Car Suspension Maintenance

by Cleveland Van Cecil

A car's suspension is a series of shock absorbing parts and springs that keep your car driving straight, and from bouncing too hard when riding over bumps. It also helps out with the braking process. The suspension system of your car is very important, and if overlooked during maintenance, can cause a whole slew of problems.

Maintaining suspension

Your shocks and alignment should be checked regularly by a certified mechanic, trained to do repairs on your particular car model. Suspension systems are based on a lot of formulas, and getting them right is very tricky. If you want to do the maintenance yourself, make sure to look in your owner's manual for specific part measurements. The car should be driven during the maintenance check to see whether or not it sways or bounces when turning or braking. If the car dips forward when braking, there is an issue. If your tires are wearing unevenly, even after a tire rotation, there is likely something wrong with the alignment of the car.

Shock Absorbers

Like most parts on the car, the shock absorbers need to be checked regularly as part of the service schedule of the car. Generally, shocks need to be checked every three years, or 36,000 miles, and every five years or 60,000 miles. These mileages and suggested maintenance times differ between models, and you should check your service manual for your vehicle model. A quick check you can do to see whether your shocks are in good order is to push down on the front of your car several times. If it levels off and goes back to place after one bounce when you relieve it of your body weight, the shocks are fine. When checking a suspension system, the shocks should be checked for leaks, cracks, and general wear and tear.

Suspension Inspection

To inspect your suspension, there are a few simple tests you can perform. Drive your car around with the window down and no radio. Listen to hear whether any sounds are coming from the wheel area when you go over bumps. If you hear a squeaking sound when your car bounces, the shock absorbers may be out of lubrication, or are worn and need to be replaced. If there are loud clunking noises, the suspension itself may need grease. If the car is vibrating, check whether or not the tires need air. If your tires are constantly flat, this can ruin a good suspension system. Once the tires are pumped, check for the vibrating again. If it is still there, the alignment of the suspension system may need to be adjusted.

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