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Your car’s suspension is a system of springs, shock absorbers and linkages that connect your vehicle to its wheels and support its weight. The vehicle’s ability to absorb shock, maintain contact with the road surface and it’s cornering ability are all dependent upon the suspension.
Suspension can be optimized either for performance (think: sports car) or a comfortable, smooth ride (think: luxury car). Most cars offer some balance between the two because physics just doesn’t allow for both.
The coils, shock absorbers, strut and tires all affect driver’s ability to control the car, while keeping passengers comfortable by reducing the impact of road noise, bumps, and vibrations.
Springs: Coil or leaf springs actually handle the bumps and potholes that the road (no matter how flat and even it looks) places on your car. Tightly wound springs are built for handling. Loosely wound springs provide a smoother ride.
Shocks: Shock absorbers handle the abuse produced by the rebound of your cars springs.
Struts: A strut system brings together the coils and shock absorbers of a conventional system and places them into one unit. This does away with the need for many other parts. With fewer parts to the strut system there are fewer parts to break or replace during the ownership of the vehicle.
Tires: That’s right, tires! Tires are where the rubber meets the road, literally. Tires must be in good condition for the suspension to work properly. Under-inflated, worn out or otherwise faulty tires make it tough for the suspension to do its job.
Diagnosing Suspension Problems
Easy test: Press downward with your body weight on one corner of the vehicle. If it bounces more than once, the shock or strut is probably worn and needs replacement soon.
Other symptoms: If you get the feeling that your car wants to turn when you want to go straight; if your car leans excessively in curves or if you see little scallops in your tire tread (known as “cupped tires”) these are all signs that something may going on with your suspension.
Your local mechanic can perform a more detailed diagnostic check to determine the exact cause of the problem and make repairs before additional damage occurs.