Shock absorbers are indispensable for good roadholding and therefore an integral part of any suspension in both cars and trucks. I can hear you thinking: what exactly is a shock absorber, suspension and suspension? And how do you recognise problems with these and how can they be solved? More background info on this page.
Suspension of the car
Suspension refers to everything to do with how the wheels are connected to the car's chassis. This includes the suspension system and shock absorbers. The complete system aims to support the car's weight and absorb and dampen shocks. As a result, the wheels of the car will reliably maintain contact with the road surface.
If we then look further, the suspension system ensures that you can drive in a comfortable and safe manner and provides the (hopefully) good handling. The suspension system consists of the shock absorbers (or also called shock absorbers), springs and dampers.
Shock absorbers are part of the suspension system. The main function of shock absorbers is to ensure that vibrations and shocks are less noticeable while driving. They are thus absorbed. This allows the wheels to reliably make contact with the road and ensures comfort, good road holding and safety. A shock absorber is a cylinder containing a piston, which is connected to the wheel suspension via a rod. To perform its function, a shock absorber must be able to absorb a certain amount of vibration. The amount of energy absorbed depends on the vehicle weight, spring stiffness and vibration frequency. The operation of hydraulic and hydropneumatic shock absorbers is based on two basic properties of the fluid: compressibility and viscosity. The principle of the hydraulic shock absorber is quite simple. A piston rod with a precisely calibrated valve system moves in the working cylinder filled with a special hydraulic fluid. The operating characteristics are individually selected for the best damping of each car's suspension.
Signals for faulty shock absorbers and suspension
As a driver, you need to be aware of the basic signals that indicate problems with the car's suspension. These signals can often be noticed while driving:
Strong rocking of the car after passing a bump;
Significant rocking of the car when braking;
Uneven tyre wear;
Leakage on the shock absorber (oil) or an oil slick on the ground;
Pulling the vehicle to the side when the steering wheel is straight;
Vibration on the body and on the brake pedal during braking
Do you recognise these signs? Then make sure you inspect quickly to see if anything is wrong and if you can (have) a defect discovered. Driving for too long and too many shocks that are not damped properly can lead to chassis damage and dangerous situations. The tyres will also wear unevenly and the car will be out of balance. Therefore, it is better to replace early to avoid repair and further damage. What can you do yourself? Visual inspection of the shock absorbers is always possible, they should be intact, not bent and/or dry. The axles should also be intact and in place. If there are leaks or other defects, the shock absorbers should be replaced. If in doubt, we advise you to make an appointment at a garage in your area.
What to do with worn shock absorbers?
Replacement is the most effective solution. When one shock absorber needs replacement, you do have to renew them as a pair. This is because when replacing one shock absorber, you have the chance of the car becoming unbalanced which is not good for comfort, wheels and safety. An overhaul is a pretty good way out, but with a few problems. But not all shock absorbers are renewable. That's the first thing, and the second is that it's not always easy to find a shop that knows how to do repairs properly. But it is possible. Suspensions can vary. In one case, for example, it's just wear and tear, which is typical when the car is used for a long time. And in another case, the car's wheel has hit a pothole in the road, which is especially dangerous at high speed. This is why different parts of the suspension can fail, as it is a whole unit. It is he first and foremost suffer when driving on bad roads. It is important for motorists to know in advance which suspension repair services are most in demand.
We are not used to them in the Netherlands, but in some other countries in Europe winter tyres are compulsory. Winter tyres have a different, deeper profile than summer tyres and are therefore suitable for driving through snow and other winter conditions. Of course, you can also fit snow chains. These are prohibited in the Netherlands because they damage the road surface. In the Netherlands, the need to use snow chains will also rarely or never occur.
Different rules per country
Not all countries have the same rules. It is useful to find out in advance about the rules that apply in the country or countries where you will be driving. Below is an overview of the rules that apply to winter tyres in the countries of Europe. We will go into greatest detail about our largest neighbour, Germany. To be on the safe side, always check the latest information on the country you are inquiring about. After Germany we will look at:
winter tyres France, winter tyres Austria, winter tyres Switzerland, winter tyres Sweden, winter tyres Italy, winter tyres Spain, winter tyres Finland, winter tyres Slovenia, winter tyres Croatia, winter tyres Norway, winter tyres UK, winter tyres Czech Republic, winter tyres Belgium and winter tyres Poland.
Winter tyres Germany
Are winter tyres compulsory in Germany? Most people know that winter tyres are compulsory in Germany. Large areas of Germany suffer more from snow and ice than the Netherlands. But when should you put winter tyres on your car? And what is the consequence if you don't? Is there a penalty and, if so, how high is it? And what about all-season tyres? These are all questions about the obligation to have winter tyres in Germany.
Firstly, the question of when winter tyres are compulsory. Some people think that there is a specific date from which the obligation starts, in other words, a seasonal obligation. However, this is not the case. In Germany, winter tyres are compulsory when the weather conditions demand it. This means that in wintery road conditions, such as slippery snow, ice, black ice and so on, winter tyres are compulsory. Germans use the rule of thumb of October to Easter, but this has no legal value. It is therefore really about the situation as it is at the time.
Which winter tyres are suitable?
The abbreviation M+S stands for mud and snow. With this marking you are on the right track. Winter tyres can also be recognised by the Alpine symbol. This is a picture of a mountain with a snowflake. Tyres marked M+S are deemed suitable for winters up to September 2024.
What fine will you receive if you drive without winter tyres?
The driver is punished with a fine of EUR 60 for each offence. But more importantly, you can cause accidents if you drive with the wrong tyres.
Are there exceptions to the compulsory winter tyres?
The obligation to use winter tyres does not apply to the following vehicles, among others:
Certain disabled vehicles
What is the minimum tread required for winter tyres?
The legally prescribed minimum tread depth is 1.6 millimetres even for winter tyres. For safety reasons, the German ANWB, the ADACHowever, a minimum of four millimetres should be maintained. Replacement is necessary after no more than six years, because by then the rubber has hardened to such an extent that grip in cold weather is reduced, even if the tyres have been used infrequently.
What if you have an accident in Germany in winter with summer tyres?
You run the risk that the insurance company will pay less. Not using winter tyres will be considered gross negligence. In the event of an accident through no fault of your own, it can also cause a major problem in terms of liability. But the most important thing, of course, is safety. So use them, those winter tyres, when the weather conditions demand it.
Are all-season tyres also permitted in Germany?
All-season tyres are considered winter tyres in the legal sense in Germany if they are marked with the Alpine symbol or the M+S sign. If neither of these symbols is present, the tyre is not a winter tyre but a summer tyre. Good all-season tyres can therefore be left on your car all year round.
Winter tyres in other European countries
Below are briefly the rules in the most important car countries in Europe:
Winter tyres Finland
If the weather or road conditions require it, winter tyres must be used between 1 November and 31 March. The tread depth must be at least 3 mm for vehicles weighing less than 3.5 tonnes. Spike tyres can be used from 1 November to 31 March and also in other periods if the weather or road surface requires it.
Winter tyres may have spikes.
In muddy or snowy conditions, or in situations that are difficult for other reasons, the tread pattern of winter tyres must be at least 5 mm.
This regulation also applies to cars registered abroad.
Winter tyres France
In areas indicated by two new road signs, winter tyres or equivalent equipment are mandatory from 1 November to 31 March.
Good to know: This rule applies in certain cities. It is good to inquire in advance with the respective city. Two types of equipment are permitted:
Four winter tyres, certified M+S, or four all-season tyres with certification.
Winter tyres Austria
From 1 November to 15 April, use winter tyres when the weather conditions make this necessary. winter tyres must be fitted on all 4 wheels n the minimum tread depth is 4 mm. If you drive with your summer tyres, because the weather is good, you must have chains. It is the legal responsibility of the driver to carry the required winter equipment. Therefore, also in case of a hire car, check that the chains are present. This regulation applies to all vehicles registered in Austria as well as to other com m unicated vehicles registered abroad.
Winter tyres Switzerland
In Switzerland, the use of winter tyres is, strangely enough, not required by law. It is, however, advisable to use them if the weather conditions demand it. This is because there is a fine for causing a nuisance to other road users. This can certainly be the case if your tyres do not have enough grip and you cause a delay.
Winter tyres Sweden
In Sweden, there are extensive rules governing the use of winter tyres, snow chains and so on. In the winter period, from 1 December to 31 March, winter tyres are compulsory if the weather conditions make this necessary. The winter tyres must be certified. If the weather conditions are not bad come But that means no slippery n or a temperature around freezing point or below, driving on summer tyres is also allowed. It is up to the police to decide if the weather conditions make the use of winter tyres necessary or not. If the road is covered with snow or ice the use of snow chains is allowed.
Winter tyres Italy
There are no general rules on the use of winter tyres in Italy. Sometimes they are compulsory, but this is indicated by signs along the road. Winter tyres must not be used from 15 May to 14 October. This ban also applies to foreign vehicles. There are high fines for breaking this rule. This is due to the lower speed limit for vehicles with winter tyres.
Winter tyres Spain
In Spain, winter tyres are not generally compulsory unless indicated by signs in certain areas. It is therefore regionally determined.
Winter tyres Slovenia
Here, winter tyres are obligatory during the winter period. This is from 15 November to 15 March. But even outside this period, winter tyres may be compulsory in wintery conditions.
Winter tyres Croatia
In this country, at certain roads (or parts thereof) from 15 November to 15 April winter tyres are compulsory, regardless of the weather conditions, unless snow chains are in the car.
Winter tyres Norway
The use of winter tyres is not compulsory for passenger vehicles in Norway, but you are obliged to ensure that your car has sufficient grip on the road surface in winter conditions. So it is actually the same thing. It is therefore strongly recommended. The minimum tread depth for winter tyres is 3 mm and they must be fitted to all wheels.
Winter tyres UK
In the United Kingdom, winter tyres are not compulsory. However, their use is recommended in winter weather conditions.
Winter tyres Czech Republic
Winter tyres are compulsory in winter conditions. That is, from 1 November to 31 March when the road is covered with snow or ice or when the temperature is lower than 4°C. There must also be a chance of snowfall or black ice.
Winter tyres Belgium
In Belgium, winter tyres are not compulsory but are recommended when the conditions demand it, especially in mountainous regions, such as the Ardennes.
Winter tyres Poland
Winter tyres are not compulsory in Poland either, but their use is recommended in winter weather conditions.
Aluminium alloy wheels have become increasingly popular in recent years. Many car owners choose to replace the standard steel rims of their car with alloy rims. This can be an excellent choice. There are more advantages than one would initially expect. We discuss five advantages of alloy wheels.
Chic or flashy appearance
The main attraction of alloy wheels is, of course, their appearance. Aluminium alloy wheels are available in a variety of beautiful designs and colours. They can give your car that extra chic or just that extra sporty look that will make you stand out even more. You buy for example beautiful light metal rims at Online-Velgen.nl
Less chance of corrosion
Aluminium rims, provided they have had a good surface treatment, are less sensitive to corrosion than steel rims. As long as damage, for example from hitting a kerb, is avoided, aluminium rims can often last longer. But beware: alloy wheels with a bad paint treatment are more susceptible to corrosion than steel wheels.
Better dimensional accuracy
A steel rim is pressed and then welded together in a mould. In the production of an alloy rim, a special finishing process is used that ensures more precise dimensions and a more accurate weight. This ensures optimal balance and avoids unwanted vibrations while driving.
Better for life of tyres, braking system and wheel bearings
Compared to steel rims, thick-walled aluminium rims handle the heat generated by the tyres and braking better. They absorb and dissipate this heat better. This ensures that the operating temperature of the tyres, the braking system and the wheel bearings remains lower. As a result, the life span of these parts can be extended compared to use in combination with steel rims.
Less distortion after absorption pressure
It is wrongly said that aluminium rims are not as strong as steel rims. It is indeed the case that aluminium has greater flexibility than steel. However, this also ensures better absorption of pressure. As a result, an alloy rim deforms less quickly if it has to absorb a blow than a steel rim.
It is true that aluminium rims require more maintenance than steel rims if you want to ensure that they remain beautiful and last as long as possible. But that is probably what you are prepared to pay for when you invest in classy alloy wheels.
In surrounding countries such as Germany, Sweden and Austria, winter tyres are, as you would expect, compulsory during the winter months.
Although they are not compulsory for Dutch drivers, it is perhaps a good idea for motorists in the Netherlands to know the benefits and composition of winter tyres. Then you can make the decision to purchase winter tyres yourself.
In this article, we cover how winter tyres work and why drivers can benefit from a set when the temperature drops.
What is a winter tyre?
The biggest difference between winter and normal (summer) tyres is the depth of tread.
On a winter tyre it starts between 8 and 9 mm, compared to 7 and 8 mm on a regular tyre.
The grooves in the tyre are also wider and deeper to form a larger channel to handle snow and water. This maintains better grip in wet/snowy conditions.
Another important distinction is that the rubber used to make winter tyres contains a larger percentage of natural rubber and silica. This does not harden as much as the synthetic rubber often used in summer tyres. This improves the grip of winter tyres in cold temperatures compared to summer tyres.
What are the advantages of winter tyres?
In addition to improving road grip, which clearly boosts safety in wet and icy weather conditions, winter tyres also have an impact on braking distances.
Tyre manufacturer Continental has tested that a vehicle equipped with good winter tyres comes to a stop after 35 metres at a speed of 50 km/h on a snow-covered road.
With normal tyres, this distance is eight metres further (43 metres). That's the length of as many as two more cars!
Is it useful to fit winter tyres in NL?
According to experts, winter tyres are efficient in temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius. In the Netherlands, it is usually colder than 7 degrees Celsius during winter.
Therefore, despite the overall rising temperatures, fitting winter tyres in the Netherlands can still contribute to road safety. In recent years, more and more people have been switching to so-called all-season tyres. These tyres are a compromise between summer and winter tyres, but in winter conditions they will always lose out to winter tyres.
"Cold weather tyres offer much better grip in both wet and dry conditions when the temperature drops below seven degrees so they provide extra safety from October to March."
Are there any disadvantages to winter tyres?
As you would expect, winter tyres are not as efficient as summer tyres in temperatures above 7 degrees Celsius.
At high temperatures, the grip of winter tyres decreases. This also extends braking distances. In addition, they also wear out more quickly when used during the warmer summer months and need to be replaced sooner. When a winter tyre has less than 3-4 mm profile, they are no longer effective in winter conditions. A car can still pass the MOT with this profile, but it is not recommended to go on a winter holiday with worn winter tyres, for example. In Germany even the profile depth is checked.
So use your winter tyres sparingly by switching back to summer tyres in time. Although an extra set of winter tyres requires an investment, it does add to safety, which can prevent any bigger expenses such as a slippery weather accident.
Every year, millions of car tyres are discarded in the Netherlands. Many of these tyres are collected from tyre companies by authorised waste recycling companies. Most tyre dealers send old tyres to recycling companies. Where the car tyres are transformed into items you use every day, such as:
Underlays for carpets
It is now compulsory to recycle car tyres. Leaving them in a landfill is not allowed. However, to get around the rules, some scrap yard owners are tempted to burn them. This frees up space, but the air is seriously polluted with toxic fumes.
What are the guidelines in the Netherlands for recycling tyres?
Since 2005, the rule has been that these end-of-life tyres must be reused by 20%.
Importers and producers of car tyres have been responsible for processing and collecting discarded car tyres since 2004. The introduction of this rule has reduced the illegal dumping of car tyres in the environment and also reduced the incineration of car tyres.
How are tyres recycled?
Because of the mix of chemicals used in tyres, they can be difficult to recycle. If car tyres have had a hard life, it can be more difficult to recycle tyres. This is because of oil and other substances that have contaminated the rubber.
When tyres are really worn down to the seams, the canvas becomes visible. When this stage is reached, tyres can be recycled in several ways. They can be used in the refurbishment of a used tyre to give it a second life, or they can be used as a component in the products mentioned above.
From tyre to fuel
Recycled tyres can also be used as fuel. The tyres are converted into oil using pyrolysis technology, a thermal decomposition process produced by very high temperatures that is often sold for heating furnaces.
There are also other applications for old tyres that do not require a mechanical recycling process. Tyres can be used as bumpers on race tracks and kart circuits, etc.
Small rubber particles
Rubber particles are small pieces of rubber that come from car tyres. These particles can be reused in playgrounds (soft floors), sports fields and so on. artificial turf football pitches. These initially seemed to offer a perfect maintenance-free solution for football clubs, but the health risks remain a question mark. In addition, many rubber particles disappear into nature. These particles are very poorly degradable and are thus a burden on nature. Therefore, the aforementioned products are better alternatives to incorporate the rubber.