Symptoms and Likely Causes Of Common Suspension Problems

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The automobile’s suspension system basically defines the following functions: suspends the vehicle on its chassis; stabilises the vehicle; absorbs shocks from the road; offers comfort; and it’s an essential part of the vehicle’s safety architecture.

However, there are common problems in automobiles that are related to the suspension system: like feeling every bump in the road. A rough ride is a clear indicator your shocks or struts could be worn and in need of replacement. When every bump on the road makes your car bounce, you’ve got suspension problems and need to get it checked out.

Try the bounce test:
When your car is parked, put all of your weight on the front end, release, and observe how the vehicle responds. If it bounces back and forth three or more times, the shocks and/or struts are worn and need replacing.

Worn shock absorbers mean big problems:
Shock absorbers, true to the name, are the main culprit when your car feels “bumpier” than ever. They’re designed to keep your tyres on the road. When they don’t, the car will bounce all over the place. Shocks have fluid which dampens the bouncing. When they leak, their performance suffers and the absorbers will eventually fail.

Don’t count out a worn leaf spring:
Leaf springs may sometimes cause problems with excessive bouncing. You can double-check the possibility of a busted leaf spring by checking if the car or truck seems to “lean” back in a standing position.

Many trucks are designed to be “nose down” to accommodate extra weight in the rear. If your pickup truck appears to sit level, it could be extra proof of an issue with a leaf spring. Even the slightest damage from an accident can cause shocks to leak and permanently damage them beyond repair. Get it checked out.

Pulling to one side while driving:
An under-inflated tyre is a common reason for your car pulling, and a problem easily fixed. Pulling to the left or right is the most common sign of suspension problems. It can also be one of the hardest problems to diagnose without the help of a professional.

Tyres need to be aligned precisely for toe-in, caster and camber. Poor alignment means uneven tyre wear, annoying pulling, a constant fight with the steering wheel, and even decreased gas mileage. Your vehicle could be pulling for any number of reasons:

a. Uneven Tyre Pressure;
b. Uneven Tyre Wear;
c. Poor Alignment;
d. Bad Tie Rods;
e. Steering Rack; or
f. Sticking Brake Caliper.

If you run through a pothole or climb over a curb or two, your alignment can get out of whack. Sudden changes in alignment don’t happen magically. Something broke. It could be a broken spring or control arm.
Maybe it’s just a tyre issue:
Sometimes fixing the problem can be as simple as inflating an under-inflated tyre or by rotating the tyres. Other times, it could involve a few hours in the shop and complete replacement of key suspension components. Either way, ignoring these problems only makes things worse. It won’t fix itself. But before shopping for tyres, learn how to read your tyre size so you know exactly what you’re looking for.

One corner of the car is sitting low:
Some seemingly slight cosmetic damage from a minor accident doesn’t rule out damage to your suspension.

When your car is on level ground, but one corner sits lower than the others, you’ve likely got a damaged spring. You may notice a clunking noise when going over bumps, and cornering could be compromised, because a damaged spring can’t support the weight.

The relationship between the shocks and the spring is the main contributor to this problem. A blown shock may cause an over compression of the spring and lower sitting height. A blown shock doesn’t have a direct impact on height, but it will make a car react poorly in bad road conditions.

Test springs by pushing down on the truck:
The easiest way to diagnose spring problems is by pushing down on the trunk of the car or truck, releasing, and listening to how the suspension reacts. If you hear a creaking or squealing sound, you’ve definitely got a suspension problem with the shocks, springs, bushings or related parts. Even the slightest loss of height in one or multiple corners of the vehicle could indicate a leak or failure in your shocks or springs. Don’t wait until your car is dragging along the highway before getting it inspected.

When momentum makes your car nosedive, lean back or roll:
Shocks or struts can be in need of replacement when you notice the following related issues: Your car “nosedives” when braking (it leans forward). Your vehicle “rolls” to the side when cornering (it leans side-to-side). Your car “squats” during acceleration (it leans backward). Of course, with extreme handling, you could force these things to happen in a vehicle with a brand new suspension system. We’re talking about everyday driving situations. You shouldn’t be leaning forward for a routine stop in a suburban intersection.
Difficult steering:
If you find steering is especially difficult, especially when you’re moving slowly, something might be wrong with your suspension. Sometimes the steering may feel like it’s “slipping” when you turn the wheel or hold it in a turned position. Any number of components in your power steering system could be a source of these issues, including low power steering fluid, worn or loose power steering belt, faulty power steering pump, leaking power steering rack, and worn control arm bushings.

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