Now that spring is on its way, most people think of preparing their vehicles for summer. Swapping out their winter tires, taking out the winter floor mats, waxing and polishing the body, but what about your suspension?
Winter can be especially hard on your vehicle’s suspension: potholes can affect alignment, the cold can crack bushings, and rubber mounts can become cracked and worn. Your car’s suspension is instrumental in determining your vehicle’s ride, handling, and even stopping distance. So with Spring just on the horizon, here are six things to watch for when it comes to your suspension.
Your car, truck, or SUV’s wheel alignment determines if your vehicle tracks straight and true, as well as playing a major factor in your tire’s lifespan. During winter, potholes (or an accidental trip through a snowbank) can pull your suspension out of alignment. Seeing as you’ll be bringing in your vehicle anyways to swap out your winter tires, it’s the perfect time to have your alignment checked as well.
Bumping through the heavy snow and over ruts can take a heavy toll on your shock absorbers. True to their name, these fluid-filled dampers are designed to take the lumps and bumps of the road so you don’t. Once your vehicle’s shock absorbers start to fail, not only is your ride quality going to suffer, but your handling as well – as shock absorbers are also designed to maintain your tire’s grip on the road.
Typically when people think of a vehicle’s suspension, they think of the springs. Springs are one of the most vital components of your suspension, as they support your vehicle’s weight. If a spring begins to go, it’s usually very obvious as one side of the car will begin to sag. Not only will this ruin your vehicle’s ride and handling, but it will also cause your other suspension components to wear much more quickly.
In order to give your car, truck, or SUV its pliable ride, they use rubber bushing in the suspension to absorb the jolts. Unfortunately, the cold and wet of winter has a tendency to perish these rubber bushing, compromising your ride and negatively affecting the handling. Deteriorated bushing also cause other suspension components to wear faster, as the rubber is designed to keep the metal components from rubbing together.
Tie Rod Ends
Whereas parts like springs and shock absorbers control your vehicle’s vertical motion, tire rods control the horizontal motion. However, the ends of your tie rods take a beating as your car bangs over potholes and ruts. If you hear a clunking noise when turning, chances are your tie rod ends are worn and are in need of replacement.
Ball joints are crucial in keeping your vehicle’s tire in constant contact with the road during turns. Once they begin to fail you will notice your vehicle’s cornering becoming sloppy and imprecise, as well as creaking and groaning when turning. Replacing these will return your car, truck, or SUV’s ride and handling back to its former glory.
Winter can really take its toll on your car’s suspension. Given that it’s one of the most important parts of your vehicle, it’s imperative that you keep it in the best condition possible. Old, worn-out suspension not only compromises your handling, but can even increase your stopping distances by up to 20%! So this spring when it comes time to swap out your times, remember to have your suspension checked as well!