How to inspect your suspension system

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What is the purpose of my steering & suspension systems?

Your steering system and suspension system are two separate systems that work in tandem to keep your car under control.

The suspension system supports the weight of your vehicle, provides a smooth ride and creates stable road control, drivability and handling.

The steering system provides directional control of your car. In a way, your steering system selects the direction of the suspension system and the car simply follows along as it is riding atop of the suspension system.

Why should I have my steering & suspension inspected?

How to inspect your suspension system

Normal driving and conditions create wear and tear on your suspension and steering systems. All of the components that make up those systems such as struts, shocks, control arm bushings, ball joints, coil springs and steering linkage will wear and weaken over time. This wear creates instability in road handling, excessive tire wear, and loss of ride comfort, steering control and drivability.

Having your steering and suspension systems examined by a trusted mechanic will alert you to problems before they become a major issue that leaves you stranded on the side of the road.

When should my steering & suspension be checked out?

Your steering and suspension system should be reviewed on a periodic basis as you hit major milestones. Like all other systems on your car, your steering and suspension systems need occasional maintenance. The best times to inspect your steering and suspension include:

  • Most car manufacturers recommend inspecting each system at every 50,000 miles.
  • Annually – regardless of miles – age deteriorates rubber and hydraulic parts.
  • When tires are replaced – worn parts can reduce tire life.
  • When your brake system is serviced.
  • When oil and filter is changed a visual inspection should be performed.
  • If you observe fluid leaking where you park.
  • Anytime your vehicle is in for routine service and the steering and suspension is accessible.
  • When you feel that your car exhibits any irregular control or handling characteristics.

How do I know that my car isn’t handling properly and should be examined?

If your vehicle experiences any of the following symptoms, a mechanic should inspect your steering and suspension systems:

  • Unusually bouncy or harsh ride.
  • Vibration at any speed.
  • Unusual noise in the front end of your car when going over bumps.
  • Unexpected noise when turning the steering wheel.
  • Steering wheel is no longer aligned straight.
  • Car drifts left or right when driving in a straight line.
  • Uneven tire wear.
  • You observe fluid leaks under the front of your car.
  • Car sways, feels loose or wanders when driving.

Who should inspect my steering & suspension?

How to inspect your suspension system

If you feel your car needs to be inspected or it is simply time for a routine exam, you should take your car to a mechanic who has the proper diagnostic equipment and expertise. Steering and suspension systems are as much a part of the safe operation of your vehicle as the braking system – be sure that who works on your car has the knowledge and experience it takes to work on steering and suspension systems.

It’s always been a thing, especially in the ‘hood I grew up in. The phenomenon of ground-hugging cars isn’t new, but lately, I feel like the trend is more popular than it ever was.

Humble hatchbacks and mainstream sedans (even the odd bakkie!) sitting so low, their drivers have to negotiate minor road imperfections at an extreme angle. Their Waze maps are always set to the route with the least speedbumps.

And when you see some of these cars bobbing on the road like water in a jug being carried by a child, you have to wonder: is that safe? Or completely roadworthy? On one hand, you have apologists of the lowered brigade chanting that stance is not a crime.

This is literally a movement, with actual online petitions and demonstrations in convoy. On the other hand, you have law enforcement bodies countering with certain sections of the Road Traffic Act, giving the impetus to clamp down on cars that are . not so stock.

Let me state for the record that we at this publication advocate responsible, safe and legal motoring. It is undeniable that properly-executed modifications can enhance a car. Better brakes will help you stop quicker. An uprated cooling system will do wonders for the longevity of your engine. An enhanced suspension setup has a number of benefits too.

Though, as with most things in life, there are some provisos. We must now go back to basics and remind ourselves what exactly an effective suspension system is supposed to do. We reached out to the engineering department at Volkswagen SA, who served up a concise, but detailed working definition.

Memorise this for those fireside discussions: “The suspension system allows the maximum contact between the tyres and the road surface, providing steering stability and good handling, evenly supporting the weight of the vehicle and ensuring the comfort of passengers by absorbing and dampening shock.”

Absolute poetry. So, how does lowering influence the handling characteristics of a motor vehicle?

“We understand that lowering a car’s ride height will give the vehicle a more aggressive look and will also lower its centre of gravity, in some instances it may improve handling.” But before you dash out the door to your nearest fitment centre, note that there can be unintended consequences: “If the drop is too low, steering geometry can be negatively affected and interference issues may arise with the tyres, chassis or body parts.”

“Stability may be compromised,” it said, adding that a harmonious setup means a correctly-tuned system of shocks, springs and stabiliser bars. If you were thinking of taking a shortcut to your tarmac-smooching endgame by cutting the springs, hang on.

“Springs generally have a temper in them, to improve strength, heat would remove this when cut with a blowtorch or bandsaw. The result of adding heat while cutting a coil is that basically the spring ends up with reduced spring constant stiffness.

“Cut it in the incorrect place and you end up with an inconsistent spring height which would cause the vehicle to pull to one side.

“When lowering the coil spring, either through aftermarket replacement or cutting, you are changing the stroke of the shock or strut. So, the piston is further inside the body, it will not work as intended.

“The shock shaft, as originally supplied, now becomes too long when lowering your vehicle in this way. The risk here is that you would repeatedly reach the end-of-stroke condition, commonly known as a ‘bump stop’.”

Look, you can go low – just do it properly.

“In summary, if you are going to lower your vehicle’s height through coil spring changes, one would need a shock or strut designed to work in combination with the shorter spring. Generally, a lowered suspension requires a stiffer shock because of shorter stroke.”

We also reached out to specialist Jonathan Rudman of RAPID Fabrication and Performance. He said his firm receives varied requests from customers.

“ What looks good for one person will not look good for another. Some clients just want the car to sit a tad lower, so the wheels can fill the arches, and others want the car as low as possible.”

Asked what an average setup would be, for balance between performance and practicality, Rudman said it depended on the type of vehicle.

“Some vehicles sit a lot higher than others, a 20mm drop will look good on some vehicles and on others, will look like you hardly did anything to it from stock.”

The practice of retrofitted pneumatic suspension is an increasing trend, he confirmed.

“To simplify the workings of the system, it is basically rubber bags that replace the suspension springs on your vehicle, then you can inflate or deflate them, depending on the ride height your desire.

“The air pressure is supplied from a pressure vessel – air tank – that is usually installed in the boot as it takes up quite a bit of space. It is also accompanied with either one or two electric air compressors to replenish the air that is used to lift the vehicle.”

Expect to pay upwards of R20,000 for a setup on an average hatchback. More sophisticated systems that continuously analyse ride height and make adjustments on the go can cost north of R100,000.

Rudman agrees with the sentiment that air-bagging is the safest way to achieve that extreme-stance look, since it offers the flexibility to revert to a “normal” ride height. And he cautions keen modifiers to do their homework.

“Understand that buying a second-hand or a cheap, knock-off air ride system, or having someone that has no experience with what to look for, or how to install the system, can be very dangerous.

“Please be informed and have it done the right way. It is not only your life at stake, but other drivers and passengers on the roads.”

Many car owners become aware that it is time to investigate their vehicle’s suspension components when their car starts to behave abnormally. This can include such times when strange sounds are heard, like clanking or knocking when driving over bumps. Constantly correcting the steering wheel to assist the vehicle going straight is another abnormal experience. These are just two symptoms that lead to a need for a suspension system inspection.

It is routine to have your tires and suspension visually checked by a mechanic when your vehicle has its regular oil change. Performing a suspension inspection may be a bit of a challenge for the beginner so knowing a lot of information about all of the components and the many ways they can fail is helpful when diagnosing a suspension issue. If you take your time to get to know your vehicle very well, then you may be able to identify the source of your concerns yourself.

There are a variety of components that make up the suspension system. Struts, mounts and springs, control arms and ball joints, just to name a few. Along with suspension parts, many other pieces of the car affect the suspension system, such as the tires. They all work together in harmony to cushion both the car and the driver from the rough terrain being driven on. If one part fails, the other components will fail to do their job properly as well, leading to further damage and needed repairs.

Part 1 of 1: Inspecting the suspension system

Materials Required

  • Flash light
  • Floor jack
  • Gloves
  • Jack stand
  • Safety glasses
  • Wheel chock

Step 1: Take your car for a test drive. Drive your vehicle by yourself. Do your best to remove all possible distractions and noises for this drive.

Roll down your car’s windows and try to take note of any noises you hear coming from your vehicle as you drive. If you do happen to hear a noise, pay attention to where the sound is coming from, such as from the front or rear of the vehicle.

Notice if the noises are consistent or if the noises are dependent on what you are doing at the time, such as going over speed bumps or while turning the wheel.

Some common noises that are associated with suspension concerns include:

Step 2: Inspect the outside of the vehicle. Once information has been gathered on the test drive, put the vehicle into Park and set the parking brake.

Be sure to let the car cool down for at least 30 minutes before beginning. This will ensure that you do not get burned during the inspection. Put on a pair of gloves and grab the flashlight

Step 3: Bounce the car. Carefully place your hands firmly on the car, at the seam where the hood and fender meet. Push down hard on the vehicle’s suspension, let go and allow for it to raise back up on its own.

If you observe the car bounce back up and stop, it is a good indication the shock or strut is still good.

If the car continues to bounce up and down, then it is a good indication of a blown-out strut. Attempt this method at all four corners of the vehicle to check each individual strut.

Step 4: Jack up the car. Next is the shakedown test. Use a floor jack to raise the corner of the vehicle. Lift the vehicle high enough to get the tire off the ground and secure the vehicle with a safety jack stand.

Step 5: Shimmy the tire. Hold the tire with both hands firmly at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock and shimmy the tire back and forth.

Place your hands at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock and do the same action again. If you feel any excessive movement then it is very likely you have a worn out component present.

If you feel play at nine and three, then it is in the inner or outer tie rods. Any play at the twelve and six may indicate a bad ball joint.

Note: Excessive movement is not limited to just these components as culprits. Other parts can allow excessive movement of the wheel in these directions.

Tip: It may be best to have a friend perform the shakedown test with you. With a flashlight in hand, look behind the wheel to see if you can view the failing component. While it may be difficult to spot it visually, placing your gloved hand on each suspension component may assist with feeling the excessive play. Be on the lookout for broken bushings or for oil leaking from a shock or strut.

  • Tip: You should also carefully inspect the condition of your vehicle’s tires. Abnormal tire wear can cause rotational noises and allow the vehicle to not track straight. This can be helped with an alignment check.

If you believe you have located your concern to be with one or more of the suspension components, have a certified mechanic assist you in confirming the problem so he or she can help you make the repairs necessary. A professional mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, can inspect your vehicle’s suspension components and steering wheel to help get your vehicle going straight – and safe – again.

The steering and suspension systems are important for both your safety and comfort when driving as they ensure a smooth ride as your car travels over bumpy roads. The two systems are usually talked about together as they are directly related to each other. However, what does each system do? When do you need to check these important systems? And, how can you tell if either system is damaged in some way?

How to inspect your suspension system

What does the suspension system do?

Simply put, the suspension system connects the vehicle to its wheels. In doing so, it takes responsibility for two main functions:

  1. Providing a comfortable ride for the driver and passengers by smoothing out the bumps and other imperfections in the road.
  2. Keeping the wheels on the ground as much as possible to provide traction.

Without a suspension system, the car’s wheels would hit a bump and move up and down perpendicular to the road surface. This vertical energy would be transferred to the car’s frame, which would pull the wheels away from the road before gravity takes over and slams the car down. The suspension system must be finely tuned using a combination of springs and shock absorbers to reduce these effects for a comfortable and smooth ride.

What does the steering system do?

Basically, the steering system allows the driver to guide the vehicle. The steering wheel is connected, via the steering column and a series of pivoted joints, to the suspension system. This allows the wheels to move up and down as required by the road surface without changing the steering angle. This system also ensures that the wheels turn as required, for example the inner front wheel (which has a tighter curve than the outer one) is more sharply angled when cornering. Like the suspension system, the steering system also requires precise adjustment, as any looseness in the joints can make the steering dangerous.

When should you get your steering and suspension systems inspected?

It’s a good idea to schedule regular inspections of your steering and suspension systems. It is usually easier, cheaper and safer to discover and fix a problem before it snowballs, causing further consequences.

There are three times when you should get your steering and suspension systems inspected.

Firstly, at the following times:

  • Every 50,000 miles (approximately 80,000 km).
  • As part of your annual service or any time your car is in for routine service and the steering and suspension systems are accessible.
  • When your tyres are replaced.
  • When your brakes are serviced.
  • When your oil and filters are changed.

Secondly, if you are involved in an accident where your front wheels or suspension are damaged, your entire steering and suspension systems should be checked for damage. Additionally, you should get your systems inspected if you notice any difference in your suspension or steering after any accident.

Lastly, if you notice any of the symptoms listed in the next section.

Symptoms of faulty suspension and/or steering systems

In addition to any of the points mentioned above, it is recommended that you (or your mechanic) visually inspect your steering and suspension systems if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Nose dives, squats or rolls – when your car nose dives forward, squats backwards or rolls from side-to-side when you move in different directions.
  • Bottom out – when your car doesn’t have enough suspension to absorb the bump it is driving over and the tyres hit the bottom of your car when the suspension is compressed.
  • Bouncing over bumps – when your car bounces repeatedly after driving over a bump in the road.
  • Bumpy ride – when you can feel every bump in the road.
  • Bump steer – this happens when your car hits a bump and the wheels turn left or right without the driver turning the steering wheel.
  • Oversteer / Understeer – when the rear or the front of your car loses traction when rounding a corner. This is worse when road surfaces are slippery.
  • Hard steering / power steering doesn’t seem to be working – this is when it becomes more difficult to turn your steering wheel.
  • Loose steering – the opposite of hard steering above, steering is now too easy and feels sloppy.
  • Car pulls to one side when driving / car seems to wander down the road – this is often only noticed when the problem becomes severe. When driving, you need to hold the steering wheel in place in order to keep your car going in the right direction.
  • Steering wheel jerks – while you don’t notice any (or many) other problems, your steering wheel seems to jump or jerk at irregular intervals.
  • Steering wheel vibrates – from 72 km/h (approximately 45 mph) your steering wheel and car start to vibrate.
  • Steering wheel wobbles – your steering wheel starts to wobble from side-to-side when you drive at a constant speed.
  • Noises when turning a corner – the only symptom you notice is a knocking, clunking and/or squeaking noise when you turn a corner.
  • Noises from the power steering unit – the only symptom you notice is a whining noise from the steering when you turn the wheel fully in one direction or the other.
  • One low corner – in other words you notice one corner of your car is lower than the others when it is unloaded and parked on even ground.

What parts of your steering and suspension systems should you inspect?

Annual or bi-annual inspections of your steering and suspension systems should include:

  • Inspecting your shocks for leaks, cracks or other damage;
  • Looking for vehicle bounce, nose dives, squats or rolls;
  • Spinning the tyres manually to see if there is any wobble, imbalance or uneven tyre wear;
  • Checking for leakage from any of the steering components;
  • Ensuring the tension in the power steering pump belt is correct;
  • Bouncing the car to see if your shocks or struts are functioning correctly.

Who should inspect your steering and suspension systems?

Inspecting your steering and suspension systems requires a range of specific tools and specialist technical knowledge. As these systems are critical to your safety, it is vital that these safety inspections and repairs are carried out by a certified technician if they are beyond your expertise level and available tools.

For more information on what is causing your steering and suspension system problems check out our diagnostic center.

The content contained in this article is for entertainment and informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.

Updated Oct 22, 2020 | Same topic: Handy Maintenance Tips

Every car’s suspension system is responsible for absorbing all the bumps and lumps in the road’s surface. It also allows you to brake and accelerate safely. All thanks to the car’s good suspension system, it is more fun for the driver and passenger to enjoy a smooth and comfortable ride.

But just like any other things, suspension system can be worn out over time, especially if it is used almost every day. When this happens, braking and accelerating will be a bit difficult. It will also give you a hard time controlling the steering wheels, and it’s very uncomfortable to drive.

Luckily, It is actually easy to diagnose if your car’s suspension system has problems that need to be solved as soon as possible. In the below article, will provide you some guides that help you notice air suspension matters which can cause serious damage to your car and your life as well.

1. Car’s Overall Stability

As a driver, you can easily notice if the car you’re driving isn’t stable. Sometimes, you might notice that your car is too bouncy and is not equally leveled. If this is the case, most probably the problem is the spring in the system. It can either be broken or sagged but it can be both.

When that happens, you’ll feel and notice that the car is slightly lower on the other side. You can test your car by parking it on a flat and leveled surface. Pay close attention to your car if you feel that it sits at an odd angle or the other side is slightly lower than the other. When you feel that your car has the following symptoms, better have it checked and repaired as soon as possible.

How to inspect your suspension system

A bouncy and unleveled car height is a sign of car suspension problems.

2. Bumpier Ride

If you notice that you’re beginning to have a bumpier ride, it is time to check your car’s air suspension system. It is an indicator that the struts and shocks of the car are already worn. If that’s the case, a repair or replacement is necessary.

The shock absorber (true to its name) is responsible for absorbing shocks and keeping your tires on the road. Shocks on cars have fluid that dampens the bouncing, and when they leaked, will eventually result in shock failure, and the car’s performance suffers, giving you a bouncy and very bumpy ride.

Top Ten Signs of Worn Shocks and Struts

3. Difficulty in Steering and Control

If you’re starting to have difficulties in controlling the steering wheel, probably there is something wrong in your car’s suspension. Check out the other signs of suspension problems that affect the steering such as uncontrolled steer where the car would voluntarily steer or jolt to other directions.

Another symptom is when the car is veering on the corner or one side of the road. Worn control bushing is most likely the one responsible in this scenario. Bushings can be a rubber or metal that also help absorb shocks. When it wears, it leads to difficult handling, and it shortens the life of your tire.

How to inspect your suspension system

A damaged car suspension system will result in difficult steering and control

4. Noises

You know that your car’s fine if it runs smoothly and quietly. A well-maintained car shouldn’t make any unordinary noises. That is why as a driver, you should be able to listen and be alert whenever there are any unusual sounds and vibrations in your car. Knowing your car’s normal sound will help you identify the problem as early as possible.

More often, loud and unusual noises are the result of an engine or car parts damage. Squeaking and clunking noise may be an indication of damage or failed car components. You may particularly hear these noises when driving in bumpy or rocky roads.

More often, these noises are a result of a failed strut or a smashing car parts because of the destroyed rubber stops in the car’s suspension. Resolving these problems as soon as possible will save you from further vehicle damage that can lead to accidents.

5. Abnormal and Faster Tire Wear

When your car has suspension problems, there are higher risks of faster tire wear. You can easily notice if there are suspension problems in your car if the tire isn’t evenly wearing. The car’s tire is one of the key indicators of car problems and issues.

Always check if there are high or low areas where the bead wiring has begun to poke through the rubber. If there are unusual or abnormal tire wear, it is better to have your car checked. There are higher chances that your car’s suspension system has been damaged and needs repair.

How to inspect your suspension system

Abnormal tire wear is a result of a damaged car suspension system.

>>> Read out to know more tire safety tips:

6. Misaligned Wheels

Often times, we think that when there are problems in the suspension, it’s in the suspension alone. You often forget to check if there are problems in your wheels too. When there are problems in your wheels such as misalignment, tire wear increase, and you will have problems in center steering especially if you’re driving on a straight road.

Misaligned wheels often bring more damages to the suspension system, particularly in the springs and control arms. It is better to have your wheels checked and aligned whenever you change your tires, or as often as possible.

How to inspect your suspension system

Misaligned wheels will increase the chances of tire wear and a higher risk of accidents

By the given symptoms above, you can easily diagnose that your car’s suspension system is in need of repair or replacement. It is important to always have regular maintenance and vehicle check-up to solve any existing car parts issues. It will not only stop further damage to other car parts, but it will also save you from accidents due to mechanical errors and faults.

Remember that the car’s air suspension system is responsible for giving you easy control over the steering and provides you with a comfortable ride. Take note to take care of the following car suspension components:

  • Damper / Shock absorber / Struts
  • Coil spring
  • Upper and lower control arms
  • Control arm bushings

It is your responsibility to make sure that your car is in good shape and good driving condition to ensure the safety of other drivers, pedestrian and most especially yourself.

Is It Time for a New Suspension or Just Repairs?

How to inspect your suspension systemIt’s usually easy to tell if your car’s suspension is having issues, but it can be difficult to diagnose the actual cause of the problems. Bad or worn shocks, struts, springs, tie rods or ball joints can cause costly damage to your vehicle and make it unsafe to drive.

Unfortunately, the suspension is often taken for granted – but it supports the entire weight of your vehicle. Suspensions are more than just about a smooth ride. A worn out suspension affects your ability to control the car, especially when stopping or turning, and can affect performance at different speeds. Pay attention to how your car handles, sounds it makes, and have problems checked immediately as they come up.

We get it – wear and tear happens, it comes with every part of every car. Regular wear and tear also comes with the need for a regular inspection and maintenance plan. Suspension maintenance and repairs are just as important as any other maintenance items, like oil changes or brakes. If you ignore problems with your car and allow them to fester, you will end up with more and more repairs that cost more and more money to fix.

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Suspension

There are many things to look for to determine if your suspension system is failing in some way or needs repair. Since the suspension affects so many other systems that influence the control you have over your vehicle, it’s important to be aware of symptoms to determine if individual parts or the system at large is failing.

Car Ride is Not Smooth

There are many reasons your car might not drive smoothly. Aside from the tires, the suspension is usually one of the first suspects when your ride becomes bumpy or rough. When you can feel every bump in the road and it makes your car bounce, it’s time to get your suspension looked at. You can test the suspension yourself by doing the “bounce test.” While the car is parked, put all your weight on the front end and then release. If the car bounces up and down like a kid at a techno concert, the shocks and struts need to be replaced.

Worn out shocks can mean big problems if you don’t get them replaced.

Shock absorbers keep your tires on the road. If they don’t, the car will bounce all over the road and become uncontrollable. Shock absorbers serve to “absorb” the bumps and bounces. When they wear out, you definitely feel it in the performance and controllability of your car. If they fail entirely, your car could be severely damaged.

Car is Difficult to Steer

If your car becomes hard to steer, especially at low speed, something might be wrong with the suspension. Because your steering is linked to the suspension and the two rely on each other to get their respective jobs done, it’s important to pay attention to the steering – it’s the way you control your car.

If something is affecting your control of the car, it could be the suspension or it could be something in the steering system itself.

How to inspect your suspension systemLow power steering fluid, worn or loose belts, worn out control arm bushings could all be part of the problem. Squealing or whining when you turn the wheels of your car is usually a sign that the power steering pump is failing. As you can see, when steering becomes difficult, it’s time to steer your car to a mechanic.

Car Drifts or Pulls to One Side

If your car drifts or pulls to one side as you drive down a straight road, it could be due to any one of a number of reasons – tires, brakes, steering or suspension. It’s a difficult problem to diagnose, but there are things you can do yourself to possibly eliminate the causes and save yourself a trip to the mechanic.

The first thing you can do is check your tires.

Check the tire pressure. An underinflated tire can cause the entire car to ride strangely, including pulling it to one side. If you find yourself constantly fighting your steering wheel, check the tire pressure. Additionally, you’ll experience uneven tire wear all around and decreased gas mileage. If the tires haven’t been rotated regularly, get them rotated. This can be a cost effective solution to an annoying issue.

Have the alignment checked.

If you do a lot of driving on rough roads, or have hit more than one pothole or curb, and you notice some weirdness in the steering, there’s a good chance you need an alignment. A poor alignment will cause uneven tire wear, which then becomes another potential cause of the car drifting or pulling.

If the suspension is damaged, get it fixed to avoid bigger issues.

If your car drifts or pulls, a tie rod, spring, or control arm could be broken. This will cause severe difficulty in steering and affect your ability to control the car beyond just casual drift or pull. Go to a mechanic and have it fixed immediately.

Car Sits Low or Nose Dives

If one corner of the car seems to sit low when it’s parked, this is a sign of a damaged or broken spring.

When driving, you’ll notice a clunking sound when you go over bumps or turn. This is because the damaged or broken spring can’t support the weight of the car. A blown spring will put undue stress on the shock absorber, too, and vice versa. The two work so closely together that if one goes, the other has to compensate. But the spring is primarily responsible for any variations you see in the level sitting of your car.

If your car nose dives, leans back or rolls, the shocks or struts need to be replaced.

Braking transfers the weight of the vehicle to the front, and if the shocks and/or struts are worn out, this will cause the car’s nose to dive or dip down much more than you’re used to. You’ll notice it. Additionally, the car will lean back when you accelerate, as the weight of the car is transferred to the rear. When you take a corner, the car will roll – not roll over, but lean excessively to one side. The car will not be level, but it will lean so one side of the car dips down and the other side rises up, all without the tires leaving the ground.

How to inspect your suspension systemAAMCO Can Help with Your Suspension and Steering Repairs

Because suspension and steering are such important components for the control and safety of your car (and nice, smooth ride) it’s critical to keep them maintained, and get them inspected and repaired if you experience problems. If you start noticing any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, or suspect that there could be some issues with any parts of your suspension or steering, schedule an appointment with a professional mechanic to diagnose the problem and recommend next steps for repair.

Find Your Local Minnesota AAMCO Auto Repair & Transmission Center

If you have any questions, feel free to call and talk with one of our courteous technicians. Or, book an appointment online to reserve your time, date, and location.

How to inspect your suspension system

(Updated on March 18, 2022)

The suspension system is basically the series of parts which support the vehicle as it moves on the road. These are components which give your vehicle the ability to make turns as you rotate the steering wheel and to absorb shocks when you drive over bumps or potholes.

In modern-day vehicles, there are literally hundreds of parts which made up the suspension system. But here, we’ll go over the most important car suspension parts and their functions.

If one of these components were to malfunction, then it would cause problems for the drive-ability, comfort, and safety of your vehicle.

Table of Contents

Suspension System Components

1) Springs

How to inspect your suspension system

Coil springs are the components of a suspension system which absorb the impact when you drive over bumps or holes in the road. In some model vehicles, they use metal rods instead of springs to do this.

But in most vehicles, there are springs which bend upon impact. That way, the driver and passengers do not feel as much of the impact as they sit in the cabin.

2) Wheels/Tires

How to inspect your suspension system

The wheels and tires are the outside components of the suspension system. The tires, in particular, are very important because they are the only parts which touch the ground as the vehicle moves.

Every time you drive over a bump or pothole, the tires incur most of the impact. Plus, your braking, corning, and accelerating actions have a big impact on your tires too. If your tires were to leak are or not have adequate tread, it would interfere with the smoothness of your driving.

3) Shock Absorbers

How to inspect your suspension system

Shock absorbers work alongside your springs to reduce the impact of bumps and potholes. Even though the springs technically absorb the impact, it is the shock absorbers which support the springs by reducing their motion.

That way, the vehicle is not bouncing up and down like crazy after you drive over a bump. Shock absorbers contain thick oil inside of them. If it were to leak out, it could cause problems with other areas of the suspension system.

4) Rods/Linkages

How to inspect your suspension system

There are several rods which link different components of the suspension system together. These are metal linkages which are highly durable and should last for the duration of the vehicle’s lifespan.

The only real time a rod might fail is if you get into an accident and it suffers damage as a result.

5) Joints/Bearings/Bushings

How to inspect your suspension system

These components are what keep the linkages connected to the bigger components. Not only that, but parts like bearings and bushings enable sliding and twisting actions to be made by certain components too. Lubrication is not often needed either.

However, the suspension bushings can wear out quickly if they’re made of rubber. The joints may also get too loose over time as well. That is why if you ever have a problem in your suspension system, it is probably one of the smaller joints, bearings, or bushings causing it.

6) Steering System

How to inspect your suspension system

The steering system may not be a direct component of the suspension system, but the two do work together to make the wheels turn. The linkages, tie rods, joints, wheels, and other components are all controlled by the steering system to some degree.

When you go to turn the steering wheel, it causes the wheels below your vehicle to turn in sync with the rotational movements.

7) Frame

How to inspect your suspension system

The frame is perhaps the biggest component of the suspension system. It is basically the structural skeleton which carries the weight and load of the entire vehicle, including its components.

Although it helps support the body and engine of the vehicle, there are other components of the suspension system which contribute to this too.

Coil springs, like all springs can wear over time and not offer the protection they first provided. This is because the springs are made from steel and over time, the compressive forces will cause the metal to permanently deform so that it does not return to its original position. While this is expected, if it is left unchecked for too long you will have problems with your suspension not handling all of the bumps along the road and your vehicle can even bottom out on larger bumps causing damage to the undercarriage.

How Can You Check Your Coil Springs?

The most common problem induced by coil spring wear is a coil spring that has been compressed. When this happens, your car, truck, van, or SUV will sit lower than it should so that there is less distance for the chassis to travel when going over larger bumps. To check for this you can easily look at how your car or truck is sitting when it is on an even surface.

Park your vehicle and crouch behind to see if the rear frame is sitting lower to the ground, and especially if the frame is sitting lower on one side. This unevenness could be due to one coil spring or leaf spring being more worn or damaged than the other. Repeat this for the front suspension by crouching in front of the vehicle.

Of course a telltale sign is if your vehicle has started to bottom out when you go over bumps while driving. This is a sure sign that your suspension system, including your coil springs, needs to be inspected closely and probably in need of repair. Additionally, if you hear a grinding noise while going over a bumpy road, this can also be an indication that your coil spring has broken and needs immediate attention. Watch and listen for any of these signs to determine if you need to replace your coil springs.

General Spring: Your Place for Expert Advice and Quality Parts

If you are finding that your suspension is sagging but don’t know what is wrong or what to do, it is best to turn to an expert. The dedicated team at General Spring has gained the knowledge and expertise needed to determine what is wrong and what you need to replace. We are confident that we can help you find the right type of suspension product at the price that is within your budget.

Along with providing a full service facility, we are also able to ship our exceptional suspension products anywhere in the entire United States and overseas. Take a look at our online catalog . If you still cannot find the right coil spring for your vehicle, call our customer service department to consult with one of our experts to custom design one for you.

So if you need to find the right suspension products for your vehicle, call us today. You can do so locally at 913-829-0619 and national customers can call us toll free at 1-888-829-0619. We look forward to working with you soon.

How to inspect your suspension system

Automobile suspension bushings come in a variety of shapes, sizes and thicknesses, according to their application. Bushings may be make from several materials, including rubber, polyurethane, urethane and graphic composites. Bushings prevent wear to expensive suspension components by absorbing vertical and lateral forces produced by the vehicle over different terrain. They cushion and absorb shock on the chassis to keep it shock from entering the passenger compartment. While absorbing these vibrations, they still allow limited movement and flex in the suspension joints, keeping the wheels firmly grounded and on track during turning maneuvers. A vehicle’s owner may check all its suspension bushings for proper shape and condition.

Step 1

Perform a drive test over an area that has various road surfaces, such as straight pavement, dirt roads, rough pavement, speed bumps and curves. Listen for any suspension noises. Clunks, squeaks and squeals (without brake application) will be the first indications that one or several suspension bushings have worn or cracked. Heavy clunks while turning the steering wheel in either direction may point to a suspension bushing problem. Notice if the vehicle pulls or drifts to the left or right while you are driving on a straight and level highway.

Step 2

Park the vehicle and apply the emergency brake. Examine each one of the tires—especially the front tires—for abnormal wear patterns. Tires worn on the extreme inside (negative wear) or outside (positive wear) tread surfaces, will point to suspension misalignment, which could be bushing-related. Scalloped cups in the tire tread will indicate shock or strut problems, both of which carry small bushings.

Step 3

Raise your hood and locate the top shock or strut tower in the fender well. You will see a rubber bushing sitting underneath a spacer at the top of shock mount. Examine the bushing for any deformity, such as a crushed (flat) appearance, cracking and splitting.

Step 4

Push down several times on the suspension and see if the rubber shock bushing separates momentarily from its compression on both sides. Such play or movement will indicate a crushed and worn bushing. Examine the rear shocks—which might have two bushings at each end—for the same symptoms.

Step 5

Slide under the front of the vehicle with a flashlight, or as far as you can with the limited clearance. Shine the flashlight on the large angular bar that stretches from one wheel location to the other. This is the anti-sway or stabilizer bar. There should be two frame-mounted bushings and two end bushings.

Step 6

Examine all four anti-sway bushings for cracks, a flat or crushed appearance, or evidence that a bushing is cocked and squeezed partially out of its bracket or joint. Pull on the anti-sway bar with your hand to see if you can detect movement. A loose bar or deformed bushings will need to be replaced.

Step 7

Use the floor jack to lift the vehicle high enough to place two jack stands under the front frame and two jack stands under the rear frame. Locate the upper and lower control arms on one side of the vehicle. The control arms appear as large triangular frames and connect with the top and bottom steering knuckles of each wheel. Each control arm has two end bushings. Examine the bushings for cracks and deformity. Wedge a pry bar between the frame and lower control arm an push slightly to check for play.

Step 8

Wedge the pry bar between the upper control arm and the frame. Wiggle it back and forth and look for play in the bushing sleeve. You may also examine some upper control arm bushings from the engine compartment by looking downward. Look for excessive gaps between the bushing sleeve and retaining spacer. Any sloppy play that produces a noise in either the upper or lower control arm indicates a worn or defective bushing.

Inspect any small stabilizer links that have smaller bushings. The bushings should not be compressed and extend out past their washers. They should have a bulbous shape, and not be squashed on either end or flattened. Look for the torsion bar to control arm bushing for the same symptoms. Refer to your owner’s repair manual section that displays all the major and minor bushing locations. The number and locations of the bushings will depend upon the make and model of your vehicle.

Andy Mohr Collision Center Blog

Posted: June 10, 2019

How to inspect your suspension system

Accidents can cause a good amount of damage whether they’re minor fender benders or a major collision. One aspect of your vehicle that can easily take some damage after a collision is your suspension system. To show Plainfield, Indianapolis, Fishers, and Bloomington area drivers what to look for when dealing with suspension damage after an accident, we’ve brought you this guide. At Andy Mohr Collision Center, we want to make sure your vehicle gets the care it needs after any type of collision.

What Is a Suspension System?

Roads aren’t always perfectly smooth surfaces and in order to compensate for that, you have a suspension system. This collection of parts within your car is designed to provide you with a smooth drive feel no matter where you go. The bulk of your suspension system will be made up of your chassis, which supports the cabin of the vehicle. There are also shocks and struts, which help to absorb bumps in the road, so you can simply glide over many obstacles with ease. Your suspension ties directly into the way your car feels to drive, so it’s good to make sure yours is in good condition. A damaged suspension can make your drive feel rougher and even make your handling less accurate.

What to Look for With a Damaged Suspension System

How to inspect your suspension system

When dealing with damage to your suspension system there are several symptoms that you can look for. Probably the most obvious symptom to look for is just the way your car feels when you drive at low speeds. If it feels like you’re rocked by even the smallest bumps while you’re cruising through the streets, that’s a good sign you have some suspension damage. You don’t need to be in motion to see if your car has suspension damage, though. Sometimes you may notice that one corner of your car almost seems to dip, and this is another very good sign that you should have your suspension looked at. It’s also good to pay attention to the way your car moves when you brake. A very common sign that your suspension system has been damaged is if your car dips its front end when you brake. If you feel like your car seems to dive forward a bit, there’s a good chance there’s something wrong with your suspension.

How Does an Accident Damage My Suspension?

Even if you’re in a collision that’s as small as a fender bender, there’s a lot of force that goes into an accident. Your suspension system is a finely-tuned mechanism and something as simple as hitting a pothole the wrong way can cause some minor damage to your suspension. That’s why it’s good to simply be aware of how your car feels when it drives, no matter what. Oftentimes it’s good to have your suspension at least looked at to ensure it’s in good shape after a collision.

Maintain Your Suspension at Our Service Centers

If you’ve recently been in an accident, we can get your suspension back in great shape. We’re always happy to make sure Plainfield, Indianapolis, Fishers, and Bloomington area drivers keep their cars running great for years to come. Are you looking to get your suspension repaired? Schedule a service appointment at Andy Mohr Collision Center today!

Schedule Your Estimate Today

If you’ve been involved in a collision or other mishap on the road, contact Andy Mohr Collision Center. Our technicians are ASE-certified and have years of experience, so you can rest assured that your car will be in capable hands.


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Get Your FREE Post-Accident Checklist

How to inspect your suspension systemIn the event that you end up in a car accident, we want you to know exactly what to do in the crucial moments following.

How to inspect your suspension system

Your car has a suspension system made up of shock absorbers, struts and various other linkages and bearings that work to minimize friction between your tires and the road. When you fire up your engine and accelerate to high speeds, the suspension system keeps you and your passengers stable inside.

Most roads aren’t completely flat, so your car is likely to bounce up and down rapidly as it’s thrusted upward and then pulled back down by gravity. Suspension parts keep your ride as smooth as possible by absorbing energy or “shock” that travels vertically.

A car suspension problem will make driving less stable, more uncomfortable and unsafe as handling becomes affected.

Signs of Car Suspension Problems

Before you look into suspension repairs, you have to know whether you have a problem with your system. Most of the time, you’ll be able to feel problems with your shock absorbers or struts from behind the wheel. A common sign of suspension problems is the sensation of a steering wheel slipping when it’s turned or not held at a certain angle.

The suspension system keeps your wheel intact and steady as you drive. This makes it easy to maneuver your vehicle and stay in control even when you’re driving fast or on uneven terrain. However, with a damaged steering suspension, you face the risk of your car veering off to one side of the road and losing control entirely.

Another sign that you need a car suspension repair is your car leaning to one side when parked. If your car is on level ground but still shifts heavily in one direction, it’s likely that a suspension spring is damaged or broken. You can test this at home by pushing down on the trunk of your car. If the car bounces a lot and/or you hear some creaking or squeaking, chances are that you have a faulty spring.

A Word of Caution

Don’t adjust driving to accommodate difficult suspension.

If you notice a change in handling, head to a local garage as soon as possible and have your suspension system checked out. Your car gives clear signs when something is wrong. The biggest mistake you can make is to ignore it altogether and just change your driving method. The longer you drive with problems, the worse they’ll become. Prolonged damage eventually leads to sudden breakdowns and unexpected mishaps, which puts you and other drivers at risk of a serious accident.

Tension behind the wheel means your car isn’t as easy to control. You should have your shock absorbers and struts tested by a professional. Some signs that your need to have your car suspension checked is a bouncing feeling while driving and wobbliness at higher speeds.

If your shock absorbers and struts are damaged, bigger parts could be damaged, too.

How much does car suspension repair cost?

It’s not possible to put an exact figure on the cost of a suspension repair because several factors that impact the total.

First, your car’s make and model will play a significant role in how much you pay for a suspension repair. Luxury vehicles tend to cost double, so a BMW or Jaguar is going to be significantly more expensive to repair than a Honda or Toyota.

Car suspension cost is also affected by labor costs, the necessary parts and the extent of damages. The brand of parts your mechanic buys as well as the garage rates will impact the final cost of service.

Your insurance may also play a major role in your repairs. Standard car insurance doesn’t cover regular repairs from normal wear-and-tear.

Unless your suspension system was damaged from an accident or another incident like hitting a massive pothole, you may have to pay for the entire repair out of pocket.

How to inspect your suspension system

The 5 Most Expensive Car Suspension Repairs

Shock Absorbers and Struts

Shocks and strut repairs can stop your car from pulling in a certain direction while you drive and reduce friction. Every vehicle should have its suspension system checked for wear-and-tear after every 50,000 to 60,000 miles. A set of four shock absorbers averages around $1,400, but that price may increase depending on the type of car you drive.

There are some do-it-yourself kits out there, but unless you’re experienced with cars and know your way around a vehicle’s inner-workings, you could do far more harm than good.

Ball Joint Replacement

Ball joints connect your car’s tire and wheel to the suspension system. Replacing one costs about $200, but a set of four could run closer to $1,000. Some vehicles only have front ball joints while others have them in the back as well.

Spring Replacement

Spring repairs will reduce bounce, increase stability and make it easier to drive. Depending on your car, the average cost of a coil spring replacement is around $390. The total cost may change based off your model, the extent of the repair and how many springs needed fixed or replaced.

Total System

When it comes to suspension services, you many need front suspension repairs, rear fixes or an all-around overhaul. In extreme cases, a mechanic may suggest replacing the entire system due to structural damages. If this is the case, expect to spend at least $3,500, excluding garage costs for labor.

Choosing the Right Mechanic to Fix Your Car Suspension

You can drive a car with bad suspension, but it’s not recommended. Doing so greatly increases your risk of an accident and worsens the damage that’s already been done. Also, the sooner you seek a professional’s help, the less money you’ll have to pay. A massive repair could be a minor replacement if it’s caught on time.

Call your car warranty company first and check your coverages. In some cases, you may have to work with a specific garage or company to receive compensation. If you’re able to choose your own, shop around and get an estimate. Make sure that you find a professional that doesn’t push a total suspension system replacement unless it’s necessary.

Ultimately, safety is your top priority. A smooth, steady ride with a good suspension system protects you and your passengers. So, it’s always better to get your car looked at before you experience any major difficulties.

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You may not even notice your car suspension and everything it does for you. Because there are many dynamic forces at play and the road is certainly never smooth, your suspension system has to work hard to keep your wheels firmly planted on the pavement and help you maintain control of your vehicle. In fact, the only time you may notice your suspension is if it isn’t working properly.

Car Suspension: Taming ForcesHow to inspect your suspension system

As you drive around, your vehicle experiences forces, for example, when you accelerate, all the weight in the car tends to roll backward, while braking tends to force everything forward. Without the suspension, all that movement would quickly become uncomfortable, not to mention that traction could be reduced.

While you’re turning, weight tends to shift toward the outside of the turn, so the tires on the inside of the turn would lose a measure of traction and control. Finally, irregularities and bumps in the road would easily make driving quite uncomfortable and reduce traction and control if the tires lose contact with the road. Every part of the suspension system is designed to help you maintain traction, control and comfort in your vehicle.

Car Suspension System Parts

Here are a few parts of the car suspension system in most vehicles and their functions. Note that these parts interact with each other, and some parts may play multiple roles:

  • Control Arm

Depending on the suspension system in question, such as wishbone or multilink, control arms define each wheel’s range of motion. In the rear, this is limited to a more-or-less up-and-down motion, while the front also allows for turning left and right.

  • Ball Joint

In the front, the wheels need to turn left and right to allow for turns. The ball joint allows not only for turning but also the up-and-down motion of the control arms.

  • Spring

Between the control arm and the frame or body, leaf springs, coil springs or torsion bars support the weight of the vehicle. Some coil springs may be part of the damping system, such as MacPherson struts or coil-over shocks.

Normally, a spring in motion will continue in motion, so a vehicle that hits a bump will simply keep bouncing unless there is something to stop it. Using hydraulic fluid, the shock absorber or damper slows and stops these oscillations.

Sometimes called a sway bar, this part of the car suspension is connected between the control arms on the left and right and to the body in the middle. It helps to control body roll in turns, improving traction and control.

If something goes wrong, then you can usually tell what part of the suspension is faulty by the symptoms you experience. For example, if your car is too bouncy, maybe the shock absorbers are worn. If your car seems to roll too much, maybe you have a problem with the anti-roll bar or its links. If your tires are wearing unevenly, perhaps you have a loose ball joint or need a suspension alignment.

Check out all the steering and suspension parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on taking care of your car suspension, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

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Suspensions and revocations

Conviction of a serious traffic violation or multiple traffic violations can result in the suspension or revocation of your driver license or privilege to drive in New York State. It is illegal to drive here when your driver license or driving privilege 1 is suspended or revoked.

If your license or driving privilege is suspended or revoked, DMV will send a notice (called an “order”) to the address we have on file. Be sure to follow the instructions on the order.

Suspended driving privilege

A suspension means your license or driving privilege will be taken away for a period of time. You may need to pay a suspension termination fee . Your suspension period can be definite (which has a beginning and end date) or indefinite, which does not end until you take a required action.

Definite suspensions

If you receive a definite suspension order, it will tell you how long the suspension period will last. You cannot drive until the period ends, you pay a termination fee, and have a valid driver license again. You can use DMV’s My License, Permit or ID service to check if your license is valid.

Common reasons for definite suspensions

  • you did not have automobile liability insurance 2
  • you were convicted of an alcohol or drugged driving charge 3
  • you received too many traffic tickets in a certain amount of time 4
  • you did not follow the rules for junior drivers 5

Indefinite suspensions

If you receive an indefinite suspension order, it will tell you what you must do to remove the suspension.

Common reasons for indefinite suspensions

  • you did not answer a traffic ticket 6
  • you did not pay a Driver Responsibility Assessment (DRA)
  • you did not file a motor vehicle accident report
  • you failed to pay child support 7
  • you have unpaid NY State tax debts 8
  • you did not have automobile liability insurance 9

Note: Your license or driving privilege may be suspended due to a medical condition that affects your ability to drive safely (see Administrative Review Suspensions).

Revoked driver license or driving privilege

If you receive an order from DMV saying your license or driving privilege is revoked, this means your license has been cancelled and you must get a new one when the revocation period ends. In most cases, before you can get a new license you must first request approval from DMV when the revocation period is over. You may be required to take the written and driving tests again and pay a license re­application fee. Your application may be denied if you have a high risk driving record or fail to meet DMV requirements. You may also need to pay a driver civil penalty before your license or driving privilege can be restored.

Common reasons for revocations are

  • you operated or permitted operation of a vehicle without insurance
  • you were involved in an uninsured motor vehicle accident
  • you were convicted of an alcohol or drugged driving charge 10
  • you were convicted of a serious traffic offense or multiple offenses
  • you failed a DMV road test
  • you made a false statement on an application for a license or registration
  • you were a driver in a motor vehicle crash that involved a fatality

How to check if your license is suspended or revoked

Sign up for MyDMV and use the My License, Permit or ID service.

How to restore your driving privilege after a suspension of revocation

Read the instructions on the suspension of revocation letter we mailed to you carefully. You can also use the restore license service to see what steps you will need to take.

How to inspect your suspension system

The suspension system is basically the main stabilizer of the vehicle. When you’re driving over rough terrain or road conditions, the suspension system absorbs all the vibrations and impact that comes from driving through these areas. This allows for the driving experience to be more comfortable for the people in the cabin, so they’re not getting bounced around and jerked all over the place. It also helps sustain the health of the car as well.

The car suspension system is comprised of hundreds of components. They all support the weight of the vehicle as it travels along on the road. Not only does it absorb the impact of things like potholes and bumps, but it also allows you to turn the steering wheel so that your vehicle turns are much smoother.

Table of Contents

Suspension System Components

Rather than explain each individual part, we will go over the most important parts of the suspension system. Below is a list of these parts.

1. Coil Springs

When you drive over a pothole or bump, the coil springs are responsible for absorbing this impact. Sometimes there will be metal rods which do this rather than coil springs, but most vehicles use the coil springs for this purpose. Since springs can bend, it makes it easier for them to absorb the impact of the vehicle. As a result, the vehicle does not get damaged, and the people inside the vehicle remain fine.

2. Tires & Wheels

Everyone is familiar with tires and wheels. They sit below the vehicle on the outside where everyone can see. The tires touch the ground as they rotate on it. Whatever you’re driving over, the tires receive the impact first. You must have good treads for your vehicle to remain stable. Otherwise, the stability will be off if your tires are worn.

3. Shocks

The shocks are the shock absorbers of the vehicle. Together with the coil springs, the impact of driving over potholes and bumps is reduced because of the shocks. It is actually the shock absorbers which stabilize the springs after they experience this impact.

4. Linkages & Rods

The rods serve as metal links between various parts of the suspension. Because they’re metallic, they are quite durable and should stay strong for as long as you own the vehicle. Unless you get into an accident, you should never need to replace the rods.

5. Bushings & Bearings

The bushings and bearings are what secure the rods to the various components that are linked together by them. The components can perform twisting and sliding movements because of the bushings and bearings.

6. Frame

The entire skeleton of the suspension is the frame. It carries the weight of the whole vehicle and its components around. Additional components assist it with carrying the engine and body too. But most of the vehicle’s weight falls upon the frame. That is why certain vehicles can only handle a certain amount of load. If you start packing more items into your vehicle, the frame and suspension might not be strong enough to support all that added weight.

7. Steering System

The steering system is separate from the suspension system, but the two systems collaborate in order for the wheels to turn smoothly. The steering system even controls several of the suspension system’s components, such as the wheels, joints, tie rods, and linkages.


If you want a smooth driving experience while keeping your vehicle’s components and engine safe, then pay attention to the health status of your suspension system. If there are ever bad components in it which need replacing, then you must replace them to protect your vehicle.

How to inspect your suspension system

“I had my fork and shock serviced in October of last year, so when should I do it again?” This query has crossed the mind of every mountain biker at some point, whether they took action to answer it or not. If you ride your bike in the dirt, and I sincerely hope that you do, you’ll need to have your suspension serviced at least once every season. Soil particles can sneak past the seals and contaminate the internal parts, and simply cleaning that out and changing the oil will keep your bike’s expensive squishy bits sliding smoothly. Fortunately, the oil changing instructions for most components are fairly painless to follow.

I spoke with my friend, Lionel Saez, who has worked in the MTB suspension tuning and repair world for several years now to find out how riders can determine when we need to service our precious suspension components. The best bet is to mark service intervals on your calendar so that you can’t forget when you last changed the oil and wipers, but even sticking to the intervals isn’t always sufficient. Depending on dust and mud conditions, you may need to clean the internals more frequently. Here are some indicators that your fork or shock needs a closer look.

  • How to inspect your suspension system
  • How to inspect your suspension system

Dirty oil slowly draining on the left, and seals soaking in fresh oil on the right.

  • It feels dry. The internal tube of your fork (stanchion) or shock should always be a little bit “greasy,” and if it appears dry you will need to open it up, clean it, and replace the oil and seals.
  • The fork or shock begins to feel harsh, and loses small bump sensitivity. This is due to added friction in the system.
  • The rebound and compression don’t seem to affect anything. Added friction also reduces the effectiveness of the system’s adjustments.
  • For rear air shocks, bubble noise or little to no action from the rebound adjustment can indicate there’s air in the oil, and the shock needs to be serviced.
  • The fork or shock is losing large amounts of air or oil. This is typically caused by a damaged seal.

How to inspect your suspension system Coil sprung suspension requires less maintenance than air. Photo: Fast Suspension

Service intervals for most modern suspension

Service intervals are not an exact science. How you ride, the type of trails ride, and the weather all play a part in the story. The recommended service intervals are more of a baseline to make sure folks don’t let their suspension go unchecked until it feels terrible, or starts eating itself.

Fortunately, I ride between 10 and 15 hours per week, depending on the season, which by some recommended service intervals would see me swapping oil and wipers every 2-3 weeks and servicing the damper cartridge on a 7-10 week rotation. Since most of that riding is on clay, free of mud and dust, I don’t do it as frequently as advised. I tend to go by many of the indicators Lyonel mentioned more than a calendar, but it’s good to know when the manufacturer recommends a partial or full service. Check the recommended service intervals below to see if your squish is due for a deeper wash.

Company and component Service interval Instructional resources
Ancillotti coil shock Full service 1 x annually Contact the builder
DVO forks and air shocks Lowers/air canEvery 50hrs, air spring/damper every 100hrs Service guide
Extreme Racing (EXT) Coil Full service 1 x annually, or 2 x annually if ridden hard through mud/dust Service manuals
Formula Selva Fork Lowers every 30hrs or 6 months, full service every 100hrs or 1 x annually Video tutorial
Cane Creek fork Lowers every 50hrs, full service every 100hrs Video tutorial
Cane Creek shock Air shocks: oil and seals 2 x annually, and fulle service once annually. Coil shocks: one service annually. Video tutorial
Fast Suspension coil Every 100hrs Service manual or video
Fox air forks and shocks Lowers every 30hrs, full service every 100hrs or 1 x annually Fork service, shock service, or Service by appointment
Fox coil shock Every 100hrs Service guide
Intend BC Forks Lowers every 50hrs, full service every 100hrs. (IBC shocks are too new to tell) Service manuals
Marzocchi forks and shocks Every 125hrs See Fox manuals
Mountain Racing Products (MRP) Lowers every 30-50hrs depending on conditions, full service every 75-100hrs D.O.C. Service manuals
Öhlins forks and shocks Lowers every 30hrs, full service every 100hrs or 1 x annually Service manuals
Push coil Inspect bushings every 30hrs, full service every 100hrs or 1 x annually Support doc
RockShox forks and shocks Lower leg/air-can every 50hrs, full service100-200hrs depending on the component Lower leg service and shock air can service
SunTour Too many components to list, but generally intervals are similar to other brands Service manuals
X-Fusion Forks and shocks Lower leg/air-can every 25hrs, full service every 100 hours or 1x annually Service info

Do you have a good way to remind yourself to service your suspension? Please share it with our readers below.

Published: September 17, 2012

How to inspect your suspension system

Suspension problems are one of the most common ailments faced by most car owners in the lifetime of their cars. But diagnosing what exactly is wrong with your suspension is the tricky part.

CarToq puts together some common suspension-related problems and tells you what you should be looking to fix if such a problem occurs. Here are some common symptoms and the likely causes for trouble.

How to inspect your suspension system

Symptom: Excessive bumpiness

The car tends to bounce up and down a lot over bumps and even on slightly undulating roads it tends to ride like a boat.

Likely cause: The first sign of a failed shock absorber is excessive bounciness in the suspension. A shock absorbers function is to dampen this up and down movement of the suspension and not let the car bounce too much. The bounce is caused by the spring action from the coil spring, leaf spring or torsion bar depending on the kind of suspension your car has.

What to check: If it’s a failed shock absorber, an easy check is to press down on the car at one side and release it. If the car bounces back up and settles, there’s no problem. But if it bounces up and down a couple of times, it’s likely that the shock absorber has failed. Visually check the shock absorber – it may have tell-tale oil leakage signs around it. The shock absorber alone will need replacement.

Symptom: Car sways from side to side

The car feels like it’s drifting from side to side after going over a bump. This is sometimes accompanied by a squeaking sound.

Likely cause: Worn suspension bushes. The suspension system has rubber bushes at most of its linkages, which tend to wear off with time. If these bushes wear down, some play develops in the suspension arms, which causes this swaying movement.

What to check: With the car raised on a jack, grab the suspension arms and try moving them. They normally should not move if you move it with your hand. If they do move, then look closely at the rubber bushes at their joints – they may be cracked or worn. The bushes will need replacement.

Symptom: Thud or rattle from front suspension

Whenever the car goes over a bump you hear a clattering rattle from the front suspension. Sometimes this also is felt as excessive vibration in the steering column.

Likely cause: Worn out tie-rod ends / ball joints. The tie-rod ends are what “tie” the steering rod linkage to the wheel hub and account for steering the car. These are flexible joints that take a lot of stress from the suspension. Tie rod ends can fail early if you turn the steering of the car often, when it is stationary and not moving, as the added force needed to turn the wheel can weaken these joints. If the tie rod end problem gets worse, it will lead to the car “wandering” on the road – moving from side to side.

A thud or rattle can also be caused from the strut mount in a McPherson strut setup (this is a shock absorber within a coil spring – common on most small and medium cars). The strut mount at the top has a rubber bush which wears off in time. This will need to be replaced.

What to check: Play in the tie-rod ends can be checked by jacking up the vehicle, holding the tie rod end and having someone wiggle the front wheel. If the tie-rod feels like it’s moving slightly in your hand, there is play in the joints. They need to be replaced.

Symptom: Car sagging or collapses on one side

A car sagging to one side could be caused for different reasons based on the kind of suspension set up.

Likely cause: If it’s a torsion bar set up – it could mean that the torsion bar has slipped in its mounting. This can be adjusted to get it to regain its normal posture. If it’s a leaf-spring suspension – some amount of sagging happens with age, with the springs losing their tension. They will need to be re-cambered (heated and bent). Sometimes leaf springs can break, causing similar symptoms, and this will need to be replaced. Coil spring, multi-link suspension set ups don’t normally sag, except when the coil springs are old.

What to check: This will have to be checked at a garage as it involves removing the whole suspension set up. One can only visually look for problems, but bigger issues can also be seen when the suspension is removed from the car – be it a leaf spring set or a McPherson strut with coil springs.

These are some of the common suspension-related problems. If you have any more, please share them with the CarToq community, who will help you diagnose and suggest fixes as well.

Has your RAM been having some suspension issues recently? Is your ride feeling a little bouncier than it once did? Hearing a noisy air compressor or one that’s running way too long? Your car’s suspension isn’t just about comfort. It’s a safety issue, too. A broken air suspension puts you and every other driver on the road at risk. You should fix your RAM suspension problems rather than ignore them.

Oh, and if you are like most and still searching for “Dodge RAM” it will interest you to know that Dodge RAM hasn’t been used since 2010! Now the vehicle is simply referred to as a RAM. Anyway, back to the article. Before running off to the dealership, let’s take a look at how you can check your truck for a bad suspension. Then, we’ll take a look at what options you have for fixing it.

How To Check Your Truck For Suspension Problems

There are a few telltale signs of a bad air suspension. If your RAM is leaning to one side or sagging in the rear, you can skip this step. You are having Dodge RAM 1500 factory air suspension problems that you should fix. The same goes if you’ve noticed your truck doing the dreaded “nosedive.” That’s when you come to a stop and the rear of your RAM lifts up while the front end goes down. This is a surefire sign of suspension damage.

However, sometimes it’s not as obvious. You might just notice that something feels off. Maybe you’re feeling potholes and divots in the road more than you used to. Or you know your brakes are fine but your car’s taking longer to stop than before. That’s when you should perform the “bounce test” to check your suspension. Walk to each corner of your vehicle and push down as hard as you can. Watch as it comes back up. If it springs back up into place quickly, that corner is fine. On the other hand, if it bounces up and down or takes a long time to come up, you’ve got a bad suspension. If that’s the case, it’s time to start thinking about repairs.

Why You’re Having Suspension Issues With Your RAM

How to inspect your suspension systemPhoto by Ruvim from Pexels

There are two likely reasons why your RAM 1500 might be having suspension problems. Neither of them has anything to do with how you drive. The first reason why is probably also probably one of the reasons why you bought the truck in the first place. The RAM is an absolute beast. Weighing in at well over 4500 pounds, your RAM puts a lot of stress on its suspension. As you put more miles on the car, many parts–including your suspension–will simply start to degrade.

The second reason, however, is where your RAM air suspension problems really get serious. Your truck came equipped with an air suspension. In its early days, this suspension did a wonderful job of holding up all that weight. You probably enjoyed the smooth ride that air suspension provided. But here’s the problem with air suspensions: they just break down eventually. That smooth ride is made possible by a huge network of interconnected moving parts and electronics. Each individual component is a chance for something to go wrong. And because these parts all work together, one part going bad can have a chain reaction across the entire system. What all this means is that when it comes to air suspensions, a breakdown is inevitable.

Your Choices To Fix Your Dodge RAM Suspension Problems

That’s the bad news. The good news is that you have a number of ways to fix your Dodge RAM suspension problems . If you take your car to the dealership, they will likely quote you a repair based on replacing worn-out components with new ones from the manufacturer. This is your most expensive option. These components are very expensive when they come from the manufacturer. Another option is to replace your worn-out air suspension parts with third-party manufacturer parts. This will certainly save you some money over the dealership. However, it’s still pretty expensive. Something like the air compressor can set you back hundreds of dollars alone.

Plus, the biggest problem still remains: air suspension parts are going to wear out. Whether it’s flexible rubber airbags that can crack and rot, or ride height sensors that simply just wear down over time, these parts just don’t last. If you replace your old air suspension parts with new air suspension parts, you can also bet that your repairs aren’t over. In fact, they’re probably just beginning. Once one part wears out you can be sure that others are on the way. It can be hard to fork out big money at the auto repair shop knowing you’ll probably be back soon.

A Better Way To Repair Your Suspension

Your air suspension headaches don’t have to go on forever. In fact, you can end your RAM 1500 suspension problems once and for all for much cheaper than you’d think. Rather than pay big bucks to fight with your air suspension for the rest of your RAM’s life, why not just get rid of the air suspension entirely? You can ditch that troublesome old air suspension in favor of a robust, long-lasting mechanical suspension. Not only that, you can do it for a fraction of what it would cost you to replace your air suspension components.

Here’s how. Strutmasters has designed a suspension replacement kit just for your RAM 1500. Rather than flimsy rubber airbags, this kit sits your car on sturdy cold-wound steel springs. Each spring and strut has been perfectly tuned and rated for your truck, eliminating the need for computers and sensors. This kit also features a module that can turn off your suspension warning light. You’ll still get a smooth, enjoyable ride that’s comparable to your old air suspension, but for a fraction of the cost. You can replace all four wheels of your RAM’s suspension for just $1,199. That’s cheaper than it would cost you to replace just one of the air springs at the dealer.

Even better? These kits are designed to be a breeze to install. You can do it at home with just a few simple tools and one hour per wheel. Not that handy? You’ll still save big on labor costs at the repair shop.

Ready To End Your RAM 1500 Suspension Issues Forever?

How does the idea of never having to worry about your suspension ever again sound? When you’re ready to say goodbye to that broken air suspension, we’ll be here. You can purchase your kit online if you know the make and model of your vehicle. Want to make extra sure you’re getting what you need? Just use our online chat feature or call to speak to one of our Suspension Experts. They’ll make sure you’re getting the right kit for you and will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

If you still have questions, we’re here to help. Just call our Suspension Experts at 866-317-1579 and we’ll be happy to make sure you get exactly what you need to get back to enjoying your RAM.

We’re here to help

The Strutmasters Suspension Experts are standing by to answer your technical questions.

Not sure if your transaction can be completed at home? Visit our Online Services tab below to see what services are available right now!

*Correction: A driver convicted of speeding in excess of a posted speed limit of 65 miles an hour by 20 miles an hour or more will be assessed 5 points, not 2 points.

Other actions taken by the MVA in response to this notification depend upon the total number of points that you have accumulated during the two-year period prior to the violation:

  • 3 to 4 points – The MVA will send you a warning letter.
  • 5 to 7 points – The MVA will require you to enroll in a Driver Improvement Program (DIP).
  • 8 to 11 points – The MVA will send you a notice of suspension.
  • 12 or more points – The MVA will send you a notice of revocation.

What options do I have if I receive a notice of suspension from the MVA?

You may receive either a Notice of Point Suspension or a Notice of Suspension.

The Notice of Point Suspension means that you have accumulated 8, 9, 10 or 11 points. However, none of your points is for a conviction of an alcohol or drug-related violation. When you receive this notice, you have two options:

Accept the suspension – In this case, you must return your last issued driver’s license to the MVA no later than the suspension date shown on your notice. If you are late in returning your license, your suspension period will be extended by the number of days that you delay. You may return the license by mail or in person to any MVA office or to the Administrative Adjudication Division (AAD) in the Glen Burnie MVA office. You should ask for a receipt if you return the license in person. If you are no longer in possession of the driver’s license, you must submit a written explanation or visit any MVA full-service branch office and complete a Certified Statement form indicating why you no longer have the license.


  • ​Request a hearing – If you would like to request a hearing to show cause why the suspension should not be imposed, you must complete and return the notice and the filing fee, within 15 days from the notice date. Details about how to request the hearing are included on the notice. Once your hearing request and fee have been received, your suspension will be held in abeyance until the hearing is completed. The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), which conducts the hearing, will notify you of its location, date, and time.
  • The Notice of Suspension means that you have accumulated 8, 9, 10 or 11 points and that at least one of your convictions is for an alcohol or drug-related violation. When you receive this notice, you may have three options:

      Accept the suspension – In this case, you must return your last issued driver’s license to the MVA before the suspension date shown on your notice. If you are late in returning your license, your suspension period will be extended by the number of days that you delay. You may return the license by mail or in person to any MVA or to theAdministrative Adjudication Division (AAD) in the Glen Burnie MVA office. You should ask for a receipt if you return your license in person.If you are no longer in possession of the driver’s license, you must submit a written explanation or visit any MVA full-service branch office and complete a Certified Statement form indicating why you no longer have the license.



    If you have not been convicted of any alcohol or drug-related violations, you have two options:

      ​Accept the revocation – In this case, you must return your last issued driver’s license to the MVA before the revocation date shown on your notice. If you are late in returning your license, your revocation period will be extended by the number of days that you delay. You may return the license by mail or in person to any MVA office or to the Administrative Adjudication Division (AAD) in the Glen Burnie MVA office. You should ask for a receipt if you return your license in person. If you are no longer in possession of the driver’s license, you must submit a written explanation or visit any MVA full-service branch office and complete a Certified Statement form indicating why you no longer have the license.


  • ​​​​​​​Request a hearing – If you would like to request a hearing to show cause why the revocation should not be imposed, you must complete and return the notice, along with the filing fee, within 15 days from the notice date. Details about how to request the hearing are included on the notice. Once your hearing request and fee have been received, your revocation will be held in abeyance until the hearing is completed. The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), which conducts the hearing, will notify you of its location, date, and.
  • ​ ​If you have been convicted of one or more alcohol or drug-related violations, you may have three options:

      ​Accept the revocation – In this case, you must return your last issued driver’s license to the MVA before the revocation date shown on your notice. If you are late in returning your license, your revocation period will be extended by the number of days that you delay. You may return the license by mail or in person to any MVA office or to the Administrative Adjudication Division (AAD) in the Glen Burnie MVA office. You should ask for a receipt if you return your license in person. If you are no longer in possession of the driver’s license, you must submit a written explanation or visit any MVA full-service branch office and complete a Certified Statement form indicating why you no longer have the license.



  • ​​Apply to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program – If you participate in the Ignition Interlock Program, your license will not be revoked. However, your driving privileges will be restricted. The Ignition Interlock Program-Participant Requirements form enclosed with your notice provides application instructions.
  • Undercarriage inspections are crucial for heavy-duty truck and bus fleets to maintain safety, comfort, and driving performance. However, relying on a manual process is time-consuming and hidden damage is more likely to be missed. A suspension and steering diagnostic system is a must-have tool for undercarriage inspections as it allows fleets to safely recreate operating conditions and find undetectable issues in less time.

    Discover the key benefits of suspension and steering diagnostic systems to upgrade your fleet’s undercarriage inspections!

    What Does a Suspension and Steering Diagnostic System Do?

    A suspension diagnostic system combined with a steering diagnostic system, like the VIS-Check: Road Simulator, tests undercarriage components of vehicles under harsh operating conditions and finds otherwise undetectable issues. It comprises shaker plates, a hydraulic jack, and an automated process to recreate road conditions.

    The system has a small footprint and is adaptable to any shop or facility. It’s able to inspect a variety of undercarriage components:

    • Worn Tie Rod Ends and King Pins
    • Spring Pins, Shackles, and Hangers
    • Worn Bushings
    • Shock Absorbers
    • Loose U Bolts
    • Air Bag Integrity
    • Drive Train Problems
    • Loose Wheel Bearings
    • Worn Yokes/Center Bearings
    • Loose Exhaust Mounts

    If any part of the undercarriage is damaged, then the vehicle will be less safe. Plus, undetected issues can turn into expensive problems. With the VIS-Check: Road Simulator, you can safely recreate road conditions and easily pinpoint issues to maintain and extend vehicle performance.

    Advantages of Diagnostic Systems for Fleets

    The best way to ensure an accurate and timely undercarriage inspection is to use a suspension diagnostic system, and when checking the maneuverability, safety and handling of a bus or truck there is no match to using a reliable steering diagnostic system. With The VIS-Check: Road Simulator you get both to bring you numerous advantages, such as efficiency and lower costs — see how your fleet will benefit from a diagnostic system!

    Automates undercarriage inspections

    Make your business more efficient with automation. A suspension diagnostic system creates a repeatable inspection process, which increases productivity and improves results consistency.

    Detects hidden issues

    Uncovering broken, worn, or damaged undercarriage components are critical for safety and lower your vehicle operational costs. Keep your vehicles in optimal condition by making it easier to find hidden issues.

    Shortens service times

    Time is money, and a lengthy inspection process cuts into your bottom line. Manual inspections require lots of experience and extended training. Invest in a suspension and steering diagnostic system to shorten service times and improve efficiency.

    Improves safety

    A steering diagnostic system is vital for ensuring vehicle safety as it allows technicians to examine its performance under harsh road conditions. It also identifies ride issues and reduces driver fatigue, leading to safer rides.

    Saves on labor and vehicle costs

    The VIS-Check: Road Simulator only requires one technician, reducing labor costs while boosting productivity. In addition, a diagnostic system lowers vehicle operating costs since you can detect and repair issues, thereby extending tire life and fuel economy.

    Minimizes breakdowns

    When a vehicle has a roadside breakdown, driver safety is put at risk and productivity comes to a screeching halt. Keep your fleet and business humming along with a suspension and steering diagnostic system that bolsters vehicle operation and maintenance.

    Level-Up Your Fleet’s Operations

    A suspension and steering diagnostic system is vital for heavy-duty fleets for many reasons, from improving vehicle performance to lowering operating costs. Easily check for hidden issues and test undercarriage components with an automated process, ensuring your technicians don’t miss anything that could potentially endanger safety or disrupt your operations.

    Ready to Optimize Your Fleet? Contact Us Today for Pricing and Features of the VIS-Check: Road Simulator diagnostic system!

    The United States developed the air suspension system during World War II specifically for heavy aircraft. The original purpose of air suspension was to save weight with a compact construction.

    How to inspect your suspension system

    How to inspect your suspension system

    The United States developed the air suspension system during World War II specifically for heavy aircraft. The original purpose of air suspension was to save weight with a compact construction. Back then, air suspension systems were also used in other aircraft and some heavy trucks to achieve a self-leveling suspension. This would ultimately result in a vehicle with an axle height independent of the weight of a vehicle’s cargo.

    Ultimately, the air suspension system offers several benefits and drawbacks for drivers who rely on larger trucks and vehicles to carry heavy loads.

    What Is an Air Suspension System?

    An air suspension system is a style of vehicle suspension that’s powered by an electric pump or compressor that pumps air into flexible bellows that are typically made out of a textile-reinforced type of rubber. Additionally, Pro Car Mechanics describes air suspension as a replacement to the leaf suspension or coil spring system with airbags composed of polyurethane and rubber. A compressor inflates the bags to a certain pressure in order to behave like springs. Air suspension also differs from hydropneumatic suspension because it uses pressurized air instead of pressurized liquid.

    What’s the Purpose of an Air Suspension System?

    In most cases, air suspension is used to achieve a smooth and constant driving quality, but in some instances, sports suspensions feature an air suspension system too. Similarly, air suspension replaces a conventional steel spring suspension in heavier vehicle applications, like trucks, tractor-trailers, passenger buses, and even passenger trains. Air suspension has also become popular in low-riding trucks like this gorgeous 1982 Dodge D200 Camper Special.

    What Is Electronically Controlled Air Suspension?

    According to the company now known as Dunlop Systems and Components, at the start of the 1990s, Dunlop developed and installed the Electronic Controlled Air Suspension (ECAS) system on the 1993 Range Rover Classic and again on the Range Rover P38A. The United Kingdom-based company developed the ECAS to include several key features:

    • Vulcanized, heavy-duty rubber air springs at each of the vehicle’s wheels
    • An air compressor in the vehicle’s trunk or under the hood of the vehicle
    • A storage tank for compressed air, which allows you to store air at around an average of 150 PSI
    • Valve blocks which direct air to the four springs from the storage reservoir through a set of solenoids, valves, and o-rings
    • ECAS computer that communicates between the vehicle’s main computer to calculate where to direct air pressure
    • Air pipes connecting from the storage tank to the air springs that channel the flow of air throughout the suspension system
    • A desiccant-filled drier canister to keep the internal recesses of the system dry

    The electronically controlled air suspension also features height sensors that are based on sensing resistance in contact with the terrain on all four of the vehicle’s corners to provide height reference for all corners. Additionally, further advancements are beginning to feature some Electronic Control Units (ECUs) that are able to fit under the vehicle’s floorboard, making air suspension more widely featured in everyday driving.

    The Benefits and Drawbacks of Air Suspension Systems

    According to Future Marketing Insights, the total value of the air suspension market at the end of 2017 was around $4.3 million. So whether it’s a manual or electronic air suspension system, the benefits can greatly improve the ride of the vehicle. Take a look of some of the benefits of air suspension:

    • More driver comfort due to the reduction in noise, harshness, and vibration on the road that can cause driver discomfort and fatigue
    • Less wear and tear on the suspension system due to reduced harshness and vibration of heavy-duty driving
    • Trailers last longer with air suspension because the system components don’t take on as much vibration
    • Air suspension reduces the tendency of short wheelbase trucks to bounce over rougher roads and terrain when the vehicle is empty
    • Air suspension improves the ride height based on the load weight and a vehicle’s speed
    • Higher corner speeds due to air suspension being better suited to the surface of the road

    Air suspension increases the transport capabilities of trucks and trailers by providing a better grip that levels the entire suspension. An air suspension system can also be adjusted for feel, so drivers can choose between a softer feel for highway cruising or a harder ride for improved handling on more demanding roads.

    In the case of hauling heavy loads, air suspension offers more consistency and keeps all wheels even. The air suspension system keeps trucks level from side to side, especially in cases where cargo is difficult to level. This results in reduced body roll when turning corners and curves.

    Even with the benefits of an air suspension system, Driving Tests New Zealand suggests several drawbacks. Some of these disadvantages that so and so reports include:

    • The initial costs of purchasing and installing an air suspension system — air suspension can also sometimes reach three times the cost in repairs as a leaf suspension system over 10 years’ time
    • Fuel overheads for running compressors for occasionally pumping air to the correct pressure
    • Fuel efficiency can suffer from the heavier weight of air suspension over the weight of leaf suspension
    • An air suspension system’s vulnerability to air leaks can result in malfunctions

    Some of the drawbacks of air suspension systems are because of some of the mechanical issues they can be vulnerable to. Several of the common issues with air suspension systems that can require repair include:

    • Rust or moisture damage from the inside that can lead to the air struts or bags to malfunction
    • Failure of the air suspension tubing connecting the air struts or bags to the air system
    • Air fitting failure resulting from initial fitting or infrequent use
    • Compressor burn out due to air leaks in the springs or air struts from the compressor constantly engaging to maintain the proper air pressure

    Even with these common mechanical problems, the benefits can far outweigh the drawbacks.

    Asked by JohnMcLaugh Apr 06, 2010 at 05:10 PM about the 2003 Lincoln Navigator Premium 4WD

    Question type: Maintenance & Repair

    How Do you shut off the check suspension light after you replace the air suspension system

    23 Answers

    derekpeters2010 answered 11 years ago

    I cant quite remember how we took care of that on my Navigator. I know when we ordered our conversion kit from Strutmasters it came with instructions on all of the install procedures and the ride light. Strutmasters has great customer service and they helped me when I had any issues with my kit. I would call them. Good luck.

    stevekantercool answered 10 years ago

    Are you saying that you converted to springs, or repaired the air bag system? If you repaired the air bag system, contact the dealer where you purchased the parts. If you converted to springs, contact the distributor that you purchased the conversion kit from. When I convert Navigators, I just put a piece of black electrical tape over the “air bag light”.

    SLAGGBLASTER answered 10 years ago


    jimboknows answered 9 years ago

    Or better yet, just buy the kit from Monroe. The kit has everything you need and cost $240. Strutmaster wanted $700. It rode very good after conversion.

    Trevor answered 9 years ago

    i agree with jimboknows the kit from monroe 2 springs and 4 shocks (front coilovers to compensate for the air springs) you get all sensatrac shocks for a lower price then if you had bought them sepratly and only take a couple hours in the driveway. bam your done and you dont need to be a mechanic either. ahaynes or chilton manual on changing springs n shocks and anyone can do it

    jimmyarango answered 8 years ago

    Here are the instructions on how to disable the ck suspension warning light.

    James answered 8 years ago

    To Mr I’m better than everyone else because I keep wasting money on replacing my air shocks. Springs are way more reliable and safer.

    Ed answered 7 years ago

    I have had mine for over 7 yrs 102,000mi. the key is wipe down the bag periodically with silicon or tire dressing to moisturize the rubber and prevent dry rot. Once or twice a year fully extend the suspension and wipe the grime away and reapply! Simple task. I plan on converting to lower and enhance with performance springs. the airbags handle like grandpa’s station wagon!

    Martha answered 7 years ago

    Why does air supenion keep saying off

    obiomato answered 7 years ago

    I replaced bag and strut , solenoid but front passenger works but goes down when parked Where do I find Monroe conversion kit for 240.00

    Air_Tech answered 7 years ago

    There’s a big difference between the older 1998 system and the newer 2003 system. Not just in design, but in price. Remember the old saying. “you get what you pay for”? That definitely pertains to this subject. If you look at the pic, you’ll see one of the kits recommended earlier. and it’s NOT Strutmasters. Btw, to kill the “check suspension” message on a 2003, you’ll need a suspension light cancel module. also available here: Suspension-Conversion-03-06-p/0306navp.htm

    How to inspect your suspension system

    Ty answered 6 years ago

    You do not need a module or to spend money. You can clip the power line at the module or leave the solenoids plugged in (without the air hooked up)

    Sprint_3202 answered 5 years ago

    can a 03 expidition run on a rear air system only

    comet2 answered 5 years ago

    I replaced mine with Air Ditcher springs and shocks. Much cheaper and to get the light off I just turned the air switch back on up under the right front kick plate.

    Vandura_3317 answered 5 years ago

    TOOLS NEEDED. 1. 7MM Socket ratchet or screwdriver style 2. flat head screw driver 3.flash light 4.optional small mirror it helpful to look at the plugs if you don’t want to remove half of the dash board first, turn off the suspension switch and negative ground on the battery. remove the center top dash panel. you can see the suspension module, it’s on top of the radio. but even if you remove the radio you can’t access the plugs, because the plugs of the module is at the back. just cut that green wire that you can see on the white plug. Note: it’s the “green” wire from the white plug. don’t be fooled by others saying it’s the gray plug. there is no gray plug there, only black and white. and you’re done once you cut that green wire, secure both ends with electrical tape. Don’t forget to turn on the suspension switch, that way you still get to use the steering assist feature.

    Nate answered 4 years ago

    After a lot of digging for the answer to the aforementioned question, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to disable the notification is to steal the old solenoids from the old air shocks and plug the electrical wire back into them and zip tie them out of the way and switch the system back on

    GuruWHFWS answered 4 years ago

    Does anyone know the plug and wire color for a 2005 Navigator? It changed.

    LTCSignature answered 3 years ago

    2004 Lincoln Town Car Signature; I replaced air shocks with Monroe 90004 coil springs and rear shocks; solenoids reattached without air line and zip tied to frame inside plastic bag; suspension switch turned back on and no dashboard light, however, air compressor pump continues to operate; how do I stop it without harming other auto components?

    Dan answered 3 years ago

    I have left the old solenoids in and yes the check suspension did go off, but now the air compressor continues to turn on over and over again. How do I fix this issue without a short sided “disconnect the fuse” type of answer?

    Warren answered 3 years ago

    Idk what year yours is but here’s the way to do it on an 05

    hzwfrf answered 2 years ago

    You can modify the AIR BAG COMPRESSOR RELAY to trick the computer. The relay is located directly above the compressor. The relay has 4 terminals. Two are large male terminals and there are two smaller terminals. The computer needs to see the relay ‘control’ side resistance ( the small terminals). If one of the large terminals is removed or ‘bent over’ the compressor will not get power to turn on. The computer still thinks it has control. You still need the air bag solenoids connected at each corner so that the computer sees that resistance also.

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    If you’re hauling heavy loads or own a luxury vehicle but have noticed things seem a bit off, you may have an air suspension failure. The equipment that once provided the extra support to tow larger trailers or perhaps just glide over bumps can cause your ride to be less comfortable, on an angle or even dangerous when this happens. Here’s a look at some failures that your air suspension might be dealing with if you notice the ride just isn’t what it used to be.

    CompressorHow to inspect your suspension system

    The compressor is the heart of your vehicle’s air suspension; as such, it’s the most prone to failure. Under normal circumstances, the compressor keeps the system inflated, but over time it can wear out from being overworked or running more than it’s supposed to. The best way to spot a faulty compressor is if your vehicle is sitting lower than it normally would. With lower pressure provided to the air springs, the suspension itself will droop and the car will sit lower to the ground. The compressor may eventually lift the vehicle up to the correct height, but at some point it won’t be able to build enough pressure to counter the weight of the car.

    Air Springs

    The other essential component in an air system is the air springs. The rubber seals inside the springs can wear out over time or the rubber air bags can crack, leaking air out of the system and causing the suspension to malfunction. You’ll notice a less-than-comfortable ride, or your vehicle may even be visually crooked. Aside from that, another indicator is hearing the compressor running more than normal as it tries to keep up with the air that’s leaking out of the system as you drive. Do not let a leaking air spring go for too long, as it will eventually wear out the compressor as well.

    Air Dryer

    The compressor draws air from the atmosphere and compresses it into the system. As a result, it can also take in moisture suspended in the air. All air systems have an inline dryer that removes moisture, but if this fails, water can corrode seals and moving parts and cause them to deteriorate. While this type of damage isn’t something you’d feel when you drive, you can see it upon visual inspection of the lines and other components. If you spot rust or corrosion, you may have a problem with the air dryer.

    Air suspension systems provide extra-smooth handling and can help with towing/hauling ability of your vehicle. But, like any other part on a car, they can fail over time. With some careful visual inspection and assessment of the overall ride and stance of your vehicle, you can spot issues early and get them repaired before they become bigger problems.

    Check out all the steering and suspension parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on air suspension failure, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.