9 Signs That You Have Suspension Problems
Suspensions are invaluable to getting those smooth rides on cruise nights. You want to avoid feeling those pesky jerks when you hit a bump or have your car feel like an airplane hitting turbulence every few miles.
Putting off getting a replacement leaves your car at risk of much more severe damage, subsequently leading to major repairs. Thus, it’s best to identify suspension problems and nib them in the bud early.
But there’s a nagging query – how do you tell that your car has a suspension problem? Flying wheels and loss of traction aren’t only specific to suspension defects, as many other vehicle issues can present such effects.
However, don’t fret just yet. The subsequent sections reveal telltale signs that point to suspension problems and how you can prevent such situations.
Primary Signs of Car Suspension Issues
#1 Improper Wheel Alignment
Do you notice your car pulling or drifting to one side while driving or taking turns?
Often, three things are responsible for such issues:
- Bad tires
- Poor brakes
- Faulty hydraulic pump.
However, most times, this might indicate an issue with your vehicle’s suspension system. If this crucial system doesn’t work as intended, your car won’t maintain the centrifugal force accompanying a turn.
Leaving such issues unattended is risky, making your vehicle prone to rolling over.
#2 Uneven Wearing of Tire Threads
Another telltale sign that you might be experiencing suspension problems is uneven wearing of your tire’s threads. In an ideal situation, with all your vehicle’s components operating at optimum levels, wear should be even around the wheels.
The angle between your wheels and the road describes the term camber. Your wheel alignments and suspension determine this component.
When your tire’s inner or outer layer wears faster than other layers, there’s a problem with the camber.
If positive, wearing is more pronounced at the outer sides. Conversely, if it’s negative, you’ll observe greater wear in the inner regions.
#3 Every Bump Is a Bounce
It’s natural for suspension systems to wear out over time. When they do, you lose the comfy cushion they provide when riding bumps, resulting in the rough rides you detest.
A suspension that needs repair leaves your car open to sustaining more damage. About every bump you come across on the road, leave your vehicle bouncing or you feeling it. No one wants a rough ride, and an especially bumpy one could lead to severe injuries.
You could even sustain harm without knowing, which could play out with damaging long-term effects such as backaches or poor postures.
#4 Observing a Lowrider on One Side
Do you notice that your car doesn’t sit level with a side hanging low? Poor orientation indicates your vehicle’s springs are worn out or damaged.
The result is clunking sounds when you hit a pothole or bump.
Deflated tires could also field similar effects. As such, inspecting tire pressure regularly is recommended. Are they correctly and uniformly inflated? If your tires check out, consider putting your weight on the boot and listen to the sounds your suspension makes.
Your suspension system needs replacing if you hear a squealing or creaking sound.
#5 Squats, Rolls, and Dives
You’ll experience the following issues when you have a faulty suspension system:
Squats and Rolls
You’ll notice that your car rolls to the side when you’re trying to take a bend. A similar situation occurs when accelerating, but this time around, it squats backward.
Experiencing any of these issues during a drive points to damaged struts or shock absorbers. As such, it’ll be best to have an expert mechanic check out your car’s suspension system as soon as possible.
Faulty suspensions often have your car nose-diving during brakes as it struggles to your vehicle level. You can observe this situation anytime, making it easy to spot bad shocks or struts. However, ensure you are in a safe place before testing it out.
During your test, concentrate on the front of your vehicle. What happens when you abruptly apply the brakes? If you have a faulty suspension system, you’ll notice the front nose-diving as you decelerate and come to a halt.
You might also hear audible clunks during your test if your car’s subframe bushing or control arm is faulty.
#6 Steering Difficulties
Experiencing difficulties steering while driving is extremely dangerous; you put yourself and other road users at risk. It’s best to have a professional check out your vehicle in such situations.
Although a lack of “steering fluid” can prompt stiff rides, suspension systems can also be a culprit.
Here are some of the significant factors that can cause steering difficulties while driving:
- Leaking power steering rack
- Faulty power steering pump
- Worn control arm bushings
- Critical levels of power steering fluid
#7 Squeaking During Turns
Do you hear squeaks when making turns, and does it feel like a challenge driving? If yes, a faulty suspension can be responsible for your vehicle woes.
This system does more than just maintaining your car’s balance; it also plays a crucial role in angling tires and steering response.
If any part fails, some areas of your vehicle will follow suit, resulting in unpleasant drives. For example, your car is bound to “sluggishly respond” if it has a faulty tie rod end.
Additionally, a damaged lower ball joint leaves your car making audible creaks during turns.
Thus, it’s best to pay attention to the new situation of your car. Compare this state with when you first had it, accessing possible issues.
#8 Oily Shock Absorbers
Consider checking your struts or shock absorbers for oil or grease. Observing these fluids means that these systems require repair or outright changing due to the resulting low performance.
How do you perform this inspection?
Reach around your vehicle’s rare wheels and feel the shock absorbers. If oily, this situation means it’s leaking fluids, and it’ll be best to hire a top-tier suspension car repair mechanic for repairs or replacements.
#9 Damaged Struts and Shocks
Struts and shocks are essential components aiding in maintaining your car’s steering and orientation. Struts primarily perform the former and are part of a vehicle’s structure. They also aid alignment.
Similarly, shocks absorb the impact of bumps during rides, ensuring your car doesn’t dramatically bounce if you hit one.
The signs revealed earlier are often down to these two components wearing or getting damaged.
Your car might exhibit the following problems when you have faulty shocks or struts:
- Swerves when turning or braking
- Noticeable vibrations while driving
- Fluid leakages
- The tire wears unevenly across its width
- Rides are bumpy
- Hovering front end
- Clunking sounds after hitting bumps
- Tire wears irregularly
Maintaining Your Car's Suspension — Valuable Tips to Note
Your car’s suspension will inevitably develop issues as it bears the weight of your vehicle (over three tons) for years. This process tows the wear and tear principle.
Nonetheless, you can extend its expected lifespan with maintenance and have all its components functioning optimally.
Here are the top tips on how you can properly maintain your car’s suspension system for extended periods:
Slowing Down at Speed Bumps
Speed bumps aim to curtail fast drives in areas with heavy to medium pedestrian areas. So, slowing down when approaching one protects your suspension and tires and ensures safety for walking road users.
Hitting a speed bump without decelerating could rattle your suspension system, leading to a broken axle or snapped spring.
Avoid Hitting Curbs
Physical damages to their vehicles are common ways drivers end up with faulty suspensions. When you approach one, it’s best to slow down when making a turn. Driving too fast in this scenario only increases your chances of hitting the curb.
The same scenario can also play out when pulling up too fast behind another driver during a turn. So, keeping a safe distance (stopping distance) between the two vehicles is best.
Hitting curbs while turning or attempting to parallel park can damage your wheel, displacing their alignment.
Pay Attention to Potholes and Other Road Obstructions
It’s helpful to avoid potholes and other obstructions where you can or drive slowly over them. Running over them can create shocks, deteriorating suspension components rapidly over time.
Don’t Brake Forcefully
This scenario mostly plays out when drivers fail to beat the traffic lights and abruptly have to hit the brakes when the lights turn red. It’s best to obey the road laws, pay attention to the signals, and slow down when they turn yellow.
Forcefully applying the brakes too often damages your suspension, gradually wearing its parts. Consider developing the habit of braking gently to maintain this system.
Don’t Exceed Your Car’s Suspension Weight Limit
Manufacturers design suspensions to match a specific weight limit, and crossing this threshold can lead to shock and strut damage and below-par performance from your car.
Drivers that exceed the recommended weight limits for their vehicles, especially when going on long trips, often spend more money on car repairs and put themselves at risk of an accident.
Thus, it’s not recommended to indulge in this practice for any reason.
Conduct Regular Maintenance
Regularly having a professional mechanic run routine maintenance on your car is an excellent way to extend your suspension system’s lifespan.
You can easily prevent and identify early problems, helping you avoid expensive replacement and repair bills.
Steer Clear From Unnecessary Adventures
It’s helpful to avoid putting your car’s suspension system through unnecessary stress, such as it would experience on off-road trails. Manufacturers didn’t design normal day vehicles for such terrains, so it’s best to avoid driving on them.
Sport vehicles designed for off-road adventures have specialized suspension systems to handle this stress.
Rotate Your Tires
Uneven threading around your tire’s width is more than a sign of suspension problems; it can also lead to one. It makes handling challenging, resulting in rougher rides and damaging your shocks and struts.
Rotating your tires can help limit this problem, helping to promote proper tire threads.
Consider making this rotation for every new 3000-5000 miles for an oil change.
Maintain Proper Tire Pressure
Pressure changes in your tires can lead to suspension system damage. If the pressure drops, your vehicle will experience more traction causing faster degeneration of your car suspension’s components.
In contrast, excessive tire pressure would result in tire blowouts or poor handling due to low friction between your car and the pavement.
Temperature changes affect your tire’s pressure. Often, tire pressure drops by 1 PSI for every 10 degrees drop in temperature.
As such, it’s best to routinely check your vehicle’s tire pressure, especially during heatwaves and cold snaps, ensuring it’s at the recommended levels.
Inspect Power Steering System
Damage to the power steering system can cause faults in other parts of your car, including brakes, wheels, and the suspension system.
Such issues often mean poor handling, affecting critical areas that link to your vehicle’s shocks and struts.
Inspect Your Suspensions After an Accident
A common mistake drivers make is to think they should opt for a car inspection only after a major accident. This belief is totally wrong, with vehicles requiring professional assessment even after minor crashes.
Little impact on your car can throw your suspension components out of alignment. So, overlooking inspection in such scenarios will only result in higher repair and replacement costs.
Consider contacting an automobile mechanic even on those fender benders and save thousands of dollars in the long run.
Avoid Corrosive Elements
Corrosive elements can damage your suspension system. So, it’s helpful to keep shocks and struts from directly contacting water, road salts, and other damaging chemicals.
Most suspension systems have a 50,000-mile lifespan. However, exposing them to corrosive elements would result in faster deterioration, shedding 10,000 miles off this figure.
However, practicing proper vehicle maintenance could add over 20,000 miles to the average lifespan.
Identifying suspension problems on time is critical to saving massively on car repairs, as faulty shocks and struts leave your car at the mercy of road stress.
Watch out for telltale signs such as poor alignment, uneven tire threads, noises during the drive, and oil leaks.
You can also save thousands of dollars by practicing car maintenance, obeying traffic rules and regulations, avoiding damages, and having an expert mechanic for suspension car repairs once issues crop up.
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