What people can't see they sometimes tend to ignore. Like, for example, the shock absorbers or struts on a vehicle.

And, pointed out John Baxter of Baxter's Imparts, that can be dangerous. Shocks and struts are designed to keep the tires in firm contract with the road. When shocks and struts go bad, so can the handling and stability of a vehicle.He said drivers can tell when the shocks start to go because the car begins to sag, the ride becomes bouncy and the vehicle is not as stable as it was on flats or in turns.

"The tires," he added, "just won't stay on the ground. That's when you know it's time to do something."

The average American driver, however, doesn't usually understand the importance or the need for good safe suspension. And because the loss of a shock or strut is usually gradual, may not realize the work needs to be done.

There are other things, too, that drivers can look for besides the bouncy ride. They include the leaking of oil on the outside of a shock or strut, unusual tire wear, unbalanced wheels, dents on the housing of the stock or strut, or poor handling.

He recommended that in the case where one shock or strut goes bad, that owners go in and replace two . . . "both sides. Right and left."

He also suggested that drivers replace shocks and struts with good quality products. A shock at the bottom of the price list is going to give a ride that is at the bottom of the comfort and handling zone, and one of better quality is going to give better service and ride.

Replacing bad struts is more important than shocks. Struts are, he said, part of the integrity of the suspension system of the newer cars.

"Shocks and struts," he continued, "should be checked when the car is serviced, or at the first hint of a problem.

"This is especially important in the winter when handling is all the more critical because of the snow and ice on the roads."