Car Suspension Experts dandenong

Diagnosing the Most Common Symptoms of Suspension Failure

Suspension issues can be difficult to diagnose. It’s usually pretty easy to tell the symptoms, but identifying the source of the issue is another animal. Faulty or worn shocks, struts, springs, tie rods or ball joints can wreak havoc on your vehicle and make your car or truck unsafe to drive.

Suspension Repairs Dandenong

Wear and tear is only an issue if you actively ignore the problem and allow your vehicle to run itself into the ground! Pay attention to how your vehicle handles and what you’re hearing—and address problems immediately as they arise.

You’ll Rarely Walk Away from an Accident With No Damage

Even the slightest fender-bender can have a nasty domino effect on the health of your car or truck. An embarrassingly slow collision at a 4-way intersection can still result in damage to your suspension system. It may not jump out at you, but small initial signs can grow into significant I-need-a-tow-truck issues on the side of the highway in the future. You can’t ignore this stuff.

Read on for some of the most common symptoms of problems with suspension parts in your vehicle, especially after an accident.

1. Pulling to One Side While Driving

An underinflated tire is a common reason for your car pulling, and a problem easily fixed.

Pulling to the left or right is the most common sign of suspension problems. It can also be one of the hardest problems to diagnose without the help of a professional. Tires need to be aligned precisely for toe-in, caster and camber. Poor alignment means uneven tire wear, annoying pulling, a constant fight with the steering wheel, and even decreased gas mileage. Your vehicle could be pulling for any number of reasons:

  • Uneven tire pressure
  • Uneven tire wear
  • Poor alignment
  • Bad tie rods or steering rack
  • Sticking brake caliper

If you blow through a pothole or climb over a curb or two, your alignment can get out of whack. Sudden changes in alignment don’t happen magically. Something broke. It could be a broken spring or control arm.

Maybe It’s Just a Tire Issue

Sometimes fixing the problem can be as simple as inflating an underinflated tire or by rotating the tires. Other times, it could involve a few hours in the shop and complete replacement of key suspension components. Either way, ignoring this problems only makes things worse. It won’t fix itself.

Come down to our pick and pull junkyard near Milwaukee to find a used replacement tire with the right specs if you’ve got a tire with excessive wear or one that won’t hold air.

Before shopping for tires, learn how to read your tire size so you know exactly what you’re looking for.

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2. Feeling Every Bump in the Road

A rough ride is a clear indicator your shocks or struts could be worn and in need of replacement. When every bump on the road makes your car bounce, you’ve got suspension problems and need to get it checked out.

Try the bounce test—when your car is parked, put all of your weight on the front end, release, and observe how the vehicle responds. If it bounces back and forth 3 or more times, the shocks and/or struts are worn and need replacing.

Worn Shock Absorbers Mean Big Problems

Shock absorbers, true to the name, are the main culprit when your car feels “bumpier” than ever. They’re designed to keep your tires on the road. When they don’t, the car will bounce all over the place. Shocks have fluid which dampen the bouncing. When they leak, their performance suffers and the absorbers will eventually fail.

Don’t Count Out a Worn Leaf Spring

Leaf springs may sometimes cause problems with excessive bouncing. You can double check the possibility of a busted leaf spring by checking if the car or truck seems to “lean” back in a standing position. Many trucks are designed to be “nose down” to accomodate extra weight in the rear. If your pickup truck appears to sit level, it could be extra proof of an issue with a leaf spring.

Even the slightest damage from an accident can cause shocks to leak and permanently damage them beyond repair. Get it checked out.

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3. One Corner of the Car is Sitting Low

Some slight cosmetic damage from a minor accident doesn’t rule out damage to your suspension.

When your car is on level ground, but one corner sits lower than the others, you’ve likely got a damaged spring. You may notice a clunking noise when going over bumps, and cornering could be compromised, because a damaged spring can’t support the weight.

The relationship between the shock and the spring is the main contributor to this problem. A blown shock may cause an overcompression of the spring and lower sitting height. A blown shock doesn’t have a direct impact on height, but it will make a car react poorly in bad road conditions.

Test Springs by Pushing Down on the Trunk

The easiest way to diagnose spring problems is by pushing down on the trunk of the car or truck, releasing, and listen to how the suspension reacts. If you hear a creaking or squealing sound, you’ve definitely got a suspension problem with the shocks, springs, bushings or related parts.

Even the slightest loss of height in one or multiple corners of the vehicle could indicate a leak or failure in your shocks or springs. Don’t wait until your car is dragging along the highway before getting it inspected.

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4. Momentum Makes Your Car Nose Dive, Lean Back, or Roll

Shocks or struts can be in need of replacement when you notice the following related issues:

  • Your car “nose dives” when braking (it leans forward).
  • Your vehicle “rolls” to the side when cornering (it leans side-to-side).
  • Your car “squats” during acceleration (it leans backward).

Of course, with extreme handling, you could force these things to happen in a vehicle with a brand new suspension system. We’re talking about everyday driving situations. You shouldn’t be leaning forward for a routine stop in a suburban intersection.

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5. Difficult Steering

Don’t expect to escape this kind of damage without some big time suspension damage.

If you find steering is especially difficult, especially when you’re moving slowly, something might be wrong with your suspension. Sometimes the steering may feel like it’s “slipping” when you turn the wheel or hold it in a turned position. Any number of components in your power steering system could be a source of these issues, including:

  • Low power steering fluid
  • Worn or loose power steering belt
  • Faulty power steering pump
  • Leaking power steering rack
  • Worn control arm bushings