Most cars use a shock/strut suspension system with coiled springs to provide comfort and improve handling on the road. It’s reliable, lasts a relatively long time, and performs pretty well. It also doesn’t have some of the problems found with air spring systems (failing pumps, leaking air bags, etc.). However, that doesn’t mean this type of system is free from trouble.
Your shocks and struts will definitely wear out and need to be replaced over time. The springs themselves should last the life of your vehicle, but the spring insulators will not. These are small, rubber pieces that are mounted at the top and bottom of the coil springs. Their job is simple – they help to insulate the car against vibrations, jostling and more. Spring insulators are not the most obvious element in your suspension, but their role is pretty important.
Because your spring insulators are made from rubber, they’re going to deteriorate. They won’t need to be replaced as often as your shocks and struts, though. Most vehicle owners may have to replace them just once during their ownership.
The spring insulators on your car are in use any time your wheels are rolling, just like the rest of the suspension. That means wear and tear is a factor here, but it’s not the primary reason for insulator failure or degradation. You can chalk that one up to what happens to rubber when exposed to the air and temperature fluctuations over time. Eventually, it dries out and becomes brittle. When that happens, it loses its ability to insulate, and will eventually start to fall apart.
Driving with a worn out insulator isn’t particularly dangerous, but it does create additional wear on other suspension parts, and it will adversely affect your comfort as well. Knowing a few signs of insulator wear to watch for can be handy. They include:
- Noise transferred from the road into the cabin
- A grinding noise when turning
- Reduced ride quality
- Squeaking from the spring while driving
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, then have a professional mechanic help. A certified mechanic can inspect your entire suspension system, and replace the spring insulators, as well as worn out shocks, struts and other components to ensure a quiet, comfortable ride.