What do I need to do to maintain my suspension?
Proper vehicle maintenance is the key to getting long life out of your vehicle. From oil changes to tune ups, most people keep up on these maintenance items to ensure that their car performs well. Your suspension is no different when it comes to maintenance. Consisting of a number of different components that serve different purposes, your suspension can have failures that can be costly. Many times these repairs can be prevented or minimized if the suspension is properly maintained. Knowing what to look for can help you if you’d like to do your own maintenance and can help you to identify underlying problems.
A thorough visual inspection is the best maintenance that you can do on a suspension system. Taking an in-depth look at all of the suspension parts can help you to identify a part that may fail soon. The suspension should be inspected at every oil change. This is assuming that there are no other issues or odd noises in between oil changes.
With the vehicle in the air, all of the rubber bushings need to be inspected. There are typically bushings on the control arms, sway bars, track bars, strut rods, and any number of other parts. These parts should be checked for any cracking, oil contamination, swelling, or if they are simply missing. If there is a small amount of oil on any bushing, it should be cleaned off immediately and any oil leaks should be repaired.
Oil is the most common cause of bushing failure with age coming in second. If a bushing has oil on it, a good degreaser should be used to get the contamination off. Failure to do so will allow the bushing to soften which ultimately leads to failure. If any them show any of these signs, then the bushing(s) should be replaced.
The suspension will typically also have some ball-type joints. They are used in the ball joints on the suspension as well as the tie rod ends and the stabilizer link pins. These should be checked for ripped rubber boots and excessive freeplay. These joints should be nice and tight.
Some of them may have grease fittings on them. This is more common on trucks than it is on cars. If the joints have these fittings they can be greased at every oil change with a grease gun.
The shocks or struts should also be routinely inspected. These are typically inspected visually. If there is oil leaking from them, then they need to be replaced. If you notice that the shocks or struts are wet, then they should be replaced.
The suspension should also be checked physically. With the vehicle on the ground a bounce test can be performed. Push the vehicle up and down and see how many times it bounces before it stops. Any more than two bounces means that the struts or shocks are worn out and need to be replaced.
These simple inspections apply to the front and the rear of most vehicles. If your vehicle has been lifted or lowered or has any other suspension modifications, then you should inspect the suspension more often. Changes to the suspension will cause all of the suspension components to sit at angles that they are not designed for, which will cause them to wear out prematurely. It is a good idea to upgrade your suspension parts to heavy duty or polyurethane if the vehicle is modified.
Staying on top of your suspension is important if you want to get long life out of your vehicle and prevent costly issues. Failure to identify failing parts before they become problems can cause multiple related parts to fail and can cause some serious tire wear issues.
In the instance that you do find worn out parts, you should replace them with good quality parts. Cheap aftermarket parts will fail prematurely and will end up costing you extra time and money. Using good quality parts and having suspension components properly installed by a certified mechanic, like one from YourMechanic, will ensure a longer life for your suspension.
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