A complex system of springs and shock absorbers, your car’s suspension plays a crucial role in keeping you comfortable and safe while driving. It limits vibrations and harsh undulations, ensuring a more comfortable driving experience. Even more importantly, by absorbing the impact from bumps and dips in the surface of the road, it helps to keep your tyres firmly in contact with the ground - which is essential for effective braking and handling. This means that problems with your suspension can put you at greater risk behind the wheel. It’s not always obvious if there is a fault or weakness with this vital system. Often, a decrease in suspension performance is gradual, meaning it can be hard to detect. To help you work out if your vehicle’s suspension needs some TLC, it’s useful to ask yourself the following questions.
Does the ride feel bumpier?
One of the first tell-tale signs that your car’s suspension has seen better days is that your journeys start to feel bumpier. You’ll notice this issue most when you’re travelling over uneven surfaces. A bumpier ride could be a sign that the parts of this system are simply suffering from general wear and tear, or it could indicate a more specific problem with one or more components. So, if your tyres are inflated to the correct level and you think your ride seems more jarring than normal, it’s a good idea to get your suspension checked out.
Are your tyres wearing out unevenly?
By law in the UK, tyres need to have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm, and many safety experts recommend getting replacements once the tread wears down to below 3mm. This means that it’s important to keep an eye on tread wear, especially as your tyres start to get close to the minimum. But there’s another reason to keep tabs on the wear of your tyres too. If the tread is uneven (for example the outside or inside is more worn than the rest), this is a sure sign that something is wrong. One possible explanation for this issue is that there is a problem with your suspension system. For instance, springs may have loosened or ball joints may have worn. However, there are other possible causes of uneven wear, including incorrect wheel alignment or incorrectly inflated tyres, so you may need to rule these out first.
Is the handling less responsive?
If you sometimes notice a pull or drift when you’re turning corners, this could suggest something’s amiss with your suspension. Particularly if this problem is associated with a knocking sound as you corner, it’s a good idea to get your suspension looked at by a specialist technician. The issue may be caused by a damaged anti-roll bar. This component is designed to keep your car stable against the force exerted on it as you turn. If it’s not working properly, this can pose a serious safety risk.
Does your vehicle dip at one corner?
Cars shouldn’t dip unevenly at the corners. If you spot that one corner of your vehicle seems
to be much lower than the others, there’s a chance you might have a damaged or worn spring. This could be accompanied by a clunking sound as you travel over potholes or speed bumps. To check if your suspension may be to blame, try pushing your weight down on the boot of your vehicle and listening out for any sounds. If you hear a squealing or creaking noise, this indicates you should get your suspension looked at. If suspension isn’t to blame, tyre pressure may be. When tyres pressures are unequal, this can also mean your car sags at one corner.
Does your car pass the bounce test?
From time to time, you might want to try the ‘bounce test’ on your vehicle. This simply involves parking on a flat surface and pressing all your weight onto either the front or rear of your car. Then watch how many times it bounces before it stabilises. If it bounces two or three times, or more, it’s likely that a spring has weakened or broken. Pay attention to how ‘bouncy’ your car seems when you’re driving it too. If your vehicle has a tendency to nosedive when you brake, squat backwards when you accelerate or lean to the side when you corner, there could be an issue with the struts or shock absorbers.
If you have any concerns, get your car checked out.
If your car is showing any of these signs of possible suspension problems, it’s important to get it checked out - and the sooner the better. Driving with a faulty suspension can make it harder to control your car and therefore increase your risk of accidents. Another point to bear in mind is that if you continue to use your vehicle, you risk making any damage to suspension components worse, meaning that you could be left with a bigger repair bill. When it comes to this important safety system, it’s not worth taking chances. If you arrange a free suspension check, a specialist will take a detailed look at your car and identify any problems with the relevant components. At MKD Automotive, we offer these checks for free, and our technicians provide a full report outlining any issues we discover.
Keeping your suspension system in the best possible condition will help ensure you benefit from maximum stability, comfort and control when you’re in the driving seat.