Car suspensions have become an incredibly complex, yet crucial, part of the modern car. They exist mostly to create a more comfortable ride for the passengers in the car, by limiting the amount of bouncing around that the car does, and by creating a smoother, more stable ride. Older cars would bounce around the road intensely, but in modern cars, you can easily put an open mug of coffee in the cupholder and still have it all in there when you arrive at your destination.
What is the suspension of your car?
Suspension as a concept is easy to visualize if you think of a mountain bike. Mountain bikes are intended to be taken up and down cross-country mountain trails, where there is no smooth pavement, but rather roots, dirt, rocks, and other objects to be maneuvered over. Therefore, they have a pretty advanced “suspension” system, in the form of the shocks. If you look at the front wheel of a mountain bike, the front and back wheels have a supporting section of springs, which help you, as the driver, bounce over the rocks, holes, sticks, etc., rather than slamming into them and hurting both yourself and the bike.
Cars have a similar, though much more sophisticated system, intended to smooth out the ride that you, as the driver, enjoy throughout your time driving. When you go over small bumps or a road that’s not freshly paved, the suspension helps you to ignore that fact, as it smooths it out.
What causes damage?
Damage to the suspension is caused by consistent wear and tear, as with most things. After time, the suspension is less able to smooth the ride for you and begins to fail. The system takes a constant beating from the roads that we travel. Depending on where you live, those problems can be exacerbated. Any locations that freeze during the winter often have roads covered in frost heaves, which provide yet another area of the road that isn’t flat.
Areas that have poorly maintained infrastructure can also become more problematic, as the plentiful potholes and infrequent upkeep put your car through the ringer and wear it out quicker. Going over potholes, railroad tracks, gravel, dirt, ice salt, and snow can all wear your car out quicker, doing damage to your suspension and causing it to make noise.
All of things can cause a variety of problems, as explained below.
The constant jarring of the car can cause a problem with your wheel alignment; you may notice this if you take your hands off the wheel (safely, on a flat, straight area) and the car drifts noticeably one way or the other. When that is the case, you’ll wear your tires out quicker, and your steering ability will be wonky. Tires can often get jostled out of alignment if you slam into a pothole or after repeated wear and tear.
If your shock absorbers are damaged, you’ll notice that your car no longer behaves as nicely when going over bumps and holes. It will likely bounce much more noticeably when coming out of a hole, and you may notice intensive shaking when traveling over dirt or gravel road. You may also hear a scrubbing, rusty sound coming from the suspension when you hit bumps.
The springs also provide a noticeable difference in the ride when they begin to fail. You may notice that one tire is noticeably lower than the others, noise when going over a bump, or wobbly cornering. There are many other components of your suspension system than those mentioned here, but if you suspect a problem, you should take the car to a professional mechanic.
How can you avoid damage?
You can’t avoid all damage to your suspension system, simply because a lot of the damage is caused simply by wear and tear. If you live in a cold area that suffers from frost and snow, you’re more likely to see the system wear out even faster. However, you should be careful going over speed bumps, maneuver around potholes, and avoid as many of the uneven or rough road surfaces possible.
If you hear a sound, what should you do?
If you hear a sound coming from your suspension system, it’s always best to take it straight to a trusted mechanic or dealer. Chances are, the faster you get the problem fixed, the less long-term damage you’ll cause to the car, and the more likely you will be to save money. Pete’s Auto Repair is a wonderful choice of repair service. We guarantee that we will treat your car with the care it deserves and return it to you safely because the safety of you and your family is always a priority. There is no substitute for expert auto advice, and we’re here to help, no matter what the problem is.