Your Car's Suspension!

Betty is a professional who works at the local hospital in administration. Although her car is 5 years old, she wouldn't dream of parting with it because it is her baby. It was her first new car and has all the options she feels are necessary. She has looked at other vehicles but they didn't appear to measure up to her liking. If there ever was a person in love with her car, Betty is attached to this one. She feels she knows everything about the car and feels a peculiar camaraderie for it. After all, it has always been there for her.

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Betty's car bounces when it goes down the road. She hears sounds of scraping, rattling, groaning, and banging. When driving, she also feels vibrations of shaking, wobbling, pulling, tugging, and jerking. What causes a car to bounce excessively over bumps, make strange noises when going over potholes; steering that is hard to control, and excessive leaning to one side when going around corners?

Normal driving puts a strain on your vehicle. These conditions were factored in when the engineers designed your vehicle to attain a comfortable ride while the vehicle is in constant motion. Consequently, many suspension parts are moving on a certain plane and for compensation, other suspension parts move in an opposite direction. These constraint push and pull factors keep your vehicle within specified limits to create that comfortable ride. However, when road bumps, hills and dips, road curves, or road shifts of up, down, and sideways cause your vehicle to bounce or sway, that's an indication some parts are not doing their job and creating undo stress upon other parts. This is what causes suspension parts to wear, and why you need to have your suspension system checked periodically for auto repair in Monroe, MI. When is a good time for this inspection? Any time! But probably the most convenient time for you is when you get your oil changed. It's much simpler then because your car is already on the lift and the inspection takes only a few extra minutes.

There are a number of different parts to your suspension system and each one has a different function designed to keep your vehicle in contact with the road and provide a comfortable ride.

  1. Ball Joints -- support the weight of your vehicle and join the suspension to the tires. The MacPherson strut system uses a single lower ball joint while the conventional system uses two -- an upper and lower. Normal wear and tear causes the ball joints to become loose in their sockets, (the tolerance of the ball is exceeded) requiring them to be replaced. Indications of a bad ball joint can be a knocking noise or a bottoming-out sound coming from the front end while going over bumps, holes, or making sharp turns.
  2. Coil Springs -- connect a vehicle to its wheels. They also support your car and absorb the motion of the wheels by their constant compressing and expanding. Springs wear over time by losing their elasticity at which point the vehicle tends to sag losing its height profile. Or, when the vehicle does not sit level a broken spring is a possible cause. Either condition requires replacement.
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  4. MacPherson Struts -- are found mostly on front-wheel drive vehicles. When used on the front suspension, they replace the upper control arm and ball joint. Some struts have coil springs around them while others do not. A strut's function is to keep the vehicle in a vertical position. Hence, when you notice your vehicle leaning hard while cornering, or it rolls while taking curves it may be time for a strut inspection and replacement.
  5. Shocks -- function to stabilize the vehicle any time it is disturbed such as going over bumps, holes, cornering, or stopping. Good shocks dampen the motion and energy potential of the springs and provide a smooth ride while minimizing spring bounce and keeping the wheels in contact with the road. Signs of wear are leaking oil along the shock body, broken mounts or mounting hardware, worn, missing bushings, cupped tire wear, excessive vehicle bounce, and hard leaning while the vehicle is cornering. Inferior shocks produce a hard ride.
  6. Rack & Pinion -- steering unit gear-sets do two things: convert the turning of the steering wheel into the linear motion needed to turn the front wheels, and provide gear reduction, for easier turning of those wheels. Common problems that affect the rack & pinion unit is: contamination of fluid, leaking fluid, morning sickness,(where the steering is stiff on a cold morning and does not normalize until the system warms up), and center wear; which is caused by wear between the rack and pinion gears. This is when you experience 'steering wander' as you drive straight ahead. System failure includes pulling to one side, noisy steering, leaking fluid, shimmy of the front wheels, and wandering from side to side when the wheel is held in turning positions. Also, your steering maybe hard to control while moving at a slow speed. It is recommended that the power steering fluid be flushed every 50,000 miles, sooner if needed.
  7. CV Joints w/CV Boots -- are found mostly in front-wheel drive cars. They transfer the torque from the transmission to the steered wheels at a constant speed, and in the process accommodate the up and down motions of your car's suspension. The most common problem is CV boot (the protective covering for the CV joint) damage, allowing dirt and moisture in and lubrication to seep out. This causes the CV joint to corrode and fail. Should a damaged boot not be repaired in a timely manner the CV joint may disjoin -- disabling your vehicle. A constant clicking or popping noise when turning indicates a probable malfunctioning CV joint.
  8. Front Stabilizer Bars -- keep a vehicle's body from rolling during sharp turns. A stabilizer bar forces a car's body to stay relatively flat by shifting the force from one side of the vehicle to its other side. A stabilizer bar may break from undue stress at which time it needs to be replaced.
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  10. Sway bar links -- connect the sway bar to the suspension system and work with the stabilizer bar to reduce body lean and roll. Signs of wear include excessive body-lean when cornering and metal rattling together when driving over bumps and holes. When this happens the link's bushings need to be replaced.
  11. Pitman Arm -- connects the steering box to the steering gear. The Pitman arm linkage to the steering gear converts the angular motion of the sector shaft into the linear motion needed to steer the wheels. A bad pitman arm causes play in the steering system.
  12. Center Link -- supports the proper position to keep left and right steering wheels working together and control the left and right linkage movement that changes wheel direction. A worn or bent center link causes front-end shimmy and excessive steering motion with little directional change.
  13. Tie Rod Ends -- The tie rod transmits force from the steering center link or the rack & pinion gear to the steering knuckle. This force causes the front steering wheels to turn left or right. The outer tie rod end connects to an adjusting sleeve, which allows the length of the tie rod to be adjusted. This adjustment is used to set a vehicle's alignment angle. Worn tie rods cause wandering, erratic steering, and major tire wear.
  14. Idler Arm -- is on the other end of the center link and serves as a pivot-point to the steering linkage assembly. Indications of replacement are irregular tire wear, such as feathering or scrubbing.
  15. Lower/Upper Control Arms -- join the wheel hub to the vehicle frame allowing for a full range of motion while maintaining proper suspension alignment. Signs of wear include uneven tires, suspension noise, misalignment, steering wheel shimmy, and vibration.
  16. Control Arm Shaft -- holds the control arm bushings and provides an isolated and cushioned link between the control arms and the chassis. Signs of wear are excessive steering play, hard steering, irregular tire wear, front-end noise and shimmy.
  17. Front Spindle -- links the control arms, ball joints, springs and steering system all together, and provides a mounting for the wheel assembly. It connects the wheel via wheel bearings to the wheel hub. Replacement is needed when the wheel bearing point on the spindle is excessively worn.
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    This seems like a lot of information to retain. How can one know what is important and what is not, unless one is an automotive engineer? Isn't it comforting to know that there are experts in the field who are able to provide their assistance? It can be as easy as driving your vehicle to the local auto repair in Monroe, MI garage or service facility you trust. They will explain to you the condition of your car's suspension, what's working, and what needs to be replaced. Past experience has taught you to trust their advice because they have shown their ability to get the job right, the first time.

    We at New Age Garage pride ourselves on our ability to acquire our customer's trust in our judgments, statements, and work. That's because everything we do is in keeping with our customer's best interests. Our assistance and advice is never self-serving. We know you didn't come to our shop to get ripped-off. You just want straightforward, simple, and honest answers, (i.e. do I need a suspension part? YES or NO! How much will it cost?) That's what we provide. Honest and complete responses to your queries.

    Should you be thinking of having your car or truck's suspension system examined we would be happy to perform that service for you at no cost or obligation. And if you feel strongly about your car like Betty feels about hers, we can help you keep your car in service for as long as you want.

    Call us anytime: 734-241-4221.Tell us what you think your problem is, and we will suggest a time that is convenient and sensible for you to receive our premier auto repair in Monroe, MI.

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