The suspension that keeps your vehicle running smooth over bumps, negotiate turns and travel safely from point "A" to point "B" is comprised of multiple components that work in conjunction to accomplish these tasks. One of the most important and durable parts is the suspension springs or commonly referred to as suspension coil springs. The coil spring itself is manufactured with high-grade steel and is designed to act as a buffer between the shocks and struts, the vehicle frame, and lower suspension components. However, although the suspension springs are incredibly durable, sometimes mechanical failures occur.
When a suspension spring is wearing out or has broken, it requires that both sides of the same axle needs to be replaced. This is not an easy to complete task, as removing suspension springs requires specialized tools, proper training and the right experience to complete the job. It's also highly recommended that after replacing the suspension springs you have a front end suspension alignment completed by a certified ASE mechanic or specialized automotive shop.
Listed below are a few of the common symptoms to look for that might indicate that a problem with your suspension springs exists.
1. Vehicle is tilting to one side
One of the duties of the suspension springs is to keep the vehicle balanced on equal sides. When a spring has collapsed or is showing signs of premature wear and tear, one of the common side effects will be that one side of the car will appear to be higher than the other side. When you notice that the left or right side of your vehicle appears higher or lower than the other side, have a local ASE certified mechanic inspect and diagnose the problem as this can affect steering, braking, and acceleration among other problems.
2. Uneven tire wear
Most people don't commonly examine their tires for proper wear on a routine basis. However, during routine oil changes and tire rotations and asking the technician to examine your tires for proper inflation and wear patterns is more than acceptable. If the technician indicates that the tires are wearing more on the inside or outside of the tire, this is commonly caused by a castor or camber suspension alignment issue. One of the common offenders of misaligned front end suspension is a coil spring that is either wearing out or needs to be replaced. You can also notice uneven tire wear while driving when the tire shakes or vibrates at higher speeds. This symptom is common with tire wheel balance as well, but should be inspected by a certified tire center or ASE mechanic.
3. Vehicle bouncing more while driving
The springs also serve the purpose of keeping the vehicle from bouncing, especially when you hit potholes or common bumps in the road. When the suspension spring is beginning to fail, it will become much easier to compress. The result of this is that the vehicle's suspension will have more travel and thus appear to bounce more frequently. If you notice that your car, truck or SUV is bouncing more often when driving over speed bumps, onto a driveway or simply down the road under normal driving conditions, have a local ASE mechanic inspect and replace suspension springs as needed.
4. Vehicle bottoming out
As noted above, when the springs fail or are showing signs of wear and tear, the vehicle suspension has more room to move up and down. One of the common side effects of a compressed suspension spring is that the vehicle will bottom out when driving over dips in the road. This can cause significant damage to undercarriage of the car and other parts on the car including oil pans, drive shaft, transmission and rear end housings.
Anytime your vehicle bottoms out, take it to a local ASE certified mechanic to be inspected, diagnosed and repaired as soon as possible.
Being proactive about keeping your suspension in good shape not only will improve vehicle comfort and driveability, but it will also help to extend tire life, and other critical components on your car, truck or SUV. Take time to recognize these warning signs and take preventative measures to keep the suspension springs on your vehicle in tip-top-shape.