How To Diagnose Common Suspension Problems?


The suspension system of your car plays several different roles. Firstly, it ensures you have complete control of your vehicle on the road. Besides, it maximizes your comfort even on bumpy roads by minimizing noise and vibrations.

Common suspension problems include the car pulling to one side, a corner of the vehicle sagging, a bumpy ride with lots of bouncing, and steering difficulties. All suspension problems have the potential to put your car at risk on the road while affecting comfort for you and your passengers. So, troubleshoot any issues quickly and get them fixed as soon as possible.

This guide will walk you through some of the most common suspension problems. Then, you’ll learn how to diagnose them by understanding their symptoms, causes, and solutions.

Let’s get started.

How Do You Diagnose Common Suspension Problems?

The first thing you need to understand about your car’s suspension system is that it includes many more parts than just the shock absorbers. For instance, your tires, arms, bars, and bushings are also considered part of the same system.

It’s crucial that you understand that, as it’ll help you diagnose common suspension problems much more effectively.

Here are some of the symptoms that you’ll experience when common suspension problems occur:

Car Pulls To One Side

The problem: The first common suspension problem you might experience is when the car pulls to one side. Suppose you accelerate your vehicle under normal conditions. When that happens, the car will mostly move in a straight line, requiring little input from you through the steering wheel.

However, a problematic suspension system will cause the car to pull or drift to one side, either to the left or right.

The cause: When your car pulls to one side without any steering wheel input, that means there’s a problem with the tires or shock absorbers.

Your tires are likely misaligned, causing the car to be biased to one side more than the other. Alternatively, the shock absorbers could be damaged or worn out from extensive use.

A car that pulls to one side could be experiencing or both of those root causes simultaneously.

The solution: Suppose your tires are the root cause of this problem. In that case, the solution is pretty straightforward. You’ll have to align and balance those tires to ensure a smooth ride.

However, damaged or worn-out shock absorbers must be replaced with new ones. You shouldn’t delay getting those replacements, as worn-out shocks can lead to other car problems in the long run.

Read: Why Is A Pre-Purchase Vehicle Inspection Necessary?

One Corner Of The Car Sags

The problem: Another common suspension problem that cars face is sagging in one of its corners. In other words, one corner of your car is lower than the others, causing the vehicle to be imbalanced overall.

The cause: One of the more straightforward causes of this problem is a flat tire. That’s quite easy to notice, as you can visually see your flat tire or feel it rolling weirdly when driving.

But if your tires are in excellent condition, the problem’s cause is a worn-out or damaged spring. The spring plays many important roles in the suspension system, including keeping all sides of the car perfectly even.

The solution: Firstly, repair your tires if they are flat. That’s the easiest and quickest fix to do. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with springs.

If one of your car’s springs is so damaged that your vehicle sags, you’ll have to replace it with a new one. That’s the only safe solution, as welding or otherwise repairing a damaged spring will put your car at risk.

Read: Faulty Tire Pressure Sensor (Signs & Causes & Fixes)

Bumpy Car Rides With Lots Of Bouncing

The problem: One of the main purposes of your car’s suspension system is to absorb vibrations from the ground and provide you with a smooth or comfortable ride. 

So, if you start experiencing bumpy and uncomfortable car rides with plenty of bouncing, that means there’s a problem with the system.

Remember: excess bouncing, bumps, and vibrations are not just uncomfortable for you and your passengers. It’s also bad for your car and its components, as the vibrations can lead to other long-term damage.

The cause: The strut or shock absorber is designed to do just that: absorb shocks. In doing so, they reduce bumpiness, prevent bumping, and provide you with an all-around comfortable ride, even at high speeds.

The solution: Struts and shock absorbers are other examples of parts that can’t be repaired once they go bad. The only safe solution is to replace them with new ones.

Given how critical the struts or shocks are to your car’s overall safety, you wouldn’t want to take the risk of fixing it, anyway. So, a new replacement is a worthwhile investment.

On top of that, you’ll want to replace both shock absorbers at the same time, even if only one has failed.

You can think of it as preventative maintenance. If one shock absorber has failed, it’s very likely the other one will also fail soon after. So, buy the replacements together and install them at the same time.

Read: Symptoms & Causes of a Bad Wheel Alignment

Difficult Steering

The problem: The last example of a common suspension problem is problems steering, especially at low speeds. As you can imagine, this is a severely dangerous problem. While it doesn’t affect the comfort of your ride, it undermines your ability to control your vehicle.

That can be very dangerous if you try to avoid dangers on the road at very short notice.

The cause: Steering difficulties are caused by worn-out control arm bushings. Aside from smooth steering, these suspension system parts also help control noise and minimize vibrations. On top of that, they also soften any bumps that you might experience while driving.

As you can see, the control arm bushings are crucial to your suspension system for several different reasons.

The solution: Worn-out control arm bushings must be replaced, but that can be very challenging to do. Firstly, replacing the bushings alone (and not the whole control arm) might require specialized tools for some vehicle makes and models.

Worse yet, some bushings are designed in such a way that you can’t replace them at all.

In many cases, the most practical solution is to replace the affected control arm entirely.

Unfortunately, as you might already know, suspension system parts often come in pairs. So, as with the struts and shock absorbers described earlier, it’s best for you to replace both control arms at the same time.

If the bushings on one control arm have become worn-out and are causing you problems, the likelihood that the other one will also fail is very high.

So, if you must replace one of them, you should replace both together. The upfront cost is pretty high, but the benefits will outweigh the cost in the long run.

Read: Bad Shocks and Struts (Symptoms & Causes)

Final Thoughts

The suspension system in your car consists of many different components, large and small. Each of them plays a critical role in ensuring that your car rides are safe and comfortable, no matter the speed you’re driving.

So, if you experience any of the problems mentioned above, you must get them checked and fixed as quickly as possible. 

None of the problems listed above is worth delaying. However, fixing them quickly will keep you out of harm’s way and ensure that you have complete control of your vehicle at all times.

Read: 3 Reasons Why Steering Wheel Can be Loose – What To Check?

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