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Automotive glossary: What is a Shock Absorber or Damper?

Definition of Shock Absorber: The shock absorbers are security relevant parts of a vehicle and serve for extenuating the vehicle oscillations, which arise from driving motions and uneven subsurface. Otherwise the oscillations would lead to the vehicle being uncontrollable and result in accidents, especially when braking or going around bends. Usually they are built in as McPherson suspension struts, i.e. as a unit of spring and shock absorber. The shock absorber is for making the oscillations fade away fast, whereas absorbing the impact, which is transferred into the interior by bumpy streets is the task of the tires and the springs. The usually applied hydraulic shock absorbers use the flow resistance of a fluid, which is being pressed through narrow canals by the oscillation energy, converting it thereby into thermal energy. The proper function of the shock absorbers can be roughly checked by digging down the car body sharply above the wheels and observing, if the vehicle swings after. Loss of fluid means a defect as well.

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