged in an accident or by a hard impact – like a pothole, hitting a curb or a rock in the road. Because the life span of shocks can vary so widely, your Subaru manufacturer recommends periodic inspections.

Suspension Service At Loren's Auto RepairDuring an inspection at Loren's Auto Repair, your professional and courteous Columbia Falls service technician will check for worn, broken or missing parts. Let me give a rundown of the major suspension components.

First there are the springs. The springs hold the weight of the vehicle. There are several kinds of springs. Springs are obviously heavy duty parts that rarely break or wear out. Shock absorbers work in conjunction with springs to smooth out the ride and help keep the tires on the road. The shocks are key to handling performance and ride comfort.

You’ve probably heard of struts. They combine a shock absorber and a coil spring in one unit. Shocks and struts will wear out over time. There are some signs that shocks or struts are wearing out. The tires may have a cupped wear pattern. This is from the shocks bouncing unevenly. You may notice a floaty or drifting sensation when cornering. If the front of your Subaru dives excessively when stopping, or rocks back and forth after you stopped, your shocks may be worn out. And if they are leaking fluid, it’s definitely time to replace them.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, visit Loren's Auto Repair for a suspension inspection. Same if you’ve been in an accident that involved one of your wheels. If your Subaru suspension actually fails, it could lead to a serious accident, so take care of these things.

When you replace your shocks, it’s usually a good idea to replace all four at the same time. That’ll give you more even handling. Talk with your Loren's Auto Repair service advisor because you don’t want a big difference between the performance of your shocks from wheel to wheel, and replacing all may be the safest bet.

There different grades of shocks and struts. You always want to use a replacement shock or strut that equals the one that came as original equipment when your Subaru was new. But remember, they were designed to meet the expected needs of the broad range of Columbia Falls people who buy that particular vehicle. Your needs may be more specialized.

For example if you want increased handling performance for your Subaru, your professional and courteous Loren's Auto Repair advisor can recommend an upgraded shock or strut to give you what you want. If you haul heavy loads or trailers, you can get a more heavy duty shock absorber.

Shocks and Struts For Kalispell Bumps and Bounces

If you're like most of us in Kalispell, you want your car to handle well. That's the job of your suspension system.

There are different types of suspension systems, but they all work on the same basic principles. First, there are the springs, which bear the weight of the car. The most common springs are coil or leaf - although we see air springs and torsion bars more often. The springs do most of the work.

Visit our Kalispell location for an inspection of your suspension.
Loren's Auto Repair
1309 US Hwy 2 West
Kalispell, MT 59901

But if all you had were springs, your vehicle would be bouncing around like a bobble head. That's where the shocks come in. They control the rebound of the springs and smooth out the up and down motions. They also keep the tires on the road, and you in control. Some Subarus use struts. Struts are a combination of shocks and springs, together in a more compact system.

Shocks wear out slowly over time, so it's hard to notice when they get badly worn. One way to tell is to look for an uneven, cupping wear on your tires. If the shock or strut is leaking fluid, it needs to be replaced. If your car feels floaty in turns or if the front end dips a lot when you stop, it is time to get your shocks checked. Your owners' manual will tell you when your shocks should be changed - it's usually between 15,000 and 30,000 miles or 24,000 and 50,000 kilometers .

When you replace a shock, be sure to replace all four. Then your car will have an even suspension and will handle much better. Talk with your service advisor about how you drive. No, not your traffic violations, but how often you carry heavy loads, tow a trailer or drive in rough terrain. If you do a bunch of that, you'll need a heavy duty shock.

Regular shocks use hydraulic fluid and air as their dampening system. Premium quality shocks and struts use compressed nitrogen gas instead of air. Gas shocks don't get air bubbles that affect the performance of regular shocks. If you do a lot of high performance driving, off-roading or just want added comfort and control, think about getting premium gas shocks or struts.

Replacing your struts may take your car out of alignment, so be sure to get an alignment at the same time. So, to smooth out the bumps on the road of life, change your shocks and struts when they need it.

Death By Chocolate... A Silent Auction & Fundraiser

We are proud to have donated some of Loren's Auto Repair's services to the silent auction.  Look for them in this years Death By Chocolate Silent Auction and Murder Mystery night.


About the Mansion: The Conrad Mansion in Kalispell, Montana sits proudly today on the edge of the original townsite, atop a bluff overlooking the valley and the Swan mountain range.  When Charles E. Conrad, a founder of Kalispell, arrived in the Flathead Valley in 1891, this lovely town with its tree-lined streets was still but a dream.  But Conrad had vision, and he felt that not only had he found a good investment opportunity, but also a permanent home for his descendants.  Along with establishing the Kalispell Townsite Company and eventually the Conrad National Bank, he had this gracious Victorian home built for his beloved family in 1895 in what was then a wilderness.

Charles Conrad's youngest daughter, Alicia Conrad Campbell, actually lived in the home until 1964.  Then, in 1974, she made the decision to give the Conrad Mansion to the city of Kalispell in memory of her pioneering parents.

The city of Kalispell is grateful to Alicia and the Conrad Family for allowing the public to enjoy this beautiful historic landmark complete with most of the original family furnishings.

A visit to Kalispell isn't complete without enjoying a tour of this beautiful home!

The Conrad Mansion Museum is owned by the city of Kalispell but relies completely on proceeds from tours, special events, and donations to stay open for the public.

Please consider supporting the Mansion for future generations to enjoy!

Event Details:

  • April 20th & 21st - 7PM to 10:00PM
  • 2 Chocolate Fountains
  • Hors d'oeurves & Drinks
  • Silent Auctions
  • Murder Mystery with Live Actors

Event Details PDF

Visit www.ConradMansion.com or the Mansion's FaceBook page for more information