Everyone wants their engine or transmission to keep running, after all, they’re the most expensive ones. However, these components are built to last nearly as long as the automobile with minimal regular servicing such as oil changes!
On the opposite end of this spectrum, your car’s suspension which might not usually enter your mind also needs some maintenance from time to time. Your vehicle’s suspension system comprises several integral components, such as ball joints, tie rod ends, suspension bushings, shocks, and struts, which gradually wear out and require replacement.
But, can you remember when you got your suspension checked? Do you even know why your car is feeling bumpier than before? If your answer is no, you’re in the wrong way. Before the suspension ruins your ride and leads you to something horrible, read this article till the end.
What Happens If Your Car Suspension Is Bad?
Now you know, the suspension system just like other parts of a vehicle can wear down over time. But what happens if your car suspension is damaged or bad? Well, when worn or damaged suspension parts begin impeding your vehicle’s performance, your mechanic will suggest replacing it with the old one for improved performance and control.
Just by turning down your functioning, missing your braking ability, and dropping your traction, a bad suspension can bring you to a nightmare. Driving a vehicle with a worn or damaged suspension can have a range of repercussions that go from bothersome to life-threatening.
For instance, as you drive, the vehicle can dip or twist depending on what the suspension is doing. It can also manifest itself when driving in a predictable direction and cause you to swerve. A similar effect is seen when you apply brakes and the front of the car starts dipping down.
In these scenarios, the suspension can not stand up to normal forces, and because of this, the car moves much more uncontrollably than you would be accustomed to. Sometimes your shock absorbers are worn, but their springs will still function.
This will induce the vehicle to shake when you drive since the struts can not counteract the resulting effect of the decline of the springs. In this situation, the shock absorbers still need to be replaced, Otherwise, a sharp corner could cause you to unstable and risky cornering.
Common Signs of Suspension Problems
There is a misconception among people that the suspension system of a vehicle is only meant to ensure ride comfort. However, in reality, safe driving is largely dependent on the suspension system.
Suspension parts wear out without you noticing initially. However, the longer you wait before you replace them, the higher the chance that you will sustain a collision. To prevent such a damaging incident, be sure to keep an eye out for some warning signs mentioned below that indicate your suspension has problems.
Worn Tire Treads
You will never need any sort of auto repair or technical skills to notice the first indication of a suspension issue. The general appearance of the tire treads can give you a good idea if this could be the result of a suspension problem.
So, take a close look at your tires, and if there are any reeds that look rougher than the others, whether there are more bald spots on them, or if the tread is considerably less deep, then it may be your driveway or suspension that requires attention.
Yes, it could be that the wheels’ alignment is off, or the wheels are improperly balanced. However, this mostly stems from a broken or damaged suspension. The rubber gasket under the suspension may develop problems with time, particularly if the car is put under much strain.
In such cases, tires will wear out faster when there is increased friction with the road surface. If the suspension isn’t properly balancing the vehicle’s weight, the tires on one side or corner will wear down more so than the others.
Poor Handling or Uncontrolled Steering
Your car’s suspension and steering systems are closely interconnected. Shocks and struts in the suspension improve your car’s ability to grasp the road when going around curves, especially on unpaved roads.
If there is damage to the suspension on your vehicle, your vehicle might be more difficult to maneuver and move in a straight line. On top of that, your vehicle will be more turbulent than usual as you turn.
Damaged or worn-out suspension components can even lead to extreme understeer or oversteer. When this happens, the vehicle feels as if it’s being pulled in a particular direction. Yes, it’s common to notice a bit of understeering or oversteering, but a damaged suspension can simply exacerbate the problem.
Uncomfortable or Bouncy Ride
Of course, there are quite a few common reasons why your car may be driving intermittently. Beyond trouble with the tires, the primary reason you feel each bump in the road and bounce is your suspension. The suspension is rather built to absorb roadway flaws, fractures, potholes, and bumps, making for a serene, comfortable ride.
When your suspension’s shocks, springs, or struts break or wear out, your vehicle may bounce considerably over these bumps. Even if you’re not explicitly aware of it, your passengers may report following a rough ride. You might also experience strange vibrations in the steering wheel or hear loud clunking when your brakes or steering play dirty if your suspension parts have worn.
You can check for this by putting your foot on the bumpers of your vehicle while in parking gear. The car should return to its normal height with just small bouncing up and down. If it bounces up and down a few times, the springs should be repaired at the service center.
One typical test for determining whether suspension is the main source of the issue is parking your automobile and pressing down hard onto the front or rear bumper. The car will bounce back a bit farther than normal initially and then immediately drop to the standard height. If the car bounces up and down repeatedly, then your shocks are probably at the end of their life.
Vehicle Sagging When Parked
Generally, you expect your car to sit level and upright when parked. If you see one corner of the front of your car appear more leaned than the others, this is probably a sign that your suspension spring has literally worn away. Furthermore, you might hear a sudden clunking on the front end when going over a large pothole or a bump.
One thing you can use to identify if everything is all right between the tire and the bodywork is the spacious cavity between the rim of the wheel and the bodywork. But you should check your tires either for damage or exactly to an ideal pressure.
If one side still appears to sag, place yourself on all the weight on the vehicle and pay attention to how your suspension behaves. If you get a sharp squeak, it means that your best choice is to have your suspension mended by a mechanic.
Sometimes driveshafts, transmissions, drive axles, and even the malfunctioning braking system of your car could generate unusual noises from time to time. But, when you notice a consistent knocking, squeaking, or clunking sound coming from under your car, it means that the suspension has damaged parts.
Basically, bushings in the suspension help to ensure smooth motion of the suspension’s moving parts. However, when these bushings are heavily damaged or worn it makes those moving components rattle as you drive.
This is a sign that your suspension needs immediate repair. Driving for a long time with damaged suspension parts such as suspension bushings and tie rod ends with malfunctioning parts like suspension bushings may increase the stress on the other parts of the suspension system.
How to Keep Your Suspension in Good Shape
We know nothing will last for eternity. The same applies to your suspension’s lifespan. Yet with great maintenance, your suspension will bring about your car performing at its best in terms of ride comfort, handling, and perhaps most importantly, safety.
At the same time, you’ll be spared from unwanted repair services. So, what would be the very best thing you can do to take proper care of your vehicle’s suspension? Nothing too hard, just follow the tips mentioned below:
Maintain Proper Wheel Alignment
Getting a proper alignment helps reduce tire wear and aids vehicle handling. A yearly alignment is recommended for the majority of vehicles; if you often drive on difficult, bumpy roads (including those devastated by potholes), it’s recommended that you schedule an alignment every few months.
Inspect Your Tire Treads
As you know, suspension damages are typically signified through unusual tire treads. At the same time, bald tires put extra pressure on the suspension. So, a visual inspection of your tire treads can help to stay alert about possible damage.
If you don’t replace the tires when their tread depth is too low, you’re more than likely to cause damage to the rear suspension, wheels, and bearings. The wearing down of the tires cannot exceed the specified minimal depth of 1/16 inch.
However, according to many experts, a tire with no less than 1/8 inch of tread depth is best for smooth driving in snowy conditions, and at the very least 1 inch is preferable for overly bumpy driving in dry seasons. Regardless of tire tread depth, take note of wear. That might indicate a subsequent alignment problem.
Keep Tires Properly Inflated
It might be quite surprising to novice drivers how tire pressure can relate to suspension. But in reality, this is one of the most important things you should take care of to maintain your suspension in good shape. Keeping your tires properly inflated helps maintain the integrity of the suspension and conserves a holistic approach to maintenance.
Underinflated tires are responsible for risk to other parts of the suspension. Alongside, it leads to high fuel consumption while also damaging handling and braking performance, making your car too dangerous to drive. So, check their air pressure levels regularly (at least once every 2000 km) to ensure that they’re at the amounts recommended by the manufacturer.
Inspect Your Power Steering System
If your automobile has hydraulic power steering, you should periodically check the belt tension levels and the power steering fluid levels at various points in the 6,000-mile cycle or every oil change.
If you neglect to maintain the belt tension or fluid level, you could wind up damaging expensive steering components, and you could create a dangerous situation. You ought to check your owner’s manual to see how frequently your steering fluid should be changed.
Check the Struts and Shocks Periodically
Before the suspension damage becomes evident, you should maintain proper inspection of your shocks and struts on a regular basis. Although You can do it yourself, we recommend consulting with a mechanic.
Although the bulk of wheel alignment checks involves inspecting shocks and struts, additional maintenance might also be necessary, for example, if the shock absorber or strut is leaking. Wheel alignment services at many service stations will find and remediate such issues.
Check the bushings and joints
When your vehicle is serviced, your mechanic will examine the suspension and steering system and its parts at every oil change. Proper bushing lubrication should also be done occasionally.
Although sealed joints are used on modern vehicles, your mechanic will check any of the joints of your vehicle and if necessary it should be lubricated occasionally.
How serious is a bad suspension?
While your car’s suspension system may not appear to concern you at first, it can potentially become extremely costly and unsafe if something goes defective. For instance, if you drive with a faulty or worn-out suspension, your tires may wear out more quickly than usual as well as put you and others on the road in harm’s way.
Can you fix the bad suspension?
Yes, repairing steering and suspension troubles is a fairly simple undertaking. Many notable auto shops will scan for issues and advise you of the solutions. However, it’s an even better option if you can have your vehicle repaired there rather than at home.
Can bad suspension affect transmission?
Many riders erroneously think that a little bit of worn shock absorber will not hurt their automobile. But in fact, this slight damage can easily result in structural or mechanical damage such as compressed driveshafts, massive amounts of control arm damage, or even totally shattered transmission or differential components.
How long should suspension last?
Factors including driving style and road conditions can have a variety of effects on the functional endurance of suspension systems, but they generally last for about 50,000 to 100,000 miles. For a substantial number of motorists, the perfect time to replace the set of shocks or struts is after seven or eight years of vehicle use.
You should remain vigilant if there’s a chance that you may be dealing with undiagnosed suspension issues; otherwise, your journey could easily end up being hazardous.
The probability of road mishaps will increase if parts that are in perfect condition are afflicted by suspension problems which are left undiagnosed and untreated for too long.
The experts recommend you schedule the servicing of your suspension system every year and let users inspect your suspension system at any moment so you know with regard to its current status and condition of it. Always make sure to read the warning signs and try to stick to the maintenance tips we mentioned to extend the lifespan of your suspension system.