The suspension and steering systems of your car are under constant pressure more than any other parts. The suspension is always at work throughout the car's lifetime, whether you're driving it or not because it supports the vehicle's weight. Luckily, the parts are durably built to withstand the harshness and take longer to wear and tear than most of the other car parts. The steering and the suspension, however, need to be kept in safe working condition as some of their components are prone to malfunctioning. Among the elements likely to fail are:
Tyres – Yes, the tyres are part of the suspension system. Tyres are essential as they carry the vehicle's weight, absorb minor shocks, and provide the traction needed to move and turn the car. Being in contact with the ground, they are subject to wear and tear, cuts and punctures from sharp objects, and bending or cracking of the rims from hard impact. Issues with the tyre affect the driveability of a vehicle, for instance, uneven tyre pressure, uneven tyre wear, and poor alignment cause the car to pull to one side. For this reason, it is vital to rotate your tyres after moderate usage to ensure even wear and replace whenever they're worn out. Learn more from our blogs about car tyre maintenance practices.
Springs, shock absorbers, and struts – When you drive over a bump or pothole, the springs absorb the shock that the tyres cannot absorb, while the shock absorbers dampen the motion of the spring from too much bouncing. The springs lose their tension after prolonged use and break from hard impact. Broken springs result in rough, uncomfortable rides, and driving over potholes or bumps will feel like riding on tyreless rims. The shock and the struts are filled with thick oil or air, which may leak and cause a system failure. Failure of the shocks and struts results in bumpier rides and over-bouncing, which affects the controllability of the vehicle in rough or uneven roads.
Connecting rods – The suspension system is connected to several solid metal rods that keep the system in place relative to the rest of the vehicle. These connecting rods rarely fail, but in hard impacts such as what happens when you drive off-road or run over an object at high speed, they may bend or break and require replacement.
Bearings – The wheels drive on the bearings to allow rotation. The bearings wear out with usage or get damaged from impact, especially when overloaded or at high speed. The damaged bearings require immediate repair or replacement. Failure to repair or replace promptly may lead to damage to other parts.
Flexible connections – Suspension and steering systems are movable parts and have several linkages such as bushings, bearings, and joints that are flexible to allow minor twisting or sliding. While the joints and bearings require greasing, the bushings that separate the steering and suspension system and the car’s frame do not. They are made of rubber and do not require lubrication. The joints, e.g., those attached to the control arm and both sides of the steering system, regardless of lubrication, also wear out leading to loosening and eventually to complete malfunction. On the other hand, the bushing rubber also wears out or becomes brittle and breaks.
Steering systems – There are three types of steering systems – traditional manual steering, hydraulic power steering, and electric power steering. They all have multiple components that are vulnerable to failure.
The manual type has joints, a steering box, and tie rods that wear out and bend or break from prolonged usage or hard impact. Hydraulic power steering that uses highly pressurized fluid is also prone to leakage from the high pressure, wearing out of the valves, and loosening or breaking of the belts that drive the steering pump. The hydraulic pump itself is also vulnerable to malfunctioning. The electric steering systems have their weaknesses too as they use sensors, have wired connections, rely on car battery power, and have actuators, all of which can malfunction.
The hydraulic power steering system is more prone to failure than the other types but is also simpler and cheaper to maintain.
The steering and suspension, being systems with multiple parts and joints, have many vulnerabilities. They require regular inspection and immediate attention whenever you notice any change in steering ease or driving comfort. Keep in touch and learn more on vehicle maintenance from our blog.