What is a suspension system and why is it important?
Have you ever stopped to wonder how important the suspension system of your car might be? It is the only system that helps your take all the imperfections on the road with ease and allows you to have a nice driving experience. Suspension system is a system that connects a vehicle to its wheels and permits relative motion between the two entities. Suspension system is not just about ensuring a smooth drive but also about giving a car good handling and braking qualities to ensure you have a pleasurable driving experience. Suspension components like struts, shock absorbers, springs and tires take regular pounding from various types of paved/unpaved roads and weather conditions. Years of wear and tear can take a toll on this important system of your vehicle. For instance, if you are experiencing excessive bouncing while going over bumps or the car leans heavily on one side, it can be a wake-up call for you to get the suspension system inspected.
What are the signs of suspension issues?
Worn struts or shock absorbers → if you feel that your car is bouncing excessively while going over bumps or it nosedives when you brake (suspension bottoming out), your shock absorbers or struts may need replacement.
Uneven tire wear → if you observe bald spots on your tires, the suspension system may not be holding the wheels at the proper angle, even on the road.
Bad spring coils → is your car leaning heavily on one side or the drive is not smooth? There may be a problem with your spring coils and it requires immediate attention.
Leaking shocks → if you find oil leaking on your garage floor or a leak is visible from the shocks, the shocks have to be replaced.
Ball joint problems → Ball joints are the pivot points that attach the suspension to the wheels and absorb some of the shock from up and down movement and rotate when the angle of steering changes. So while turning your car, if you hear squeaking and creaking, the ball joints may need replacement. If the joint breaks and suspension parts are seen dragging on the road, it means you are too late and may have to incur higher costs.
Control arm issues → Control arms are hinges which connect the steering to the wheels and hold the wheels to the frame. If you hear clunks or rattles, it is a sign of loose and imprecise steering and hence a failing control arm.
An easy test to check the health of your suspension system
If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, try out this test to make sure if something is wrong with your suspension. With your car parked on a plain surface, press down on the front of it with your entire weight. Make it bounce a few times and then release. Repeat the same process on the rear end. If your car continues to bounce more than 2 or 3 times, after releasing it, the suspension is failing.
Resolution of suspension issues
If you suspect that your vehicle’s suspension system is not functioning properly, seek the help of a reputed automotive repair shop or garage at the earliest. Ignoring the problem can lead to unnecessary additional expenses. You should also go through the manufacturer’s manual to check suspension maintenance instructions.
Look out for these too
Lubrication of your suspension system is crucial for smooth functioning. Some parts which are permanently lubricated and sealed may require repair or replacement if they undergo extreme friction. Common indications that the steering and suspension need lubrication are – squeaking noise while turning or driving over bumps, groaning or loud sound while turning and bumpy suspension.
How much would it cost you in terms of money and time?
Suspension fix is something that is highly dependent on the components that needs fixing and/or replacement. If it is small units like ball joints, you may still get away with a light bill. However, major repairs like strut replacement or control arm issues can set you back quite a bit. So, the best way to go about it is to have a second opinion as well and then getting the right component fixed.
While there is little you can do about suspension issues when your vehicle is old, do understand the nature of your car and how equipped it is to handle difficult terrains. This will help you elongate the life of the suspension system before components start showing their age and ask for replacement. We at CarDekho would be happy to help you get a detailed inspection of your suspension system done (if needed) and address any issues. Just log on to services.cardekho.com and get a fair cost estimate.