Your car’s suspension system is critical for both efficient road handling and a smooth ride. Modern systems have become quite advanced and are far more reliable than ever before, but the punishment delivered by a typical day of driving ensures that the components will show wear and tear eventually. There are many parts involved, including linkages, springs, control arms and shock absorbers, which may need to be replaced eventually. Let’s look at some of the problems your suspension system may encounter over time.
Sagging or Broken Springs
If you’re noticing that your car is leaning to one side when it’s parked on level ground, that’s a good sign that your springs may be worn. Over time, your springs wear out and may break or lose their elasticity. Another sign of damage is a clanging sound when you ride over a bump.
Worn Control Arm Bushings
The control arms are responsible for connecting the vehicle’s wheels to the steering wheel. These hinges also connect the frame to the wheels. The control arm bushings are metal or rubber parts that act to absorb shock. When they begin to wear out, tires can wear out faster and handling may be less reliable. If you hear rattling or clunking while breaking or accelerating, this may be a sign that the control arm bushings need replacing.
Noisy Ball Joints
If you hear squeaking noises when you’re turning, this could mean that your ball joints are showing signs of age. The ball joints are the points where the wheels attach to the suspension system. As the angle of steering changes, they rotate and absorb shock. When they’ve started to wear out, they begin to make noise.
If your car is making a knocking sound on rough roads, your struts may need attention. When the struts wear out, there is more transfer of weight from front to back and side to side, so your tires have trouble gripping the road, it’s harder to brake, and handling in general is more difficult. It’s important to maintain the struts in order to make sure you can safely drive your vehicle, so you should bring your car in for service if you suspect a problem.
Your vehicle’s shock absorbers are an important part of the suspension system. When your shock absorbers begin to wear out, you may start to feel much more vibration when going over a rough road, and a good deal of bouncing when you go over a bump. There is special fluid in the shock absorbers that create a dampening effect. When the shocks start to deteriorate, this fluid leaks out, and the shocks stop doing their job.
Check Your Wheel Alignment
If your wheels are out of adjustment, your tires will wear out faster due to the steering not being centered. This happens when the wheels aren’t correctly adjusted for caster, camber and toe-in. Many times, problems with the suspension will affect the wheel alignment, so if you suspect this is the case, have your tires checked.
Suspension problems can reduce the life of your auto and make it dangerous to drive. If your car exhibits any of the symptoms outlined above, make sure you get it to a mechanic as soon as possible to be safe and eliminate more problems down the road.