Q: What Can Cause a Vehicle's Suspension To Collapse

asked by on November 17, 2015

What can cause a vehicle's suspension to collapse?

The suspension on your vehicle is comprised of many different components. Any of these components can fail at any time, but most suspension parts will fail slowly over time. If you have a sudden change in the way that your vehicle rides or how it sits, it is usually because something broke or failed completely. If your suspension has collapsed, then that can be caused by a few different things depending on what type of suspension you have.

If you vehicle is equipped with coil springs or leaf springs then you will have a broken spring if your suspension has collapsed. Coil springs are the most common type of spring on today’s vehicles. In order for the suspension to collapse on this type of vehicle, a spring would have broken and failed.

The most common type of suspension system that has a sudden drop in ride height are vehicles equipped with air suspension. Vehicles with air suspension are equipped with air springs. These air springs are put in the place on the coil or leaf springs.

Air springs provide two major benefits. They give the vehicle a better ride and they allow for a ride height adjustment. Vehicles with air suspension have a softer ride because you are essentially riding on air. The biggest benefit is the adjustable ride height. Vehicles with air suspension will have an air compressor that fills the air springs when needed to change the height.

If the vehicle needs to be lowered, it will have solenoid valves that open to release some air. Some vehicles will use this only on the rear allowing the vehicle to lift up when large amounts of weight are put in the rear of the vehicle. When that weight is taken out, the system will then let some air out. When a vehicle is equipped with air bags on all four corners of the vehicle, the ride height can be adjusted completely and not just in the rear. Some vehicles that are equipped with this system can lower so that people can easily get in and out of the car. Some vehicles will lower at higher speeds and some SUV’s can lift up higher when needed if they are driving off road.

If your vehicle is equipped with air suspension, the most common cause of the suspension collapsing is a bad air spring. When an air spring fails, it allows all of the air to leak that spring and will cause that corner of the vehicle to drop. It can also cause a loss of air in the system causing the entire vehicle to drop to the ground. Air springs are made of rubber, so over time, that rubber will rot out and eventually it will fail. Most of the time they will develop a small hole which allows the air to slowly bleed out. In other cases, the spring can pop completely and the vehicle will collapse instantly.

Other parts that can fail are the air lines, the air solenoids and the compressor itself. The vehicle will also be equipped with ride height sensors that can fail and send the wrong signal to the computer. If the computer detects that the vehicle it too high, then it will lower the vehicle until it reaches the desired height. If your suspension has collapsed, then it will need to be put on a hoist so that the suspension could be inspected for leaks. The easiest way is to fill the system with air and listen for leaks or use a solution of soap and water and spray it on the system components and look for bubbles indicating a leak. Once the system is repaired it can be pressurized.

Coming out to your car in the morning only to find it sitting much lower than it should be can be disappointing. It can be even more discouraging if the suspension does not pump up when the vehicle is started up. The biggest stress that comes from that experience is the cost. Repairing an air suspension system can be extremely expensive and not everyone can work on these systems. It is important to consult a certified mechanic, like one from YourMechanic, that knows these systems and can inspect your suspension and repair it for you. It is also important to keep in mind that many manufacturers have a specified towing procedures when the suspension collapses. Failure to follow these procedures can cause more damage, making the repair even more expensive.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

What others are asking

Radiator hose rubbing pulley after minor accident

Thanks for inquiring about your vehicle. A collision specialist needs to examine the vehicle and YourMechanic does have specialists who could perform a mobile examination and arrange repairs. To save you some money initially you might attempt to contact a...

Suspension stiff

Generally suspension components will not get stiffer unless there is something in the suspension system that is seized or damaged. A full inspection of the suspension system should be carried out. Loose steering on the other hand generally happens when...

My car shakes when I accelerate above 30 mph.

There are many things that can potentially cause your vehicle to shake at that speed. Some of the potential causes of this issue would include but are not limited to tires with cupping wear due to bad shocks, tires are...

Something broke underneath my car.

Hello, without hearing the noise its hard to make a recommendation. If you hear a rattle sound it could be a loose bracket or loose bolt. If you are experiencing a clunking sound, you might have something loose in the...

Hose leaking coolant

Hi there. If there is an obvious leak that you can see then that needs to be repaired first. If it is from a hose then that hose may simply need to be replaced. Once it is replaced the system...

Recently I had new tires put on my car and I was told my bushings need to be replaced on the front left tire

I would recommend getting a second opinion on any work you suspect will be needed on your vehicle. A qualified mobile technician, such as one from YourMechanic, can run a thorough diagnostic on your suspension system at your home or...

Hello. I think I need a radiator hose replacement. My 2006 Sebring was leaking coolant, then I heard a pop(not loud one but notic

A broken hose is plausible. Certainly, there is a large coolant leak. Regardless of whether the leak is due to a broken hose, or another cooling system component has failed, if you request radiator hose replacement - suspected leak ,...

Where is my coolant going? My car keeps overheating and blowing cold air. The temperature rises when stopped and drops when accelerating.

Look everywhere around the engine and see if there is a split hose or loose hose clamp. If the hoses and clamps are in good shape and tight, then check the core plugs (freeze plugs) and see if there is...

Why Do Hoses Collapse?

Hoses undergo a variety of system changes during normal engine operation. When the engine is completely warmed up, pressure inside the cooling increases to around 18 - 20 psi. This causes the hoses to expand. One hose in particular has...

Related articles

What Are Leaf Springs?
A A leaf spring is a component of some vehicles’ suspension systems. Specifically, a leaf spring is composed of several (or occasionally just one) thin strips of metal, called leaves, arranged on top of each other to form a single...
What Is the Difference Between the Upper and Lower Radiator Hose?
Your Your radiator is an essential part of your automobile. It does more than just hold the bulk of the car’s coolant, though. It’s actually responsible for removing excess heat from the coolant before it is sent back to the...
What Advantages Do Aftermarket Suspension Components Offer?
Most Most modern cars’ and trucks’ suspensions are carefully designed to ensure adequate performance under a variety of conditions. Still, every suspension represents numerous compromises, as manufacturers must design their cars for a variety of needs and conditions while ensuring...