Shocks & Suspension: Warning Signs It Is Time to Replace the System

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How does your car feel while you're driving? If your shocks and struts are good, you probably feel a smooth ride. Your car's shock absorbers prevent excessive bouncing as you drive over bumpy roads or pick up speed. The front struts have multiple jobs and are an important structural part of your vehicle's suspension system. Struts mount on the top of your car's chassis components. They also act as a place to mount your vehicle's coil spring, which maintains its ride height. Finally, the struts and the rest of the suspension system connect to your car's knuckle, which is responsible for allowing a mechanic to make minor adjustments to the alignment. Maintaining proper maintenance and, when required, replacement of your shock absorbers and suspension system ensures you don't find yourself with an exceptionally bumpy ride anytime soon. It may be time for an inspection if you notice any of these symptoms.

The Ride Doesn't Feel Smooth

Of course, the biggest indicator that you need to replace part of your suspension system is a sensation of shaking when you are driving. This is especially true if you are driving on uneven payment or at highway speeds. Sometimes, people assume the jarring is only because of the road. If you want to be sure, you can put your vehicle through a "bounce test." This easy test involves putting your car in park and then using your full weight to "bounce" on the front of it a few times before releasing it. Repeat the process on the rear of the vehicle. After you release the pressure, you shouldn't notice more than two bounces. If your vehicle bounces more than that, the suspension could be wearing out.

Your Car Is Taking a Nosedive

"Taking a nosedive" is exactly what it sounds like in this case. When you are trying to stop your vehicle, do you notice that the front of it — the nose — still tries to go forward or dips down? This could be an indicator that you need new shocks or struts for your car's suspension system. Even if you can't physically see the car doing a nose dive, you may be able to feel it in the form of a lurching movement when you brake. A bad suspension system can increase your stop time and distance by as much as 20 percent, so it is important to factor this change into your driving until you can take your vehicle to the shop for an inspection.

It Is Harder to Steer

Steering issues are common for drivers who need to replace their suspension system. If you notice that your steering wheel feels stiffer than usual or is otherwise hard to turn, you may need to replace a component in your steering or suspension system. You might also hear unusual noises when you try to turn your steering wheel, or you could feel as if your car is swaying or leaning to one side each time you try to turn or change lanes. This drifting feeling occurs because your vehicle's suspension system cannot keep it stable against centrifugal force while turning.

Your Tires Aren't Wearing Out Evenly 

Uneven wear on tires is the biggest visual indicator that your vehicle needs a new component or suspension system. A worn suspension system means more bouncing, which means your tires are also moving as they hit the ground. This causes them to lose rubber. Known as cupping, lost rubber will look like dips developing near the edges of your tire treads. Smooth patches or other uneven wear and tear on the tires could mean you need new shocks and struts. Keep in mind that uneven tires can be a problem on their own, so be sure to see about having them rotated or replaced when talking to your mechanic about your suspension system.

Of course, there are some smaller indicators that you may need to replace your car's suspension system, such as having driven 50,000 miles without doing so. Watching for these symptoms and receiving proper maintenance helps to ensure the safety and integrity of you and your vehicle while you're on the road. Always visit a reputable shop when you are having someone work on your car. You can’t go wrong with one of Sun Devil Auto's many locations throughout the Phoenix area. Contact our professional automotive Service Consultants to learn how they can help you with your car's shocks, struts and suspension system.