Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: What Suspension Components Are Most Likely To Fail

asked by on

What suspension components are most likely to fail?

A: The suspension on your vehicle was designed...

The suspension on your vehicle was designed to give you the best combination of comfort, reliability, and performance. Depending on the manufacturer, the suspension can be fairly simple or it can be very complex. Your suspension can consist of a control arm or two, and up to several different strut rods and track arms. With all of these possible parts, which are consistently moving while the vehicle is in motion, you can have any number of failures. Every vehicle out there is a little different from the next, so they all will be a little different when it comes to failing parts. With that being said, there is one part that is common to all vehicles that tends to be the most common failure.

All vehicles come with some sort of suspension strut assembly or shock absorber. Both of these are designed to do the same thing, though they have a slightly different mounting. Their purpose is to control the oscillation, or the up and down movement, of the suspension springs. What this means is that, as you go over bumps and imperfections in the road, the wheels move up and down on the suspension. The up and down movement comes from the suspension springs allowing the suspension to move.

If there were no shocks or struts installed, the spring would push back on the suspension rapidly causing the vehicle to start to bounce. Once the vehicle starts to bounce, it would become very dangerous. The shocks and struts control this movement. They have an internal piston that travels within a cylinder, which is filled with pressurized gas and fluid. That internal pressure fights against the pistons movement making it hard for the shock or strut to expand or retract rapidly. This resistance controls the movement of the suspension spring. It basically slows down the bouncing and causes it to stop within about two bounces when it is functioning properly.

Being that the shocks and struts are constantly moving as the vehicle is going down the road, they tend to wear out the fastest. The most common failure of the shocks is the piston seal. This seal fails from constant movement and ends up allowing the fluid to leak from the cylinder and it allows the gas to escape. Once this occurs the vehicle begins to bounce more which causes the tires to wear prematurely and can cause other suspension parts to fail prematurely.

It can also fail and begin to bind internally. If this occurs, then the piston can no longer move within the cylinder. When this happens, it causes there to not be movement in the suspension, which causes the vehicle to ride extremely rough. When either of these instances occur the shocks or struts need to be replaced. When they are replaced they must be replaced in pairs to ensure that the suspension is balanced.

Your shocks or struts will be the most common suspension part that will need to be changed. Over time your vehicle will also need bushings or ball joints, but these do not typically fail until they age and begin to rot.

There are other scenarios that will change which parts fail. Oil leaks will cause rubber parts of the suspension to wear prematurely. Modifying your vehicle by lifting or lowering the suspension, as well as installing larger wheels and tires will also cause suspension and steering components to fail much faster than they normally would. The best way that you can ensure that your suspension components do not fail prematurely is to inspect them regularly and to be easy on your vehicle when driving over large dips and bumps in the road. Having a certified mechanic, like one from YourMechanic, can help you to identify suspension problems before they occur.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Save up to 30%

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Nissan squeaks a lot on bumpy roads

Usually when you hear squeaks over bumps this is related to a tie rod or a ball joint that has been dried out. If your tie rods and ball joints are serviceable, they will have grease fittings on them in...

Q: Steering wheel issue on Toyota Gabriel

Watch my video on how to fix the suspension on your car. Jack the car up, pull on your wheels, and then you can see. Are the wheels moving? If they do--they are not supposed to move, so look inside....

Q: Rear tires on passenger side locked up

I would not drive the vehicle until it is looked at, as it is possible for the fault to cause an unsafe driving condition. When a brake locks up without any reason, it is most likely caused by a failure...

Related articles

How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the P0052 code means This code is seen when the Engine Control Module (ECM) tries to control the...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...