Suspension and Steering

Vehicle suspension systems work to hold the tires to the ground evenly to ensure proper safety during acceleration and stopping. Suspension also functions to smooth the ride of a vehicle under bumpy conditions.

The basics

Suspension systems consist of ball joins, control arms, shocks, struts, coil springs, leaf springs, and stabilizers. Cars and trucks make use of a variety of these parts to provide a smooth ride under adverse conditions.

In many suspension systems, the suspension is hydraulically controlled by a computer called the ride-control module. The computer tracks pressure to each corner of the vehicle. If there is a drastic change in one corner, it will adjust the pressure in the shocks or struts. This readjustment can prevent a car from rolling over.

The suspension system works with the steering system to ensure the proper pressure is applied to each wheel while turning the vehicle.

Normal Wear

The following are signs of normal wear:

  • The car rides bumpy and soft, like a baby carriage.
  • Vibration from the road can be felt by the passengers.
  • The brakes feel like they're not working properly because the suspension in the front dives toward the ground instead of holding the car even. Rear brakes don't work right because the car is higher in the back.
  • Wear on the suspension can cause scraping, which can damage other systems, like the radiator.
  • Play in the steering can be a sign of wear to the steering system.

Care and Maintenance

Car manufacturers recommend that vehicle suspension and steering systems be inspected once a year or every 15,000 miles, whichever comes first. It is important to maintain these systems to keep vehicles safe on the road.