If you’ve been driving for a few years (or even decades), you’re probably pretty comfortable getting your car from Point A to Point B every day. But, how do you feel about diagnosing and fixing issues when your car stops running properly?
If you’re like most Americans, you’re not comfortable at all with this scenario.
Even if you can’t confidently repair your car, you should at least be able to tell when things aren’t right, especially when it comes to important parts like the car’s suspension.
Read on to learn about the warning signs of car suspension problems that you should be on the lookout for.
The purpose of your car’s suspension system is to smooth out your ride and help you keep your car in control. It does this by maximizing friction between the road and your tires.
This provides steering stability and makes your car easy to handle. It also minimizes the impact of road conditions on you, your car, and your passengers.
The suspension system consists of several components, including the following:
If components of your car’s suspension system are worn out or not functioning properly, your car will be less stable. You’ll also have less control behind the wheel, and other parts of your car, such as the tires, will wear unevenly.
As you can see, your car’s suspension is pretty important. Issues with it can lead to severe damage and increase your risk of getting into an accident while driving.
The following are some of the most common car suspension problems you can experience:
Sometimes, when your car pulls to one side while you’re driving, the issue is simply an underinflated tire or uneven tire pressure. However, it can also be a sign of a suspension problem.
Start by checking your tires and inflating any that seem to be low. If this doesn’t fix the problem, you should take your car in to have the suspension checked.
Whatever you do, don’t keep driving your car and putting up with the pulling. Even if the suspension and tires aren’t to blame, it could be an alignment issue or problem with your brake caliper. Both of these issues can decrease your gas mileage and cause uneven tire wear.
If your rides feel rougher than usual, you could have a problem with the shocks and struts of your car. They’re likely worn and need to be replaced.
One way to tell if the suspension is the problem is to try the “bounce test.” Park your car, then put all your weight down on the front end. Release and see how your car responds. If it bounces back and forth more than three times, this is a sign that you need to replace the shocks and/or struts.
Take a look at your car when it’s on level ground. If one of the corners sits lower than the others, chances are you have a damaged spring or shock and your suspension is off.
If you have a damaged spring, you might also hear a clunking noise when you go over bumps.
One way to test the springs is to press down on the trunk of your car. When you release, listen to hear how the suspension reacts to the pressure. If you hear any kind of squealing or creaking, this is further proof that a suspension issue is the cause of the problem.
If you notice any of the following issues with your car, your shocks and/or struts could be damaged:
If these issues happen (and you’re not doing any kind of extreme driving, of course), then you’re likely dealing with some kind of suspension damage.
Finally, if you find that steering is difficult, especially when you’re driving slowly, your suspension could be to blame.
If you notice your steering feels like it’s “slipping” when to turn the wheel or hold it in a turned position, it’s important to get your suspension checked right away.
There are other issues that could be the culprit, including low power steering fluid or a leaking power steering rack. But, it’s still best to get things checked so you can rule out any kind of suspension problem.
If you look under your car and check out your shocks, they should be relatively clean.
If they appear greasy or oily, they’re likely leaking fluid and not working the way they should. Be sure to take your car in and have them replaced right away; this will likely get rid of your suspension issues and smooth out your ride.
If you’re not in the mood to look under the hood (or have no idea what you’re even looking for), another simple way to identify a suspension problem is to take a look at your tired.
Is the tread worn down unevenly? Or, are there balding spots on just one or two tires? If so, this is a sign that your suspension isn’t holding your car evenly and is putting uneven pressure on the tires.