The performance of your vehicle’s suspension system has a direct impact on its handling and overall ride quality. If one of the system’s critical components fails, your overall driving experience will ultimately suffer. Here are five suspension issues to watch out for.
Ideally, you should obtain a wheel alignment at least once a year. The process involves adjusting the vehicle’s suspension to its proper specifications. If your car has started to pull to one side while driving or experiences abnormal tire tread wear, these are tell-tale signs that a wheel alignment is needed.
If you neglect to get a wheel alignment, quite a few problems can occur. For starters, your tires won’t last nearly as long. Extra stress is also placed upon the various suspension components, which can cause them to fail sooner than expected. Because a bad wheel alignment gives you less control over your vehicle, this becomes a serious safety issue.
Bad Shocks or Structs
Some shocks and struts can easily last for more than 100,000 miles. However, routinely traveling on rough roads can cause these suspension parts to prematurely wear out. If you have a pickup truck that is often used for hauling heavy loads or venturing off-road, the extra stress can also cause the shocks to deteriorate.
There are some clear signs a vehicle’s shocks or struts need to be replaced. Its ride will eventually become a lot bouncier. You may also notice that your car feels wobbly upon taking a sharp curve. Furthermore, severe front-end nosediving can occur when braking hard.
Damaged Suspension Spring
A damaged suspension spring is a problem that can’t be ignored. Your vehicle will experience a major lack of control and balance. Symptoms of a broken spring are similar to that of a bad strut. However, don’t be surprised if your vehicle also sags a bit on one side.
The good news is that a collapsed spring isn’t common. Rust is among the biggest contributing factors to premature failure. Salts used on snowy roads can gradually eat through the underlying metal, thus causing the spring to weaken. This is why it’s important to obtain a pre-purchase inspection before buying a used car. A good mechanic will be able to quickly recognize the signs of oxidation.
Bad Control Arms
Control arms essentially connect your front wheels to the car’s frame. When these parts begin to go bad, steering will eventually become unstable. Their inner bushings tend to wear out as you begin to rack up the miles.
If you start to hear a popping sound when going over bumps at lower speeds, there’s a good chance one of the control arms is failing. Uneven tire wear is another common symptom. Meanwhile, a bent control arm usually causes a clunk while turning.
Worn Ball Joints
These parts are the pivot points that attach the suspension to your vehicle’s wheels. They are designed to rotate with the steering wheel movement. Because the weight of the car’s front end rests on them, lower ball joints often wear out faster.
When the ball joints have started to deteriorate, expect to hear them squeaking and creaking as you’re making a turn. Schedule an appointment with your mechanic. While the car is on a lift, they will be able to visually and physically check the ball joints.