Common Suspension Problems and What to Do


The vehicle’s suspension system works by maximizing the friction between the vehicle tires and the road surface, which enhances the comfort of all passengers and offers more steering stability. The suspensions in cars have evolved significantly over the years, and more modern vehicles have advanced systems. Regardless of all the improvements made, problems can still happen. The suspension components can include shock absorbers (struts), springs, anti-roll bars, control arms, and much more. These components work on the front lines and take a pounding each day from railroad tracks, potholes, rain, road salt, gravel, snow, dirt/grime, and other debris that happens to be on the road (think branches and limbs).

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Under all those conditions, it’s no wonder that you can see issues with any aspect of the suspension system. Many times, they just wear out from decades of use, but they can also be damaged from a jarring hit to a pothole. Many people wonder if there are ways to help them determine if they have a suspension problem and what can be done. Common symptoms or noises can help you determine if you should go to a mechanic and get things checked out or repaired.

Wheel Alignment

You probably don’t think about the wheels when thinking about the suspension, but the two go hand-in-hand. Your wheels have to have them pointed the right way and aligned for camber, toe-in, and caster. When they aren’t, the steering system isn’t centered when you are driving straight, and tire wear is increased. The wheels can get out of alignment by hitting curbs or potholes, but an alignment by itself can’t fix damaged control arms, springs, and other parts. When you purchase new tires, it’s best to get the alignment checked to prevent shortened tread life.

Shock Absorbers/Struts

It is usually easy to tell when the shock absorbers start to go. The trip is bouncier after hitting a bump, and you are likely to notice shaking when driving over rough roads, as the tires can’t stay on the pavement. Shocks have fluid inside that prevent the bouncing; if they start leaking, you may notice a deteriorated suspension performance.

Some suspension systems use struts instead of shock absorbers. Therefore, you are likely to hear knocking sounds when you go over bumps if there is an issue. Strut assembly is an essential element of your system, so it’s best to see a mechanic if you notice anything amiss.

Springs

While they may not seem important, they are for the suspension. They hold the car’s weight up, and the can easily start sagging or breaking over time. Park your vehicle on level ground; if one corner seems lower than the rest, it’s a sign that the spring on that side is damaged. If necessary, consider measuring the corner heights to confirm what your eyes are telling you.

Sometimes, you might also hear a clunking noise when you go over a bump. You may also feel a shudder when taking corners on that side because the spring is damaged and can’t handle the weight it is supposed to support.

Ball Joints

These pivotal points attach the wheels to the suspension and can also absorb some shock from the up-and-down movement. They are designed to rotate as the angle of the steering wheel changes. If you hear creaking or squeaking while turning, it’s a sure sign that they need to be replaced. If you wait too long, the ball joint can break, and you might seem the suspension parts being drug behind your car while driving, which is never a thing you want to see. It’s best to get it checked out by a trusted mechanic and let them decide if it’s time to replace them.

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Common Suspension Problems and What to Do

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