Suspension

How do you know when it’s time for suspension repair? Your vehicle will usually tell you. Here are six things to watch for.

1. Car rides roughly

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 bumpy ride is an obvious sign that your vehicle’s suspension needs work as you feel the hard hit on the road as your car goes through any pot holes or bumpy ride.

2. Drifting or pulling during turns

With a failing suspension system, you’ll often feel the vehicle “drift” or “pull” when you’re turning. This basically means the shocks are no longer keeping the vehicle body stable against the centrifugal force of a turn, increasing your risk of a rollover.

3. Dips or “nose dives” when stopping

When the shocks are worn out, you’re likely to feel the vehicle body lurching forward and downward nose-first when you apply the brakes firmly. This can actually affect your ability to stop the car quickly (a bad suspension can increase stop time by up to 20 percent).

4. Uneven tire treads

Take a look at your tires. If you notice the tread is wearing down unevenly on your tires, or if you notice balding spots, this is often a symptom that the suspension isn’t holding the car evenly, and therefore putting uneven amounts of pressure on the tires.

5. Damaged, “oily” shocks

If you can look under the vehicle, take a look directly at the shocks or struts. If they look greasy or oily, there’s a good chance that they are leaking fluid and therefore aren’t working properly. It’s probably time to get those shocks replaced.

6. Try the “bounce test”

If you suspect your suspension is going bad (perhaps due to one or more of the symptoms we mentioned above), try this simple test. With the car in “park,” press down on the front of the vehicle with all your weight, “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.