Buying the correct shock absorbers for a Nissan can be troublesome, even for the experienced mechanic or motor engineer. Gone are the times when all the buyer needed was the model of car and the approximate year it was manufactured. Now, modern cars being so much more complicated, not only regarding things like their fuel delivery systems or onboard climate control systems, but also in things like adjustable handling and "Sports Modes", where the suspension stiffens up considerably when selected.
Time spent by a customer looking at the different types of shock absorbers, and more importantly, which types their vehicle can take only increases his or her knowledge on the subject. This in turn leads to a more informed buyer, hopefully minimising the risks of purchasing the wrong shock absorbers for the vehicle.
With over 60 different types of Nissans released since the 1990's, there are an awful lot of shock absorbers to choose from. When a buyer is shopping for shock absorbers for a Nissan car, it is first important to learn why the parts are important for the vehicle then about the different types that are available, as well shock absorber failure and how to check them.
Why Shock Absorbers Must be Fitted to Vehicles
In the early days of motoring, cars, or "horseless carriages" as they were known, were basically carts, but without the horses, with a method of steering them. Up until that point, because horse-drawn carts were by their very nature, slow, people did not realise that as the first cars became faster and faster, they became very unstable, so the old method of spring suspension needed a new element.
Without shock absorbers, a car wheel, when travelling at any speed over slightly rough conditions bounces considerably on its axles, leading to instability, awful cornering, and not least, the passengers suffer a very poor and rough ride. Shock absorbers at each wheel help the car travel over the bumps and depressions in the road, literally "absorbing the shock" with dampers. It is these dampers that provide the absorption, and there are three main types of dampers on the market.
Deciding What Type of Shock Absorbers to Buy
The choice of which type of shock absorbers to buy has mainly been made by the Nissan company. If the front shock absorbers on the Nissan are currently hydraulic, then hydraulic shock absorbers should be fitted as replacements. Of course, if a previous owner of the car has made modifications to the car and retrofitted gas shock absorbers, then it is wise to replace them with similarly gas ones.
Hydraulic Shock Absorbers
Hydraulic shock absorbers are common shock absorbers used in the cars of today. As their name suggests, they are filled with hydraulic fluid in a "piston-like" arrangement. One side of the absorber is attached to the car chassis, while the other is attached to the wheel or wheel axle. As the wheel goes over a bump or down a depression in the road, this piston, full of hydraulic fluid acts to dampen the movement of the wheel. This is what gives the damping effect.
If the Nissan owner suspects that a shock absorber has failed, and the shock absorbers are hydraulic, then a sure sign of their failure is to look at the absorber and check for signs of hydraulic fluid leakage. If there is any whatsoever trickling down the length of the absorber, then it must be replaced.
Pneumatic or "Gas" Shock Absorbers
Also common are the pneumatic or "gas" shock absorbers. Instead of using a damping fluid, these shock absorbers use a gas, usually nitrogen, or even krypton, to provide the damping a vehicle requires. Whilst they are common with standard, factory cars, gas shocks as they are commonly known, are favourites with car owners looking to improve the road handling of their vehicles. This can be because they have modified or lowered the suspension, have fitted low-profile tyres, or have increased the horsepower of their engine. Checking to see if gas-filled shock absorbers are faulty is not as straightforward as a leaking hydraulic one, as there is no liquid inside to leak.
Adjustable Shock Absorbers
Like the gas shocks, adjustable shock absorbers tend to be for car enthusiasts only. An adjustable shock absorber allows the car owner to adjust the ride height of the car by altering the outer springs of these absorbers. Usually, adjustable shock absorbers are set to their minimum height, making the vehicle ride low to the ground. To date, no Nissan car is fitted with adjustable shock absorbers as standard. If the Nissan owner is looking to retrofit a car with adjustable shock absorbers, then getting expert technical advice is advised before purchasing.
Shock Absorber Failure
A driver who is familiar with his or her vehicle should immediately notice that something is wrong if a shock absorber fails. If the rear of the car seems to unduly bounce over uneven roads, then this could be a sign that one of the rear shock absorbers needs replacement.
Front shock absorber failure is much more noticeable than rear, and if left untreated, is certainly more dangerous, particularly if it is wintertime and if there is a risk that the roads may be slippery. The car may noticeably understeer around corners, particularly when braking. In either case, the Nissan owner is best to check out their shock absorbers to decide if purchasing new ones is necessary.
Checking Shock Absorbers
Checking to see if a shock absorber is working is easy. The car owner simply presses down hard on the corner of the outside of the rear of the car, then quickly releases. If the suspected shock absorber is one of the front ones, then this is easily achieved by sitting on the front wing, then quickly getting off.
If the car immediately returns to its previous position, then chances are that the shock absorber is OK. However, if the car bounces up and down noticeably before it returns to its resting position, then this is an indicator that the shock absorber may need replacement, and further investigation is advised.
Finding the Right Shock Absorbers
Firstly, the customer must know whether the failed shock absorber is for the front or the rear of the vehicle. Front and rear shock absorbers are very rarely the same, having different fittings and ride heights. Then the buyer must be aware of whether the absorber is for the right or left hand side of the car, as the fittings are reversed, particularly for front shock absorbers which often fit into the chassis itself.
Once it is known whether it is the front or rear, or left or right shock absorber, then the buyer must get the exact model and year of the Nissan. The Micra, for example, since it was first released in 1982 has had no fewer than four major facelifts, with numerous changes within these four main models.
If the Nissan owner still has the instruction guide supplied with the vehicle, then all the relevant details should be in there. Failing this, the VIN number plate of the vehicle, normally to be found under the bonnet reveals further details of the exact model and make within that model of the car.
Buying Shock Absorbers for a Nissan Car on eBay
There are many companies that retail shock absorbers through eBay, and given the model and year of your Nissan, they can usually advise on the best ones to fit. Be sure to specify which wheel the shock absorber is for.
To begin a search for your replacement shock absorber start by heading to the eBay home page and look for the search box found at the head of the page. In the search box, you can type in general or specific keywords to find what you are looking for. With such a technical car part it best to use detailed keywords, rather than general. For example, "2008 Nissan Micra front left shock absorber" yields better results than a search for "Nissan shock absorber".
Once the list of items is returned, and you are still unsure that you found exactly what you are looking for, then feel free to contact the seller and ask several questions about the part. Ask if that particular shock absorber is suitable for your Nissan. Reputable eBay sellers are usually only too happy to answer questions on their products and to assist you in any way.
Shock absorbers are often never considered, and only then as an afterthought. In the main, they are never noticed, but when a shock absorber becomes faulty and fails to damp a wheel, the car often behaves erratically, especially when cornering or on rough terrain.
If the user suspects that a shock absorber may be faulty, then that person should perform the "bounce" test described. If the car noticeably bounces before returning to its original position, then further investigation should be carried out. If possible, the wheel should be removed to reveal the absorber behind it, and if it is a hydraulic absorber, a check should be made to see if there is hydraulic fluid leaking from it.
Buying shock absorbers for a Nissan can seem a nightmare, with so many different models, then different revisions within those models. But with care and attention, the buyer can be assured in getting the right shock absorbers and finding them eBay, where option are endless. After receiving the car parts, the buyer should be confident the new ones are a proper match for his or her Nissan car.