What are the common suspension problems?

By Julia Freeman

Your suspension protects you, the chassis and engine from everything the road can throw at you. It is like a suit of armour and has to be built like one. Yet it facilitates steering the car and rotating the wheels, which is a tall order. Although its many linkages, bosses, springs, bearings, hydraulic dampers, struts, control arms and roll bars are robust, they move continuously in all directions while being pummelled by potholes, debris and kerb collisions. It is a triumph of engineering that they rarely break, but even so, they are constantly being worn down.

man looking at engine

All cars encounter suspension problems sooner or later, it is an inevitable consequence of driving. However, you can minimise the long-term costs and maximise your comfort and car performance, by professional maintenance. Regular inspections by Protyre’s fully qualified fitters will alert you to impending issues before they become actual problems. As a result, you should never have to encounter any of these common symptoms:

A rough, bumpy ride

Several challenges can hinder your driving comfort, but most are easy to rule out. The first is the road surface. Many roads are criss-crossed with channels excavated by utility companies and then poorly repaired. Similarly, potholes are repaired in autumn only to reappear during the winter. You can also expect a rougher ride if you have recently fitted run flats, XL tyres or increased your rim diameters. With these factors ruled out, a rough ride will usually be due to worn suspension components, fluid leaks from the shock absorbers, or incorrect wheel alignment.

Squeaks, Creaks, Clangs and Clunks

Irregular noises are often related to suspension problems. They are usually associated with cornering, accelerating or braking, or happen when you hit a pothole or navigate a speed bump. Regular knocking that seems related to the rotation of the wheels can also arise. Any of the suspension components may be at fault but in general it means something has loosened.

The longer it remains loose, the more wear it will cause, therefore ignoring these noises will cost more in the end. A creaking noise when you turn the wheel could be down to a ball joint problem. Knocking as you corner at speed is usually a worn sway-bar end-link.

Poor Steering and Control

All steering issues are serious, never delay having them inspected. The sooner they are resolved, the less they are likely to cost. Common steering symptoms include pulling to one side or finding that driving straight ahead requires the wheel to be off-centre. Play in the wheel, meaning that it turns freely before it seems to engage, is not only detrimental to your control of the car but could be a warning of worse to come.

A stiffer feel in the steering column can also be related to suspension problems but so can a lighter feel, resulting in twitchy over-sensitivity. Pivot spindle issues may be to blame here. A wheel alignment check could be a good place to start. For example, “toe-out” misalignment can make the steering feel light. If you have to turn the wheel further to corner, you should have your tie-rods checked.

Bounce and Balance

Park somewhere level and look at all four corners of the empty vehicle. They should all be at exactly the same height. If it looks slightly askew, or one corner is sitting low, it is definitely time to book a slot with your local Protyre garage. Protyre provide initial visual checks free of charge, so if it there are no issues, you have nothing to lose. If there is a problem, we provide some of the best suspension repair cost in the UK along with superior workmanship and customer service.

Most drivers are familiar with the “bounce” test. Push down firmly on each corner of the car and see if it comes back up and stabilises immediately. If it bounces, this indicates you have a problem with shock absorbers or struts, whichever component your vehicle uses. Also notice what happens when you brake, the front of your car should not dip downward as it stops. If this is accompanied by a ‘clunk’ it means that your control arm and sub frame bushings need to be checked.

Tyre Tread Wear

Accelerated tread wear, especially if it is uneven across the tyre, requires an investigation. Don’t wait until your tyres are illegal, the sooner you fix a suspension issue the longer your tyres will last. When the wear is greater on one side, inner or outer, it may just be that your wheel alignment needs adjusting. This is an affordable procedure that may prolong the life of four good tyres.

Manufacturers such as Bridgestone recommend regular wheel alignment checks. Book an alignment check with your nearest Protyre garage using our garage finder app. While you are there, ask our tyre professionals about our extensive range of premium and value tyres from Pirelli, Bridgestone, Michelin and Continental.

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About the author

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By Julia Freeman
Julia is Head of Retail Marketing for Protyre and loves engaging with customers and the business as a whole to make sure Protyre is more than just a local garage.
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