As long as there have been vehicles, people have been striving to create a safer, more comfortable ride. In fact, the use of stabilizers for wheeled vehicles goes back to ancient Egyptian times.
Even today, engineers are still hard at work making suspension systems even more responsive to road conditions and therefore more comfortable for passengers.
What is a vehicle’s suspension?
The suspension is a complex system of parts that absorb impact, stabilize the wheels and allow you to steer the car properly. The suspension parts also keep the body of your car from hitting the pavement repeatedly as you’re driving over uneven ground. It’s your suspension system that keeps your tires in steady contact with the road, thereby giving the driver control over the vehicle even on imperfect roads.
Unlike more visible items like the headlights or windshield wipers, suspension parts are tucked out of sight, so drivers often don’t think about them.
When your suspension is working, you don’t notice it because you’re getting a smooth ride. But when you feel like you’re being bounced around on a squeaky amusement park ride, your car’s suspension is suddenly much more noticeable.
Why is the suspension important?
The state of your car’s suspension affects your safety, your comfort and the life of your tires.
If there is no suspension system, the shock is absorbed by the body of the vehicle, and by the passengers themselves. This creates a very unsafe condition and can cause injuries.
What happens to your car if your suspension doesn’t work?
Your car has several ways of letting you know when you need to get your suspension checked. Here are a few signs:
- Creaking and rolling when your car goes over a bump.
- The car appears to be sagging over one wheel or on one side
- Feeling or hearing the car drag over or scrape the road
- Steering wheel pulls to one side
All of these signs are indications that you need to have your car checked by a mechanic who’s experienced in repairing suspension systems. By making repairs as soon as possible, you prevent the additional damage caused an unstable suspension.
How Can I Avoid Suspension Problems?
Having your wheel suddenly drop into a pothole and then hit the rocky edge as the wheel rises again is very jarring to your suspension. Avoiding potholes and other uneven areas in the road will eliminate some of the most common causes of suspension problems.
If you can’t completely avoid going over one of these hazards, slow down as much as possible. This action will create a much milder impact between your wheel and the ground.
Respect speed bumps.
You’ve probably been in a car when the driver has gone over a speed bump too fast. It’s a jarring experience for the passengers and for the car as well. If your suspension is already showing signs of wear, flying over a speed bump could reduce the amount of control you have over your steering. Go slowly enough to allow your tires to gently travel up one side of the speed bump and down the other.
Stay alert in parking lots.
Collisions can cause suspension damage. Let’s say you’re driving through a parking lot when another car backs out of a parking space and hits one of your wheels. You may not see anything obvious like a dent, but that impact could damage the steering and suspension parts around that wheel. If you do get hit on a wheel, have your car checked for damage.
Taking care of your suspension will help you have a safer ride, regardless of the condition of the road.