For many people, a car is simply a tool that helps them go from point A to point B. They get in, drive it, and expect it to be ready when they want to hop in once again.
But a car is actually an intricate set of systems all working together to keep you safe and secure while you move throughout your busy day. You rarely think about what could go wrong until it actually does.
Often, people don’t ask questions like “what if I drive with a broken suspension” until they encounter a problem with their cars. At that point, it’s a little too late to be able to do anything more than call a tow truck and pay the costs.
Every automobile on the road today is designed with a suspension system. The suspension system is a collection of parts designed to keep your car off the ground and in motion as it moves from here to there. It keeps you comfortable as you hit bumps. It keeps you secure as you move through turns and corners.
Every piece of your suspension system plays a part in the process. If one part goes out, it impacts the entire process.
Your suspension system consists of:
- Steering system
- All the parts that connect the system together
Like all parts, each is designed to last for only so long. From the moment you drive off the showroom floor, wear and tear occurs to each part a little differently. It depends on driving conditions. It also depends on your driving habits.
Over time, it starts to falter. It doesn’t perform the way it once did. You start noticing problems. The squeaks. The clicks. Or maybe it feels like you traded your luxury car in for a truck. You feel every bump in the road.
Parts wear down over time. But in some cases, it goes a step further. You face a broken suspension system instead of one that’s just in need of repair. What then? Is it safe to drive? Do you need to call a tow truck?
In most cases, a broken suspension means immediate replacement. It needs repair before you can drive. But it also depends on what part brakes.
Wheel system failures are almost always caused by the improper installation of the wheel itself. During installation, as the wheel is being mounted, lug nuts or other intricate parts to the wheel aren’t tightened the way they should. As they loosen, the wheel studs break and the wheel separates from the car. This can also occur with improper maintenance, or manufacturer’s defects.
Your tire is one of the most common reasons for broken suspension failures. If your tire is flat, you can’t drive on it for even short distances. If you put too much pressure on the wheel without the protection of the tire, you’ll destroy the wheel. And without properly inflated tires, you won’t be able to stop or handle the car around curves and turns the way you can under normal conditions. It becomes difficult to steer, slowing down is problematic, and you’re at greater risk for getting into an accident. Change the tire as soon as you discover it’s flat.
Every car has a coil spring within the suspension system. The coil springs allow the wheels to carry the car vertically, while also holding the rest of the car together. The size of the spring determines the height of the ride. If the coil spring breaks, your car will appear to sit lower than normal. You’ll often find the coil springs start to rust over time where they connect to the suspension system. A broken spring will also affect wheel alignment and cause a distinct rattling noise. If you keep driving on it, it can become dislodged if you hit a bump or pothole, and possibly damage other parts of your suspension system.
Shocks and Struts
If a shock absorber no longer works, you’ll notice your car starts to bounce quite a bit. It may also squat or dive excessively as you apply the brakes. All of these can make the car uncomfortable to ride in, but more importantly, it can also make it difficult to control. Especially as you pick up speed. If you discover you have a broken shock absorber, never increase to highway speeds. Avoid tailgating, taking corners too fast, or braking or stopping quickly.
The struts are part of the suspension system that hold the body of the car off the ground. Struts connect many different parts of the suspension system, including the coil spring and shock absorber. They impact both your car’s steering and alignment. If your car’s struts break, it’s similar to having both your shocks and coil springs break. That means your ride will both be uncomfortable to drive, have the possibility of damaging other parts on your car, and unsafe.
Have you started to notice your steering is acting funny? It might be your steering rack or something like tie rod ends. With the rack and pinion steering system, it connects the movement of the left-right steering wheel to the left-right tires to make the wheels turn. The steering column itself sits on a pinion gear that turns, connects the gears in the rack, and gives it the left-right control. The “power” in power steering comes from pressurized fluid flowing through the passages that give you the power to turn the wheels. This fluid also keeps everything cool and prevents damage as metal hits metal. It’s important to change this fluid on a regular basis, according to your car manufacturer’s guidance.
Your car’s suspension system has too many parts to discuss them all here. But every one of them is necessary to keep your car working properly and to keep you safe as you drive. If any part fails, it can make your driving experience unsafe at best.
If you think you have a problem, don’t put it off. Schedule a maintenance appointment today, and we’ll ensure your car is in the best working condition possible. It’ll give you confidence to know your car is as safe as it can be.