How To Check your Suspension Bushes

The problem with suspension bushes is they deteriorate gradually, which means any issues will not be immediately obvious.

If you are a DIY mechanic, you'll be able to deal with these straightforward checks.
Suspension bushes are found at every join of your car's suspension system. They buffer friction between two otherwise fixed parts, silence some road noise, offer better suspension over uneven roads and, of course, make sure your car remains stable during steering, acceleration and braking. 

Conventional suspension bushes include shock absorber bushes and mounts, control arm bushes, wishbone bushes and anti-roll bar bushes. They're crucial for the safety and effective operation of your car. Your mechanic will automatically check your suspension bushes during your MOT. You need to know what you're looking for because problem symptoms only become apparent when it's severe. For our purposes, however, we'll let you know what to look for and how to check suspension bushes.

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Because suspension bushes are exposed on the undercarriage of your car, they have a number of factors to contend with. Changes in temperature harden and crack them, while exposure to petroleum erodes them to a jelly-like consistency. This deterioration worsens if the bushes are found in a badly ventilated area of the engine. One clue suspension bushes are in need of replacing is that your tyres have uneven wear. Another obvious clue is impaired handling and increased noise from your car. 

A thorough test drive (no, not a drive through an empty car park) will reveal any lurking suspension bush issues. The range of driving a proper test drive demands includes hitting bumps, cornering right and left, cruising on the straight and braking and accelerating on even surfaces. If the engine's strut rod and radius arm bushings pull as you brake or accelerate, there is a problem. And you'll know the rack and pinion mounting bushings are questionable if your steering wheel feels off centre after going through some turns. 

The natural follow-on after a test drive is a dry park test - a process completed on a runner-style lift at your mechanic's shop. For best results, the front wheel won't be resting on the turn plates (unless your vehicle has a longer wheelbase). The dry park test involves one person continually rocking the steering wheel from left to right while another person stands beneath the car, watching for abnormalities in steering and suspension elements. This process offers ideal ways to expose weaknesses: your car's suspension is positioned to have maximum pressure exerted on its parts, and your steering parts are under maximum stress while motionless, enabling your mechanic to observe what's going on beneath your car. Another good idea is giving your exhaust and other areas a once-over with a rubber hammer. If there's an issue, you'll hear a tinny noise in reply. 

While you do need a mechanic, it's always a good idea to be able to navigate your way around your car and know what to look and listen out for, elevating your DIY mechanic skills in the process.

About the author

David Sholicar

David is the National Retail Operations Manager for Protyre. One of David’s areas of responsibility and ...

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