Car Suspension Problems? 10 Most-Common Issues & Fixes

Your car suspension is a critical system that helps to keep you safe and comfortable while driving down the road. It can have many issues that diminish the ability to soak up the bumps in the road and drive safely without complications.

In this article, we’ll identify the 10 most common issues with suspension and outline how to fix each issue.

If you have a lowered car, check out the common problems with lowered suspension to help diagnose issues and their fixes.

#1 – You Hear Noises From The Suspension

Your suspension is made up of many components that are held with fasteners and supported with bushings. Fasteners should be tight to manufacturer specifications, and you shouldn’t hear any noises from them being loose.

Bushings are meant to support the components and isolate vibrations. You shouldn’t hear metal-to-metal contact at the bushings.

If you hear any suspicious noises that sound like metal-to-metal contact, loud clunking, or a thud when you hit bumps in the road, it is time to understand where the noise is coming from.

How to Fix It

Start investigating why you are hearing strange noises. You can lift your car on jackstands safely and start checking where fasteners are holding components like control arms and anti-roll bars together.

If you find any fasteners loose, you need to tighten them back to manufacturer specification with a torque wrench. If you find bushings that are worn out, they should be replaced. They will cause noise but can also affect the handling of your car negatively.

#2 – You Feel Excessive Bouncing While Driving

As you hit bumps on the road, your car should not excessively bounce up and down as you continue driving. The suspension should compress and rebound from the bump and slowly return to normal driving.

How to Fix It

Excessive bouncing is caused by a shock absorber or strut not doing its job. They are dampers that should absorb the bumps and dampen the bouncing.

Each shock/strut has internal valving that moves through a viscous fluid to reduce movement and control the bouncing. A good absorber should stop bouncing within three up/down cycles.

If you press down on one corner of the car and it bounces more than three up/down repetitions, the shock or strut needs to be rebuilt or replaced.

Most original shocks and struts are sealed units that cannot be repaired or rebuilt. If you have an aftermarket unit that is designed to be rebuilt, you may be able to send it to a specialized repair shop that can rebuild the unit before you put it back on.

#3 – Your Car Rocks Back And Forth

Your car rocking back and forth is like riding a seesaw up and down. It’s a combination of the front and rear absorbers not doing their job of limiting movement and damping the bumps as you drive.

You may find the rocking to and fro to be slightly nauseating.

How to Fix It

If your car rocks back and forth with reduced damping, both the front and rear dampers are not doing their job well. They are either low on fluid producing less than ideal movement or they have worn out and need to be replaced.

You can test each damper by pressing down on the car and allowing it to rebound. If the car oscillates up and down more than three times before it stops then that damper needs to be replaced with a new or rebuilt unit. Y

ou can test all four dampers in this manner and replace those that are no longer performing well.

#4 – Your Car Wobbles Side-To-Side

Wobbling is an uncontrolled movement of your car tipping side-to-side repetitively.

Your dampers should stop a wobble from occurring, and if your car feels like it’s swaying side-to-side the dampers are going or have gone bad.

How to Fix It

Checking for a wobble is similar to the front-to-back motion scenario. One or more of your dampers isn’t controlling the movement and reducing the side-to-side oscillation.

Check each corner of the car for excessive wobbling and replace or rebuild the dampers as needed.

Bad bushings can also contribute to or be the cause of wobbling, so be sure to give each bushing an inspection while you are checking the dampers. You may need to lift the car on jackstands for a better inspection.

#5 – You Feel Excessive Weight Transfer When Braking or Accelerating

You should feel a slight change in the weight of your car when you brake hard or accelerate quickly. Your suspension springs should resist the movement and limit the amount of weight shift caused by braking or accelerating.

If your car leans forward excessively under braking or leans rearward under acceleration, your springs may be fatigued from age.

How to Fix It

Fatigued springs that can’t support the weight of your car should be repaired or replaced. Some springs can be removed and re-shaped back to the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) specification.

If your springs can’t be repaired, they should be replaced with new units that will properly support your car while driving.

#6 – You Feel Steering Wheel Judder Or Heavy Steering

If you feel a judder like a vibration or heavy steering, it can indicate that one or more of your suspension bushings could have failed. Heavy steering could have a dead spot where the most resistance is felt through the steering wheel.

How to Fix It

Failed bushings should be replaced. You will need to place the car on jackstands and disassemble the components until the bushing can be removed and replaced.

Most cars use a rubber bushing from the manufacturer for the least vibration to be transmitted to the passenger cabin, but you may decide to upgrade to polyurethane or Delrin bushings for a performance car.

They can last longer in performance applications, but they will transmit more noise and vibration than their rubber counterparts.

#7 – You Find A Leak Under Your Car

Shock absorbers and struts are all sealed dampers that contain a viscous fluid. When the seals start to fail, they will leak the fluid out onto the ground. This fluid can pool below your car and indicate that there is a potential leak to investigate.

How to Fix It

Leaking seals on your shocks or struts will only allow a small amount of fluid out onto the housing unless there is a major problem.

Take your hand and wipe the body of the shock or strut around the area where the seals reside. If there is an oil-like fluid, the seals are leaking.

You can remove the shock or strut and have them rebuilt or replaced depending on the model.

#8 – Your Car Tires Are Wearing Unevenly

Your car tires should be worn evenly across the tread if the suspension is in good condition and the tires are properly inflated.

If you see uneven wear, such as the inside of the tires wearing out faster than the outside edge, it can indicate the suspension has worn out components or bushings.

How to Fix It

If your tires do not have the proper pressure, they will either wear the center of the tire tread quickly or the outside edges quickly.

Overinflated tires will have a rounded tread profile that wears the center of the tire tread quickly. An underinflated tire will wear out the edges of the tread quickly.

If your tire tread shows either of these wear patterns, check that the tires have proper air pressure in each tire.

If the tire pressures are where the manufacturer recommends, then you may have loose components, worn-out bushings, or the alignment settings could need adjustment.

The easiest way to check for loose components is to put your car on jackstands and inspect the suspension for loose fasteners or broken components.

You can also check each bushing for its condition and replace those that are worn out. The alignment settings will need to be verified at an alignment shop. They can also check for loose fasteners, broken components, and worn bushings.

#9 – Your Suspension Rods Have Rusted Or Pitted

The rods inside shocks and struts are treated with chromium on the external surface to prevent corrosion. These rods can become pitted with corrosion over time and that corrosion can cause leaks from the struts and shocks.

How to Fix It

The pitted corrosion can cause the shocks to lose fluid and increase the resistance for bump absorption. Most shocks and struts are not serviceable for repairing this corrosion, so they will need to be replaced.

#10 – Your Car Sits Lower On One Side

Your car should sit even from side-to-side. If you hit a curb or a large bump, you could have cracked or broken a suspension spring, shock or strut.

This can only affect one corner of the car, such as just the right front or the right rear rather than both front and rear on the right side.

How to Fix It

The easiest way to find a cracked or bent component is to put your car on jackstands on a level surface and visually inspect each component for cracks or other damage.

You can use a measuring device like a tape measure to roughly measure the length of each component, whether the car is on the ground or suspended in the air, to know if something is different from one side to the other. Each component should be similar in length.

Once you have found the reason why your car sits lower on one side, you can repair or replace the components.

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