The suspension system of a vehicle is designed to last for tens of thousands of miles over many years. However, it can quickly be damaged when the vehicle hits a kerb, a pothole, or a large obstacle in the road. It can also wear out more quickly when the vehicle is frequently driven over bumpy roads or off-road. The suspension on a workhorse vehicle such as one that continually hauls heavy loads can also be expected to wear out more quickly. Because these unpredictable elements can affect the life of your vehicle, it is important for you to know the condition of the suspension system by having it inspected periodically. During a suspension inspection at Auto Select, broken or missing parts can be identified early and remedied before further damage can occur.
Importance of Suspension
A failed suspension system can be dangerous as it can cause the driver to lose control over the vehicle. Damaged suspension systems are often the reason for the worst types of vehicle damage and serious accidents.
The suspension system on your car is composed of shock absorbers and springs. The springs are there to support the weight of the vehicle above the axles and to absorb the force of impact when the vehicle bounces over bumps in the road. The shocks are there to smooth out the ride by rebounding the ‘bounce’ from the springs. Shocks are also responsible for forcing the tyres of the vehicle to maintain constant contact with the road. The shocks are responsible for the handling performance of the vehicle, in other words, the ease with which you are able to control the vehicle.
Even though suspension springs are made of heavy-duty materials, they can be expected to wear out over time or even break under certain conditions. In the same way, even though they are very tough, shock absorbers will also wear out over time.
Your vehicle may be equipped with struts instead of separate shocks and springs. A strut is a combination of a shock absorber and a spring but like shocks, they are subject to wear and tear that can limit their lifespan. Just like shocks, inspecting struts should be part of your maintenance routine in order to detect any areas of wear and tear.
Since a properly functioning suspension system is a critical part of the safety features of your vehicle, it is always best practice to be proactive about its routine inspection and maintenance. When it comes to safety, good suspension care can go a long way towards preventing vehicle accidents. There are certain warning signs that the suspension system of your vehicle may need attention. Here are some of the signs to look out for:
- A ‘cupped’ wear pattern on the tyres is usually caused by uneven bouncing of the shocks.
- Bad shocks may affect the handling performance of the vehicle. If you experience a drifting sensation during cornering, sometimes referred to as a ‘floating feeling’, you need to have the shocks checked.
- If the vehicle rocks back and forth when it comes to a stop or the front dips significantly after braking, it may be time to replace the shocks.
Any of the above symptoms warrant the immediate inspection of the suspension system. At Auto Select, our expert technicians are trained to carry out a visual check of the shock absorbers on your vehicle. If there is a leak anywhere it means that the shock absorbers need to be replaced.
If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident that damaged one of the tyres, you should have your suspension system inspected. Never put off recommended repairs after a suspension inspection as it could lead to system failure and a serious accident.
Replacements and Upgrades
If one of the shocks on your vehicle has failed you need to replace all four at the same time to allow even handling of the vehicle. It is rarely good auto advice to replace only one shock unless it is a temporary solution until you can have the problem properly attended to.
When replacing shock absorbers or struts it is always best to use equivalent parts or better ones than the original shocks on the vehicle. The original parts on a vehicle are designed for the specific weight of the vehicle and its expected use and should never be downgraded. Upgrading, on the other hand, can be beneficial.
If you wish to improve the handling performance of your vehicle for example or the suspension is expected to undergo an unusual workout, you should upgrade the shocks to a higher grade of performance shock absorbers. If your vehicle is regularly used to haul heavy loads or you make use of a trailer, it is definitely recommended to replace the shocks with heavy-duty ones.