Car Maintenance 101: Diagnosing Your Suspension Problems (Part II)

Note to the Reader 3: This is obviously just the continuation to my previous post. Just a little reminder, working on your suspension, particularly if we’re talking a major overhaul, is best left to the professionals. But one thing you can do is to purchase your own replacement parts from a reputable parts provider. This way, all you have to do is pay for the installation/repair fees from your local garage. Also, I’ll have to apologize for not updating my blog as frequently as I used to. I’m currently in the middle of a project, but don’t worry, I’ll have more updates once this project is done.

So now on to the real show…

If You Experience Dips or Diving, or Even Excessive Bouncing Each Time You Pass a Hump…

A slight dip each time you pass a hump is usually normal. But if your ride is in danger of bottoming up or really taking a short dive to touch the road, then you may have suspension problems. When driving, it’s always recommended that you slow down or depress on your brake pedal each time you go near a hump. Running over humps is ill-advised because it really does destroy your suspension. But if you’re cautious when it comes to road humps and you still encounter diving, dipping, or excessive bouncing, then your vehicle could have:

  • Damaged leaf springs. Leaf springs are what causes the up and down motion of your ride. They’re there to prevent damage on your car’s components each time you go through road irregularities. But the moment your car becomes harder to handle due to bouncing, then that’s the time you need to inspect your leaf springs. Repair these components or replace them completely if you need to.
  • Worn or broken strut assemblies or shock absorbers. Shock absorbers and even struts are there to dampen the movement of your leaf springs. Without them, you’re bound to experience vehicle swaying and bouncing. So the moment you encounter these problems, do check the state of your struts and shocks and repair or replace them if necessary.

If You’re Experiencing Difficulties Keeping Your Car Moving Straight Because It Skids to the Right or Left…

One neat trick that I often do, but only when there are no other cars around and when the road is straight, is I let go of the steering wheel just for a moment (a second or two tops). This allows me to determine if one of my tires is in need of inflating. When keeping your car straight is a constant struggle, then it’s a sign that:

  • At Least One of Your Tires Is In Need of Inflating. Pull over at the nearest gas station when you encounter this and check for soft tires. When for example, your left tires are softer than they should be, your car automatically veers left.
  • You Have a Problem With Your Steering System. Maybe your steering rack or tie rods are misaligned or loose. The point is, you’ll need to have these components checked immediately to avoid having more difficulties handling your ride.
  • A Stuck Brake Caliper. Is your braking system heating up faster and hotter than it should? Then you might have a suspension problem that’s directly caused by braking issues. Check your braking system for signs of a sticking brake caliper.
  • Problems With Your Wheel Alignment. Check to see if your wheels are aligned. If they’re not, head on to the local garage for instant wheel realignment.
  • Uneven and Excessive Tire Wear. This is usually a sign of misaligned wheels. Check your wheel’s alignment as you determine which tires are in need of replacing. If you must, replace your worn tires and align those wheels as soon as possible.

3 Responses to Car Maintenance 101: Diagnosing Your Suspension Problems (Part II)

  1. Kevin says:

    I think it’s worth pointing out that not all vehicles have leaf springs. Leaf springs are used mainly on pickups and SUVs, and then only on the rear. Sedans, coupes, and the front end of trucks are supported instead by coil springs, frequently incorporating a shock absorber in a configuration known as a “coil-over spring”.

  2. autofrankie says:

    Yep, that’s right Kevin. Some vehicles use coil springs while others use leaf springs. It all depends on the type of suspension system you have. :)

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