Ask a Technician: How Do I Know Whether My Suspension is Healthy?
Keep your car's suspension in top form for safer handling and better performance
Automotive suspensions have grown increasingly complex as consumers demand better handling, a kinder ride, and greater sophistication from their automobiles. While the quality across the board is improving with automotive suspensions, they require periodic inspection and maintenance like other systems on your vehicle.
So how do you know if your suspension is healthy? To start, you need to know the basics of how suspensions work.
Usually, there are springs to support the weight of the vehicle, shocks and/or struts to dampen up-and-down motions (think of the thing that keeps your screen door from slamming—it’s the same idea), and a series of bars, arms, and joints that keep your wheels pointed in the right direction and at the right angle.
What To Look Out For
From a drivers’ perspective, there are several things to look out for. Worn suspensions often creak or clunk while steering or going over bumps. Turn the radio off and drive normally for a period of time at various speeds to see if you hear anything you don’t remember hearing when the car was newer. Next, try driving on a straight road. Does it feel like your car is pulling to one side? Does it seem to wallow around curves and over bumps? Is there irregular tire wear or awkward handling? All these things can point to worn suspension components. This type of wear tends to creep up gradually, so things may feel “normal” to the person driving the car every day. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should take your car to the dealership as soon as possible to have your suspension inspected.
Other Tips To Keep Your Suspension Healthy
There are dozens of moving parts involved in your suspension, and by keeping a careful eye on them you will likely enjoy longer component life. As always, we suggest a preventative approach to keeping your suspension healthy. When your car is at our dealership for other maintenance, ask that your shocks, struts, and ball joints be inspected for damage or wear. Evidence of problems is often hidden in the deepest recesses of your vehicle’s undercarriage, so having it up on a lift in the hands of one of our professional technicians is the best way to check for damage. Leaking shocks or struts, cracked or visibly worn componentry, or torn rubber bushings can be signs of problems to come.
The best approach, of course, is to ask your service manager to keep an eye on your suspension. Being aware of impending problems and having them addressed early will keep you safer and help you save money in the long run.
For more information about keeping your suspension healthy or to schedule a service appointment, contact our dealership today.