Have you ever seen that old Lincoln bouncing up and down going down the toll road? Or ever notice when a vehicle makes a tight turn and it looks like it might fall over?
Well, those are two common signs that a shock or strut in your suspension system has gone bad. And unlike the engine, which gets attention every time you change the oil, your suspension is harder to assess visually, and sometimes, costly issues are looming just around the bend.
While we do a thorough vehicle inspection with every service visit, we're also going to help you keep your eyes and ears open for signs that your shocks or struts may be coming to the end of their useful lifespan.
1) Your ride quality is poor. When talking about ride quality, all vehicles are different. From a tight, bouncy suspension on a pickup truck to the more loose, absorbent feel of a luxury car, all vehicles are designed differently based on what their intended purposes. With that said, the only person who knows how your vehicle handles is the person who drives it the most: you! If you are starting to feel that your vehicle is more bouncy or rough or tends to "roll" on turns, it's time to get your vehicle’s suspension inspected.
2) Nose dive when braking. This is a common issue in larger vehicles when a shock or strut goes bad. Nose diving is caused when you apply your brakes, and the front of the vehicle starts to point toward the ground. No, your vehicle will not flip over like it does in the movies when this happens, but this can be a safety issue. In severe cases, there can be longer braking times and a momentary loss of steering. This is because your shocks or struts are not strong enough to handle the weight of the vehicle.
3) Your vehicle has "body roll." This is a term used to describe how the body of a vehicle feels based on the overall movement. If the shocks of your car or truck are starting to go bad, even on the slightest turns, the body will have a leaning feel. Again, this can be a safety issue, so have your vehicle inspected.
4) Your vehicle "squats" when accelerating from a dead stop. Unless your vehicle has more than a few hundred horsepower, the vehicle's weight and force should be held up with the strength of the shocks and struts no matter what type of acceleration you might need. If your shocks and struts are bad, however, when you hit the gas pedal, the momentum of the vehicle will be transferred to the rear end, which will cause the front end to rise slightly into the air and resemble a boat on the water.
5) Visible damage including dents, cuts or leaks. Each shock or strut is a piston-like design that has an internal reservoir of hydraulic fluid that helps stabilize and control the vehicle body and your wheels. Evidence of a damaged or leaking shock or strut is an easy clue that it's probably time for some suspension work.
From nose dives to squatting and body roll to ride quality, with these five simple signs, you'll know if it's time for some suspension work.
Brian Blohm is the Service Manager and Managing Partner - Operations for CARS of America in Glenview. He is an ASE-Certified Automotive Service Technician and ASE-Certified Service Advisor with more than 25 years of automotive experience. A graduate of Triton College with an associate's degree in Automotive Technology, he has continued his training and education with the Automotive Training Institute and RL O'Connor. You can reach Brian via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (847) 961-4363.