The Hidden, Not So Obvious Damage of Suspension Failure
A suspension system is the sum of all its parts: shocks, springs, wheels, tires, joints and steering system – all meant to suspend a vehicle above the road and assist in its drivability.
So why is it critical to understand suspension damage before driving off after a collision? Impact, even seemingly minor fender-benders, can cause a vehicle to sustain front or rear suspension damage. The consequences may produce diminished vehicle height, swaying and hard to control steering and braking. Here are some issues to be aware of:
- If you have a rough ride and the bumps in the road make you bounce more, there’s a high probability of shock absorbers or struts (a spring and shock absorber unit) having issues. Shock absorbers play a critical role controlling spring and suspension movement of the auto body. Damage to a shock absorber can cause difficulty in controlling unwanted movement, especially at high speeds, turning and stopping.
- Suspension or torsion springs compress and release to absorb energy which is necessary to maintain a connection between an auto’s tires and the road. If a spring is collapsed, the vehicle will bottom out in dips and can cause damage to the drive shaft, transmission, rear-end housings and undercarriage. A broken spring is dangerous as you may lose control of a vehicle’s handling, steering and brakes.
- Spring damage may make a corner of your vehicle appear to dip when on level ground. If a shock is blown this may cause the spring to over-compress and lower the height of the vehicle, which compromises the ability to give a quality ride – free from bounce and sway. This failure disrupts the capability to maintain a level vehicle height and keep it properly off the ground.
- Damage to the shocks and struts may cause your car to lean forward in a nose dive when braking. Other effects of suspension damage are rolling to the sides when turning (leans side-to side or sways) and leaning backwards or squatting when accelerating.
- A wheel may crack and yet you still can drive on it. However, if the crack totally breaks, this can lead to complete loss of control and failure that may cause a crash.
- Poor alignment, uneven tire wear, inadequate tire pressure, bad tire rods and/or a failing steering rack may cause a vehicle to pull to either side. Drifting to either side amplifies steering pull.
- If any part of the steering linkage, such as a tie rod end or ball joint fails, the vehicle cannot be relied on to turn properly.
- If you find your vehicle difficult to steer when holding the wheel in a turned position or it feels like it is slipping, there may be issues with your power steering components:
- Low power steering fluid
- Broken or lose power steering belt
- Damaged power steering pump
- Leaking power steering rack
- Damaged control arm bushings
More Bounce, Less Control
Nose Dives, Rolls and Squats
Pulls to One Side/Drifting
Broken Steering Linkage
Difficult to Steer
A vehicle with damage to its suspension system is one that is unsafe to drive and requires repair to ensure a quality ride with control.