Tyrepower Margaret River
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What does it mean when your suspension is squeaking?

Detail of the suspension in a double wishbone vehicle.You don’t need to be able to work on your own car, but being in tune with sounds, smells and changing in driving feel are helpful for understanding when it’s time to book your vehicle into a workshop.

Understanding Vehicle Suspension: What You Need to Know

When discussing the comfort, handling, safety and capabilities of any car, the vehicles suspension plays a critical role. Whether you’re commuting to work on a freeway or navigating a rutted out old fire trail in a national park, your suspension ensures a smooth ride, ensures the tyres have traction and provides predictable handling characteristics.

Given the importance of your suspension, it’s important to understand what the function of suspension is, be able to recognise common signs of wear and tear, as well as understand the servicing requirements of your suspension.

What is Vehicle Suspension?

At its core, vehicle suspension is the arrange of components underneath your vehicle that is responsible for helping ensure that friction between the tyres and the road is maximised at all times.

Suspension is also responsible for ensuring passenger comfort by reducing vibrations and bumps from the road and helping reduce road and tyre noise from entering the vehicle.

The suspension on your vehicle contributes greatly to the handling, performance and longevity of your vehicle.

Major Components of Vehicle Suspension

While there are some variations, the suspension in a vehicle is more or less made up of the same components, laid out differently in some cases. The main components that make up car suspension include:

Springs

Most of the time, suspension springs just look like any other type of spring, that being a coil of wound steel. There are actually many types of springs used in vehicle suspension, with other types being leaf springs, torsion bars or even rubber blocks in some older vehicles. Springs store and release energy as they compress and rebound, absorbing vibrations and allowing the suspension to move up and down.

Shock Absorbers

Also known as dampers, shock absorbers act to control, or dampen, the motion of the springs by converting the motion into heat. Essentially a tube filled with oil and some valves that slows down the motion of the springs. If you’ve ever been on a pogo stick, this is what a car with faulty or missing shock absorbers feels like to drive.

Control Arms

Control arms allow the wheels to move up and down while being constrained in certain dimensions. At their simplest forms, they’re a metal rod with a bushing at either end that allows a small degree of movement. There are some designs of suspension that require extremely complex control arms, but they all perform the same function.

Bushings

Speaking of bushings, suspension bushings allow a small amount of movement in between suspension components. They’re usually made from rubber or polyurethane, their secondary function is to act as a cushion between components for vibrations, noise and friction.

Sway Bars

Sway bars are essentially specialised control arms that link one side of the suspension to the other. They are used to control how much a vehicle rolls side to side when cornering. Sway bars are useful on the road and at higher speeds for stability.

Sometimes, sway bars are temporarily disabled or removed for serious off-road use, where extra suspension articulation is required. These activities are outside the scope of this article, but keep an eye out for future blog posts regarding 4WD suspension setups.

Understanding some of the basic suspension components will help in recognising the symptoms of potential issues and allowing a professional to address them before they escalate into major repairs.

Normal Wear and Tear of Suspension

Regardless of how careful you drive or how much you drive, the suspension system undergoes normal wear and tear through its lifecycle. How fast your suspension wears out fully depends on a variety of factors such as the type of roads you drive on, weather conditions, how heavily loaded your vehicle is, the type of vehicle you drive and more.

Much of the time, suspension servicing or repairs is relatively inexpensive. It’s important to note that most of the symptoms of worn out suspension have multiple potential causes, but at each Here are some common signs that your suspension system could be in need of attention:

A bouncy ride: If every bump on the road feels magnified, and your car feels unsettled over bumps and corners, it could indicate that your shock absorbers or struts are worn out. Another sign of worn out struts are oil leaks under one or more corners of your vehicle.

The car pulling to one side or the other: Feeling your car pulling to one side regardless of the road conditions can be a symptom of a poor wheel alignment, which can be caused by damaged or worn out suspension components such as bushings.

Nose diving under braking: If your vehicle noticeably dips forward when stopping, it’s a sign that your shock absorbers are becoming worn out. Other causes might be an overloaded vehicle.

Uneven tyre wear: Uneven tyre wear has a long list of potential causes, but a common sign is wheel alignment issues caused by suspension bushings wearing out or suspension being knocked out of alignment due to potholes. A wheel alignment or tyre rotation service can both diagnose and attempt to correct uneven tyre wear if the issue is caught early.

Your Local Tyre and Wheel Experts!

The suspension system operating in good condition is essential to your vehicle’s performance, predictability, safety and comfort.

Routine tyre and suspension checks, can significantly enhance your driving experience as well as improve confidence in your vehicles abilities.

At Tyrepower Margaret River, we understand the importance of maintaining your vehicle’s suspension along with its tires. Reach out to us today for more information and take advantage of our free tyre inspection service. It's the perfect way to ensure your vehicle remains in top driving condition.

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