Our vehicle’s suspension system (i.e., shocks or struts) is something we often take for granted. However, after supporting several tons of metal year after year, eventually the shocks will wear out and suspension repair will be necessary. Some people mistakenly believe the suspension is mainly about having a smooth ride, and therefore these repairs aren’t as important as other maintenance issues like oil changes or brakes. However, having a bad suspension can greatly affect your ability to control the vehicle, especially when stopping or turning. Keeping all of this in mind, it’s in your best interest not to ignore this integral part of your auto maintenance.
How do you know when it’s time for suspension repair?
Your vehicle will usually tell you, here are some things to look out for:
Car rides roughly
A rough ride is an obvious sign that your vehicle’s suspension needs work. Most people will be able to tell their shocks or struts are wearing out when they begin to feel every bump in the road, or when every bump causes the vehicle body to “bounce.”
Drifting or pulling during turns
With a failing suspension system, you’ll often feel the vehicle “drift” or “pull” when you’re turning. This basically means the shocks are no longer keeping the vehicle body stable against the centrifugal force of a turn, increasing your risk of a rollover.
Dips or “nose dives” when stopping
When the shocks are worn out, you’re likely to feel the vehicle body lurching forward and downward nose-first when you apply the brakes firmly. This can actually affect your ability to stop the car quickly. Pro Tip: a bad or worn suspension system can increase your stopping distance by up to 20 percent!
Uneven tire wear
Take a look at your tires. If you notice the tread is wearing unevenly on your tires, or if you notice balding spots, this is often a symptom that the suspension isn’t holding the car on the road evenly, and therefore putting uneven amounts of pressure on the surface of the tires.
If you are unsure of the above and want to be a little more certain, you can try what we call a “bounce test.” If you suspect your suspension is going bad (perhaps due to one or more of the symptoms we mentioned above), try this simple test. With the car in “park,” press down on the front of the vehicle with all your weight, “bounce” it a few times, then release. Do it again on the rear of the vehicle. If the car continues to rock or bounce more than 2-3 times after you release it, the suspension is wearing out.
For the best peace of mind, bring your car into A-Z Auto Repair, located in Winchester, VA for a full inspection. You may or may not be sure, but we can definitely check it out and make any needed repairs and replacements for you. If you suspect there is a problem, don’t put off getting your suspension checked out, it can cost you more money the longer you wait.
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