5 Warning Signs of Car Suspension Problems
Your car's suspension is designed to be very tough -- but not indestructible. Driving on gravel with bumps or potholes, braking hard, off-roading, and negligible car maintenance will tend to weaken it over time. Once it happens, then your comfort -- and safety -- becomes very much compromised.
Unfortunately, your vehicle's suspension system is one of the hardest and most difficult areas to work on. It's also made up of complicated parts, making it much harder to diagnose.
Still, your car has its own ways of telling you when something's wrong. And it shouldn't be hard to miss if you're paying attention. Here are some of its warning signs:
1. It nose dives, lean backs, or rolls
An unnecessary or awkward movement from your car isn't a good sign. This is particularly true when you're just using it for everyday situations -- not drag racing.
Ask yourself the following:
- When you use your brakes, does it lean forward, like it's taking a nose dive?
- Does you car lean back -- or seem to squat -- when you press on the accelerator?
- When you turn on a corner, does your vehicle roll, like it's leaning from side-to-side?
- Do you feel a sensation of your car getting extremely pulled to one side when you're turning? This shows your shock absorbers are failing to keep your car stable against the force of the turn. Your car's risk of rolling over becomes more possible in this case.
2. You have a rough ride
In some ways, a pothole or a huge bump can be a driver's friend, since they will indicate suspension problems if you feel them intensely while driving.
What's more, if that huge bump that you accidentally run over makes your car "bounce", then it's telling you it needs help.
Here's a bounce test you can do: Push your entire weight down in front of the car's front end. Release, and then count the number of times it bounces back. If you count three or more bounces, then your suspension -- particularly the shock absorber (and/or struts) -- is in need of replacement.
3. Your car's weight isn't distributed evenly
Does it look like one part of your car is sagging? Or one corner is resting a bit lower than the other side? If that's the case, then suspect a damaged spring. This becomes even more possible if you also hear a clunking noise whenever you pass over a bump or deep pothole.
Here's another test you can do: Push down very hard on your vehicle's trunk, release, and observe how the suspension reacts. A squeaking or creaking sound is a bad sign, and may indicate problems with the spring, bushings, and shocks.
Don't wait for your car to drag itself on the road. Have it inspected as soon as you notice these signs.
4. Your tires have uneven treads
Look at your tires closely. Does it look like one or more of them have uneven, worn-out treads? Or can you see balding spots in some tires?
Unfortunately, this is an indicator that your suspension isn't supporting your car evenly. This puts added pressure and weight on some of your tires. See here how to maintain your tires and other car parts.
5. Your shock absorbers are oily
Check out your car's shock absorbers and see if they look greasy or oily. If they do, then they might be leaking fluid. Chances are they won't be working properly as well, so have them checked as soon as possible.
Your vehicle's suspension system is mostly responsible for your safety and comfort when driving on the road -- so don't take those small warning signs for granted. Pay attention to what your car is saying, and have it checked immediately when needed. For all you know, it might save your life in the end .
Updated by Wilbert Tan on August 26, 2020