The suspension system absorbs the energy from bumps in the road so it doesn't move the car body. Without it a car would lift off the road and then crash back down with every bump. While some people like to feel the road, the bucking would be both uncomfortable and unsafe. Shocks keep the tire flat to the road and keep the tires even. The contact with the road is important for the brakes to work properly.
The main components of the suspension system are ball joints, control arms, coil springs, and McPherson struts.
In most suspension systems, suspension is hydraulically controlled by a computer called the ride-control module. The computer tracks pressure to each corner of the vehicle. If there is a drastic change in one corner, it will adjust the pressure in the MacPherson struts. This readjustment can prevent a car from rolling over.
The main components of the steering system are tie rod ends, pitman arms and idler arms.
The purpose of the steering system is to allow the steering wheel to control the direction the car moves in. The tie rod ends, pitman arms and idler arms work in conjunction to allow the wheel to “steer” left to right, right to left and back to center.
The following are signs of normal wear:
- The car rides bumpy and soft, like a baby carriage.
- You can feel the vibration from the road.
- The brakes feel like they're not working properly because the suspension in the front dives toward the ground instead of holding the car even. Rear brakes don't work right because the car is higher in the back.
- Wear on the suspension can cause scraping, which can damage other systems, like the radiator.
- Play in the steering can be a sign of wear to the steering system.
What can go wrong
Without proper car a failure in the suspension system and steering system can cause the car to operate in unexpected ways. This can be failure to steer properly or failure to brake properly due to extreme wear to these systems.
Care and maintenance
Car manufacturers recommend that your vehicle suspension and steering systems be inspected once a year or every 15,000 miles, whichever comes first. It is important to maintain these systems to keep your car safe and on the road.