7 Reasons to Be Suspicious of Your Car's Suspension
RIO Car Wash knows the suspension in your car is essential to a smooth and comfortable drive, but it's also vital to your safety. A properly working suspension maximizes the contact between the tires and the road, improving traction, and making the car safer and easier to control.
A vehicle's suspension is made up of three main parts:
- The chassis which supports the main body of the car.
- The springs, shocks, and struts which together put a smoothing buffer between the car's weight and the wheels.
- The anti-sway bar, which stabilizes the car's weight and position across all wheels as equally as possible.
A problem in any part of the system will reduce handling performance, make the car more unpredictable to drive, and vastly increase the risks of accident. Catching any fault before it gets to this stage is essential, and here are seven warning signs to watch out for.
1) Uneven Tire Wear
You don't need any mechanical knowledge at all to spot the first sign of a suspension problem. Take a look at your tires, and if one or two seem to be more badly worn than the others, with shallower treads or even bald spots, a bad suspension is a likely culprit.
Tires wear down more quickly the more friction there is with the road surface. If the suspension isn't correctly balancing the weight of the vehicle, one side or corner will be under more pressure than the others, and so that tire will wear down more quickly.
2) Sideways Drift
The next sign is a noticeable sideways drift when driving, even when you're steering straight ahead. This can be caused by badly inflated tires, so check the pressure of each one and correct it if needed. But if the drifting still happens, then book your car in to the repair shop to have the suspension checked over, before any fault starts to cause more serious damage to your brakes or tires.
3) Leaning Back or Forward
Similarly, if the car seems to lean downward and forward when you hit the brakes, or backward and upward when you accelerate, then the suspension isn't doing its balancing job correctly and needs to be checked.
4) A Bumpy Ride
If your car starts to drive less smoothly than usual, and you can feel every bump or pothole in the road, the suspension's shocks and struts could be starting to wear out. The classic test to confirm this problem is to park your car and press down as firmly as you can on one corner of the bodywork. The car should bounce back up slightly higher than normal, then settle straight back into a level position. If the car continues to bounce up and down, then the shocks are probably nearing their end.
5) Uneven Balance
If one corner of the car is lower to the ground than the others when it's stopped, it's a sure sign there's a problem in the suspension. You can confirm the issue by pressing down hard on the affected corner. As it moves back upward you may hear a clunking or squealing sound, which is a sign that the springs are bad. In any case, you should book an inspection for as soon as you can.
6) Spots Under the Car
If there are any spots or drips under the car near its wheels, the suspension fluid could be leaking from the shock absorbers. An earlier sign of the same problem can be excessive amounts of grease around the shocks themselves, if you know where to look.
7) Steering Problems
Lastly, if your car is becoming more difficult to steer, especially at lower speeds, it's important to have it checked out as soon as possible. A failing suspension is only one of the possible causes, but any issue with steering is a dangerous one that needs fixing immediately.
A good mechanic will be able to diagnose a suspension fault in a matter of minutes. The sooner you catch the problem the less it will cost to fix, so be on the lookout for these signs. RIO Car Wash recommends you book an inspection as soon as you suspect the suspension may be starting to fail.