Suspension – are you being ripped off?

Posted on February 5th, 2016 by Rob Marshall


We always think it a great pity, when moves to enhance the motor repair industry’s reputation have not made any significant advancements. In my experience, there are far more honest and trustworthy professionals than the various stereotypes suggest. Yet, even well-known fast-fit chains get things wrong. Last month, BBC TV’s Watchdog consumer programme found that Kwik-Fit (which apologised later) was charging its customers for filling their tyres with pure nitrogen, when most of the investigated stores were simply not doing so. The story is the latest reportage that flies-in-the-face of the industry’s attempts to clean up its image.

Recently, our Technical Department has fielded several enquiries from members that asked our advice about whether, or not, a garage has been proposing unnecessary repairs. In each case, we concluded that the garage has acted both fairly and in the customer’s best interests, even though the invoice total might have increased.

With suspension dampers and springs (pictured) being over three and a half times more likely to fail during wintertime, some motorists are being advised to replace not only the faulty component but also the part on the other side of the vehicle. Naturally, this action virtually doubles the cost.

Yet, the performance of a new part can be very different to the same worn component, fitted on the opposite side. This can result in an imbalance in handling, road-holding and even braking, which is why many shock absorber (or, more precisely, ‘damper’) suppliers prefer to sell replacements in pairs. The component manufacturer TRW, for example, states that renewing both dampers, not just one, will cut braking distances by 5%.

Therefore, if your garage makes a recommendation to you, it might not be trying to extort extra cash without reason; it might just have your own best interests at heart.