Is your car’s suspension in good shape?

Bad suspension could leave you vulnerable on long drives with an unexpected breakdown or even lead to a crash. Thankfully, regular car maintenance will help identify problems before they become a life-or-death issue. 

There are some obvious signs to look out for to ensure that your car's suspension is in good health, early warning signs that allow you to take corrective measures before it’s too late. A Car Maintenance Plan through MotorHappy will help you manage the health of your car and help your budget cope with unforeseen expenses. A well-kept car is a happy motor!

When it comes to suspension, keep an eye out for these signs of a potential problem:

This is one of the most obvious ways to gauge the health of the suspension. Usually, a bad suspension will mess with the ride height and the car will be lower than usual or will sag on one side. This can be easily identified by looking at your car from a distance, or by checking the wheel arches and measuring the gap between the wheels and the wheel arches. If they are not uniform or if the tyres are uncomfortably close to the wheel arches then it means that the needs to be checked out. Ride height under load can also be an important indicator. Sometimes an unloaded car will look fine but under load, it can look uneven or get too low. 

This is when the front of the car gets lower under braking because of the increased load on the front suspension. Some compression is natural but if your car starts to do it too much then there is an issue. Matters might be critical if the front starts bottoming out easily. A similar thing can happen when you speed up quickly and the rear of the car seems to be pulled or pushed down.  However, the front tends to experience higher forces and usually, this makes the suspensions in the front become weaker with time.  

Another important indicator of the health of the suspension are the tyres. If the tyres are showing uneven wear or are wobbling or vibrating then that indicates a suspension issue. Another thing to look out for is tyre pressure. If one tyre deflates sooner than the others and there is nothing wrong with the tyre in question then it might indicate a problem with the suspension. If the tyres vibrate under braking or when negotiating bumps then that is also a good sign of a suspension gone bad. The car would feel ungainly and occasionally it might pull towards one side on its own. The steering might also feel heavy and unbalanced and while other issues can also cause these problems, it is a good idea to have the suspension checked out. 

This will be most apparent when cruising around at regular speeds. If the body of the car feels wobbly then it could mean that the suspension isn't soaking up the forces evenly. This is amplified if the car begins to feel unstable when there is a wind blowing across the road/highway. This will manifest itself in the form of lazy steering. It will feel like the wheels are moving but the rest of the car is staying in place. Odd vibrations under certain conditions such as braking and making sharp turns can also be a very noticeable symptom.

One of the most important functions of the suspension is to keep the car stable when cornering. If your suspension is failing, the car will start behaving erratically when taking corners. The steering will feel spongy and you will suddenly start losing feedback from the tyres. The car won't go exactly where you want to go and there will be a considerable increase in body roll than what you are used to in the car under normal working conditions. When this starts happening, have the suspension checked out immediately.