Your car’s suspension system is more than just about getting that “magic carpet” ride. A properly maintained suspension system is imperative not just to the comfort of your car, but its safety as well!
Your car’s suspension system, at the most basic level, is made up of struts and shock absorbers. These provide damping over bumps, and keep the vehicle from bouncing over uneven terrain. To absorb impact, these components are filled with either oil, gas, or a combination of both, which gets compressed when travelling on rough roads.
While shock absorbers only serve the purpose of dampening the impact of uneven terrain, suspension struts play an additional role. Suspension struts not only absorb impact, but also contribute to a vehicle’s structure and support.
In the front of most cars, you’ll find the most common and efficient type of strut, the coil-over-strut. This setup is where the coil spring is perched on the strut, held in place by a top mount. Also known as a MacPherson strut, it serves several purposes. MacPherson struts provide damping, help control the movement of the spring, and serves as a structural mounting point, connecting the wheel to the body of the vehicle.
Regardless of your car’s suspension setup, a replacement of suspension components is typically required after every five years or so. However, if you’ve been driving your car hard and neglecting it, these components might be due well before that.
To ensure a comfortable and safe journey, here’s some ways to keep your car’s suspension in optimal condition. If you’ve unfortunately already neglected your car’s suspension for a while, read on to find out how your suspension components will let you know they’re due for replacing.
How can I take care of my car’s suspension?
Proper tyre inflation
It might not seem immediately evident, but tyres are arguably the most important part of your car’s suspension system. Not only do they provide traction, they act as an impact barrier for smaller bumps on the road. Over-inflated tyres will transmit more impact to the suspension system, while under-inflated tyres will put more strain on suspension components.
Slowing down over humps
Road humps are annoying – especially those placed at the bottom of a slope, or at carpark exits. But there’s annoying, and there’s 8-in-a-row annoying, such as those at our land checkpoints. Tempting as it seems to fly over them, make it a point to slow down – your suspension will thank you. Flying over a hump may cause the shock absorbers to deform or leak, as they’re unable to absorb the impact that quickly.
Nothing sucks more than hearing and feeling that sickening thump when you hit a pothole. Though they’re less prevalent in Singapore compared to up North, do keep an eye out for them this monsoon season. Worse than road humps, potholes cause irreversible damage to your suspension components due to the large and fast impact.
5 signs your car’s suspension components need replacing
Weird ‘kok-kok’ noises
If all your suspension components are working as intended, you’ll notice little or no noise coming from the undercarriage of your car as you drive along. When suspension components are worn, however, tolerances decrease and you might hear several noises. These can be squeaking, creaking, or ‘kok-kok’ knocking noises as you drive along. This could be due to faulty struts, springs, or suspension top mounts.
A crashy or bouncy ride
A main role of the suspension system is to smoothen out bumpy roads, for that comfortable and plush ride. If you start to feel every single bump and dip, however, it’s a clear sign that something’s gone wrong. A crashy or bouncy ride typically means that your car’s shock absorbers or struts have worn out, and aren’t able to properly absorb undulations on the road.
Diving, rolling, and squatting
A functioning suspension system should not only absorb bumps, but also keep the car level when driving. If your car’s starting to feel more like a sampan than a sedan, there’s likely to be a problem with your shock absorbers or struts. If there’s a failure, these are the three main signs – the nose dives forward when you brake, the car rolls to the sides when taking corners, and the rear squats backward when you accelerate.
Uneven suspension height
Typically, your car’s suspension system keeps it nice and level when parked. There are several cars which are exceptions, which have a noticeable front or rear sloping rake configured from the factory. However, if you begin to notice one corner of your car sitting a lot lower than the others, you might have a worn or damaged spring.
Oily shock absorbers
As rule of thumb, your shock absorbers should be given a visual once-over at regular intervals. We recommend checking them every time you’re down by the wheels checking tyre pressures killing two birds with one stone. Upon inspection, if your shock absorbers have a greasy sheen to them, it’s likely they’re leaking fluid and require replacement.
The best way to check your car’s suspension
Suspect something’s gone wrong? There’s an easy way to check the health of your suspension components, without any tools.
Commonly known as the ‘bounce test’, all you’ll need is your body weight and a keen observation. Simply push your entire weight down on your car’s bonnet, then release and count how many times your car bounces. If there are more than three bounces, then there’s quite certainly a problem with your shock absorbers or struts.
Funny noises coming from your car’s undercarriage? Or does it feel like a bouncy castle every time you go over a hump?
Let AutoApp help! Sit back, relax, and let our friendly Service Ambassadors sort out your car’s suspension system, all without you having to leave home or interrupt your schedule.
To learn more about AutoApp, or to download the app on your device, head on over here.