For a lot of our clients who aren't auto experts, we've noticed that the suspension system can be an intimidating thing to grasp, so in this post we'd like to de-mystify it with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
First and foremost, let's define what a suspension system is: wheels, tires, shocks absorbers, springs, and all other parts forming a connection between a car's body and its tires, and its purpose is to maximize the friction between the tires and the road surface, steering stability, good handling and a comfortable ride for the passengers.
Now, to the Q&A...
Q: WHAT IS A SUSPENSION SYSTEM?
A: Wheels, tires, shocks absorbers, springs, and all other parts forming a connection between a car's body and its tires.
Q: WHAT IS THE JOB OF A SUSPENSION SYSTEM?
A: Maximize the friction between the tires and the road surface,& steering stability, good handling and a comfortable ride for the passengers.
Q: WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTS OF THE SUSPENSION SYSTEM?
A: Springs, Dampers/Shock Absorbers, struts, Roll Bars/Anti-sway
Q: WHAT ARE SPRINGS?
A: In most cars the springs are typically made up of steel because of its elasticity. A spring is the lone part of the suspension meant to last a lifetime and is the only thing that requires minimal to no maintenance. That being the case, we still recommend that it be checked over time.
Q: WHAT ARE DAMPERS/ WHAT ARE SHOCK ABSORBERS
A: They serve the purpose of limiting the oscillation of the springs; absorbing all the excess energy from the springs when driving over bumps.
Q: WHAT ARE STRUTS
A: They join both springs & dampers and eventually wear out, which make them hazardous to the driver and passengers.
Q: WHAT ARE ROLL BARS?
A: Metal bars that connect suspensions systems of two wheels.
Q: WHY REPLACE WORN SHOCKS OR STRUTS?
A: For increased vehicle stability and improved driver control.
Q: WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS OF WORN SHOCKS AND STRUTS?
A: Most drivers don't notice the signs because it happens gradually over time. The warning signs of worn shocks and struts include:
- Excessive Bouncing
- Reduced Stability
- Tire Wear
- Leaking Fluid
- Additional Signs: vibrating steering wheel, failure to hold the road on curves, car leaning to/favoring one side even when still, upper or lower mount broken, broken dust jacket
NOTE ON SHOCKS & STRUTS: A shock and a strut both absorb shock from the road and give you a smoother, safer ride and better driver control. However, the one can't substitute for the other. Newer vehicles typically have one or the other but not usually both. But mostly older ones may have struts on the front axle and shocks on the rear.
Q: WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS OF SUSPENSION PROBLEMS?
A: Signs of suspension system problems include:
- Car dipping forward upon applying brakes
- Car dipping on one corner
- Car favoring one side while moving
- Drifting when turning corners
- Oily shocks and struts