Illinois potholes can do serious damage to your vehicle's suspension. If you have questions about suspension repair, replacement, or upgrades, just send us a message or stop by the shop.
Can I drive with a bad suspension? Well, yes, but it is like jogging with a bad knee. Let me explain:
Your vehicle's steering and suspension system work together to keep your car on the road and you in control. If you suspect any of the components of your car's suspension system need repair or replacement, you should have it looked at by a local mechanic that specializes in suspension repair. (Like us)
Neglecting to fix the problems could reduce your ability to control your vehicle.
Here are just a few symptoms that you should be aware of:
1. Car ride has become rough or bouncy.
Most people can tell their shocks or struts are wearing out when they begin to feel every bump in the road or when every bump causes the vehicle body to "bounce." A rough ride is an obvious sign that your vehicle's suspension needs attention.
2. Drifting or pulling during turns.
With a failing suspension, you will often feel the vehicle "drift" or "pull" when you're turning. This means the shocks are no longer keeping the vehicle body stable, increasing your risk of a rollover. If you feel this sensation while turning, it's time to take the car to a trusted auto repair shop for servicing.
3. Dips or "nose dives" when stopping.
When the shocks are worn out, you are likely to feel the vehicle's body lurching forward and downward nose when you apply the brakes. This can affect your ability to stop the car quickly and a bad suspension can increase stop time by up to 20 percent.
4. Uneven tire treads.
Look at your tires. If you notice the tread is wearing unevenly on your tires or if there are bald spots, this is often a symptom that the suspension is not holding the car even, putting uneven amounts of pressure on the tires.
5. Damaged, "oily" shocks.
If you look under your vehicle, look directly at the shocks or struts. If they are greasy or oily, there is a good chance that they are leaking fluid and are not working properly. It is probably time to get those shocks replaced.
6. Try the "bounce test".
If you suspect your suspension is going bad, try this simple test: With the car in "park," press down on the front of the vehicle with all your weight and bounce it a few times, then release. Do it again on the rear of the vehicle. If the car continues to rock or bounce more than 2-3 times after you release it, the suspension is wearing out.
We will start with an easy tip that might solve your problem. Some signs of steering and suspension problems are brake and tire problems in disguise. So, at the first sign of trouble, check your tire pressure and tread wear.
Your suspension is designed to function with your tires. If optimal tire pressure does not fix the problem and you still have these symptoms, here are some things to keep in mind.
If your vehicle bounces, sways, squeaks or makes you fight to turn the wheel, you need to request a diagnostic appointment with a professional. Gearheads Garage will conduct a FREE, thorough inspection of your steering, suspension, and all components involved that might be causing your problem.
We will explain your vehicle's condition and inform you which services are urgent, and which can wait. We will work with you and provide a written estimate for your approval before any repairs are completed. We want you to understand where your money is spent and why.
Most drivers wonder why their ride gets rough. It could be the bounce or the squeak, but other factors can cause problems.
The suspension, the power steering, and the power steering pump all work together. Let's take a look at them:
Wheel alignment is crucial. You need to maintain a good tire routine including annual inspections and alignment. If your tires develop a specific, uneven wear pattern, that is a problem. Make sure to check the back tires, as well as the front.
One corner of your vehicle sits lower than the others. This could be caused by a possible broken spring.
Your vehicle fails the "Bounce Test." Jump on the front bumper, then jump off. If it bounces more than twice this could be caused by worn or broken shocks or struts.
You see oil grease or wear on your shocks or struts.
Squeaking when turning or braking.
Your vehicle leans forward, backward, or to either side. (See #4)
Your vehicle pulls or drifts, especially around curves. This could be worn shock absorbers or struts.
A horrible whining or whirring noise when you turn the wheel could be a loose belt a bad steering pump or if you are lucky, low fluid.
If it is low on fluid, you need to find out why. If you have a power steering fluid leak, you should get that fixed before it causes serious and expensive damage.
Fighting the steering wheel. Again, this could be caused by a bad pump or low power steering fluid.
Vibrating steering wheel. It could be a loose belt or pulley or warped brake rotors.
Fluid-low or dirty. Your fluid can have air, metal flakes, or oxidation in the lines. This could be a sign that there is a hole in your system.
Power Steering Problems:
Your power steering pump is what circulates power steering fluid throughout the system and makes it easier to steer. Without it, it is very difficult to turn your steering wheel. It should be checked with every oil change.
Contaminated fluid. This can be caused by a hole in your system that allows outside contaminants to get in. You should have it inspected with every oil change.
Low fluid pressure. This could be caused by a leak in one of the lines.
Loose or broken drive belt. Older cars use to have a belt for each component, like an alternator belt, power steering belt, and A/C belt. Newer cars typically have one belt called a serpentine belt.
A broken serpentine drive belt will disable many systems that operate your vehicle.
Now that you know the symptoms, let's answer some questions:
How do you troubleshoot suspension?
The bounce test. Simply push down hard on the vehicle's suspension, let go and allow for it to rise back up on its own. If the car bounces back up and stops, it is a good indication the shock or strut is still good. If the car continues to bounce up and down, then it is a good indication of a blown-out strut. You should have it inspected by a mechanic.
Can suspension damage be fixed?
Yes. You should have it repaired as soon as possible. A strut works by absorbing the bounce of your car driving over bumps in the road. Struts on the front end of your vehicle are also crucial for steering and alignment. When they go bad, it can cause a loss of control of the vehicle.
Is it dangerous to drive with bad suspension?
Bad or worn shocks, struts, springs, tie rods, or ball joints can cause costly damage to your vehicle and make it unsafe to drive. Unfortunately, the suspension is often taken for granted – but it supports the entire weight of your vehicle and should be maintained for your safety.
What does a broken suspension sound like?
A knocking or thud sound when going over bumps can indicate there is a problem with the suspension struts. There might be a clanking sound of metal hitting metal when you go over bumps. This could be caused by worn or dry-rotted rubber bushings.
How long can you drive on bad shocks?
How long can you expect your shocks or struts to last? That depends on where you live and your driving style. Illinois roads and potholes are hard on your shocks and struts. We recommend you have them inspected every 40,000 miles.
How long does it take to repair a suspension?
As we discussed in the original piece, suspension repair can vary drastically in time as much as it can in cost, because of how complex a system it is. Replacing a single set of shocks, for example, takes between 2-3 hours, as does either side's control arms.
What happens if you do not replace struts?
There are two negatives to riding on worn-out struts or automotive shocks: Safety: Worn struts result in longer stopping times and/or distances as the vehicle weight can shift (sometimes unexpectedly) during braking. This also negatively affects your ability to stay in control of your vehicle.
Can I replace just one shock or strut?
Shocks and struts should always be replaced in pairs or, better yet, all four, for even, predictable handling and control. After all, all four have been on the vehicle for the same number of miles and worked under the same condition.
So, why come to Gearheads Garage in Bloomington for your suspension repairs? Here is what we will do for you.
Our experts have a checklist of items we will evaluate when determining if your car needs to have a suspension replacement or suspension repair.
We check for uneven tires or wear on the treads. We check for unbalanced tires to determine if the frame is lopsided. We check all the nuts and bolts for the required torque and tightness.
We will check the level of the fluid that is necessary for steering. We can then check for any damaged power steering belts. We will check for any wheel alignment issues. Lastly, we will check the shocks and struts to see how they are holding up. Upon completion of our inspection, we will provide you a written inspection report with an estimate based on what is urgent to fix and what can wait.
If you suspect your vehicle might have a suspension problem, contact us for a free inspection from the ASE certified mechanics and suspension experts at Gearheads Garage
We love our customers, so feel free to visit during normal business hours.
1805 Morrissey Drive, Bloomington, Illinois 61704, United States
07:30 am – 05:30 pm