Getting to Know Your Suspension

There’s no doubt that a vehicle’s suspension gets a good workout in the spring. During the spring thaw, road surfaces become more precarious and tons of potholes appear. The first victims are your car’s tires and wheels, which undergo frequent shocks. In the case of oversized wheels (17 in. or more), tires with reduced sidewalls have little chance and can blow out or deflate with even a small impact.

Suspension components are constantly subjected to pressure because of the vehicle’s weight, imperfect road conditions, changing directions, and so on. The wheels, suspension, steering, and brakes, which are unsuspended weight, act as a buffer between the road and the passenger compartment, making the drive more comfortable and smooth.

The main types of suspension systems are the MacPherson struts, A-arm, solid axle, and multi-link. They all use hard rubber bushings that can cause malfunctions in the front or rear axle system when they wear out. Leaf-spring suspension is still widely used for full-size SUVs and pick-up trucks. All these systems often have anti-roll bars that strengthen the suspension and limit chassis movement. Lastly, a small percentage of vehicles are equipped with air suspension systems with air bag shock absorbers.

Although it’s recommended to change the shock absorbers at 80,000 to 100,000 km, few drivers do. During a regular maintenance check, a certified NAPA AUTOPRO technician will inspect the suspension and note any faults, such as a leaky shock absorber, a collapsed spring or blade, excessive wear or a broken rubber bushing, etc. If defective parts are not replaced, they can cause noise or vibrations, less precise driving (especially when turning), and premature wear and tear on the tires.

It’s important to get your suspension inspected during your next visit to a NAPA AUTOPRO shop. If your vehicle’s handling changed over the winter, you should make an appointment right away.