The suspension system is all of the parts that connect the vehicle to the road, while the steering system, simply put, is everything that makes the car respond to the driver’s directions through the steering wheel. These two systems work together to ensure that your drive is smooth and safe.
There are many components that make up the suspension system including:
- Wheels and Tires
- Shocks and Struts
- Bushings, Bearings and Joints
Springs work together with shocks and struts to balance the car and help absorb the shock of two surfaces coming together, in this instance the road and the tires.
Shocks And Struts
Shocks and Struts do more than contribute to a smooth ride. In fact, their primary purpose is to help you maintain control of your vehicle. The key role of the shock absorber is to ensure that the vehicle’s tires remain in contact with the road surface at all times, Shocks performing at 50% effectiveness adds approximately 12 feet to your braking distance. Are you leaving enough distance between you and the car in front of you? Here are a few signs that your shocks are going bad.
- Poor Steering Response
- Vehicle front end excessively tilting forward or instability when braking
- Cupped or uneven tire wear
- Excessive vehicle bounce
- Vehicle swaying or leaning on turns or when changing lanes
A Sway Bar, also known as a stabilizer bar, controls the body roll of the vehicle during turns or on uneven road surfaces. It connects opposite wheels through a series of links. An indication that these may be going bad is difficulty handling during a turn, a lack of stability and rattling or clunking noises while driving.
Bushings, Bearings & Joints
Throughout the suspension system, there are many different connection points that link all of the different parts together allowing the vehicle to move in the desired direction. The frame of the vehicle is connected to the wheels by the control arms. The main purpose or the control arms is to control the movement of the vehicle. At the end of the control arm is a ball joint. The ball joints, work similar to the joints in your body and allow the up and down or side to side movement. Ball joints are then connected to the steering knuckle, which also acts as a connection point to transfer movement. The wheel bearing is attached from the knuckle to the wheel. The wheel bearing allows friction-free movement and rotation of the hub assembly and thereby provide smooth tire and wheel rotation. As with most parts of the suspension, any of these parts going bad you will notice difficulty handling during a turn, rattling or clunking noises while driving or uneven tire wear.
The steering system has 3 components
- the steering wheel, shaft and steering column
- Steering gears
- Linkages and rods
The purpose of the steering gears is to change the rotary motion of the steering wheel into linear motion. Most cars today use a Rack and Pinion steering system although some vehicles still use a Gear Box. The rack and pinion is an enclosed system surrounded by many seals. Problems can occur when the seals fail and leak fluid. Some indications that your rack and pinion is in need of repair would be fluid leaks, difficulty when turning, or loud clunking noises when turning.
Linkages And Rods
In order for the vehicle to move in the correct direction, the rack and pinion need to connect to the wheels and tires to indicate the correct direction. This is done through long metal rods called Tie Rods. If tie rods start to fail you may notice clunking when you turn, looseness in the steering wheel or uneven tire wear.
If your vehicle does not have a rack and pinion system, but rather a gearbox, then this functionality is managed by the idler arm, pitman arm and center links
Power Steering System
The power steering system reduces the effort the driver needs to exert on the steering wheel to change direction by using an external power source to assist in turning the wheels. Due to the higher weight and larger tire size of most newer vehicles, it would be extremely difficult to maneuver a car at lower speeds without power steering assisting.
The power steering system consists of the hydraulic fluid, power steering pump, hoses and lines that connect to the rack & pinion. It is important to keep your power steering fluid full and clean. Not doing so will not only cause it to be very difficult to maneuver your vehicle but could also damage the other components in the system, such as the rack and pinion. We recommend changing your power steering fluid every 30,000 miles.
Our Power Steering service includes adding a cleaner to loosen and dissolve build up, evacuation of the current fluid, and refill with manufacturer recommended fluid and conditioner.