Suspension repair and maintenance
If you’re under the impression that a car’s suspension is only responsible for ensuring you have a smooth ride, you’re not alone.
Many drivers think of suspension as a bit of an extra, or add-on, and therefore, they don’t place it at the top of the list when it comes to car maintenance.
Sure, suspension certainly cushions bumps and jolts when driving, but the truth is that it does a lot more than just enhance your comfort.
In fact, your suspension is an intricate system of different pieces and parts.
And each of these components plays an important role in maintaining your car’s performance, reliability, and safety.
If you’re unsure about the importance of suspension repair and maintenance, read on.
What does suspension do for your car?
We all know that your car’s suspension absorbs bumps in the roads, and generally makes for a more comfortable ride, but it does a lot more than that.
Vehicle suspension is actually responsible for ensuring your tyres stay connected with the road which means better grip and braking.
A single worn shock absorber in your suspension system can add up to two metres to the stopping distance of a car travelling at just 50 kmph, which is the width of a pedestrian crossing.
“Your suspension is an intricate system of different pieces and parts…. each plays an important role in maintaining your car’s performance, reliability, and safety.”
Your suspension also enhances your steering for safer, more reliable turning and provides balance during emergency maneuvers which helps to stop your car from rolling.
When your suspension isn’t properly maintained it can also result in faster and more uneven tyre wear, which further compromises safety.
What is a car’s suspension system made up of?
Your car's suspension system is made up of four basic components:
- Shock absorbers
Shock absorbers and struts are vital for on road safety, performing the function of keeping the tyres evenly connected with the road, and maintaining a vertical load on the tyres.
The springs support the weight of your car, and act as a flexible link that allows the body and frame to ride with minimal disturbance, while the tyres follow the road.
Struts perform two main jobs:
- To generate resistance to force or impact in a similar way to shock absorbers
- To provide structural support for the spring and to hold the tyre in it’s aligned position.
We know how important that your suspension is to the overall performance, comfort and safety of your car.
Badly maintained suspension results in faster and more uneven tyre wear, which further compromises safety.
While, suspension problems can be common, early detection can help prevent more serious issues from occurring. Signs that your suspension isn’t working as it should include:
- Your car feels rough to drive
- You can feel drifting or pulling when you make turns
- You experience a bouncing feeling when driving
- Unusual noises
- Your vehicle nosedives when you brake
Generally speaking, suspension systems are designed to last and will simply wear out slowly due to general use. With proper maintenance and routine inspections, you can expect only minor issues that can usually be quickly fixed. However, there are times when your suspension could fail or collapse suddenly. This can happen as a result of:
- Large bumps: Particularly uneven roads can damage suspension springs or cause them to collapse completely.
- Excess loading: This usually only happens when suspension springs are carrying over the vehicle’s load rating.
- Rust: Since suspension springs are made of steel, over time they can corrode and develop rust. This weakens the strength - of the springs making them more vulnerable to damage and collapse.
The shock absorbers on your car go through as many as one thousand movements per kilometre, so they should be checked every 20,000 kilometres to ensure safe and optimum operation.
You may wish to book in for a suspension check sooner if you:
- Regularly drive over bumps or uneven roads
- Have recently had an accident
- Or you suspect that something isn’t working as it should
“Badly maintained suspension results in faster and more uneven tyre wear, which further compromises safety.”
Like all parts of a car, nothing is made to last forever, and eventually you will need to replace certain parts of your suspension system.
However, if you drive largely on smooth surfaces, have regular checks and maintenance, and if you don’t experience any major impact to your car, your system could function perfectly for up to 100,000 km or longer.
Suspension damage comes in many different forms including: general wear and tear, corrosion, impact damage, or collapse.
It’s not always obvious or apparent when there is damage that could cause issues around safety and performance.
This is why it’s important to have regular checks and if you have any concerns, book in with a professional.
A tyre and auto expert will thoroughly check your suspension system for any issues to avoid any further damage or costly repairs.
If you don't have a well maintained suspension system you are not as safe as you should be, and you could be putting yourself and others at risk.