Have you ever asked yourself these questions:
Is it normal to feel EVERY bump on the road?
Is it okay that my vehicle is getting harder and harder to turn?
How come that my tires are wearing out too quickly?
Properly working suspension system lets you stay in control when you are on the road. Every vehicle owner should take good care of their vehicle’s suspension and steering system, they aren’t just parts of your vehicle, they are the ones responsible for providing you optimal ride comfort and maximized handling performance.
Even if used in normal road conditions, your vehicle will eventually have a reduced vehicle stability and driver control because of the wear and tear of your shocks, struts, and springs of the suspension system that weakens over time. Having worn parts of these systems may also expedite tire wear. You can avoid the possibility of premature tire wear and expensive car repairs by doing regular suspension and steering services.
When you bring your vehicle to a trusted technician or certified service facility, your vehicle should get a complete system inspection. Suspension and steering system evaluation should include but not limited to:
- Thorough inspection of all shocks, struts, and springs for any indication of wear or damage
- Replacement of worn, damaged, or missing suspension or steering components that are not performing as intended
- Other suspension repairs required to get you back on the road safely
Tip: Look for a service facility that offers competitive pricing on tires and free rotation when you purchase a set of four tires.
The vehicle’s suspension system has two major roles. First, it maximizes the friction between the tires and the road to provide good handling and steering stability, in doing so secures safety of the vehicle as it maneuvers on the road. Second, it also provides comfort and ease for the driver and passengers by minimizing the impact caused by road bumps, vibrations and even noise.
The shocks and struts are essential components of the suspension system, and have a great impact on the safety of the vehicle—driving with worn shocks and struts can be really problematic. Worn struts and shocks can greatly affect how the wheels touch the road. They can cause the vehicle to hydroplane, sway dangerously, have a gradual deterioration in performance, and compromised road holding and handling.
The suspension system is composed of several parts, including the chassis, without which the vehicle would have no structure. The springs absorb and minimize excess energy from road shocks along with the struts and shock absorbers. The springs also support the entire vehicle’s weight. Finally, the anti-roll bar shifts the movement of the wheels and stabilizes the vehicle—it helps minimize the body roll of the vehicle over road irregularities or during fast cornering.
Your vehicle’s suspension system must be in good condition. If you have worn suspension components, it will accelerate the wearing of other suspension system components. Replacement of the inadequate or worn shocks or struts will help you maintain good riding control, since they:
- Provide consistent braking and handling
- Help keep the tires in contact with the pavement
- Control vehicle sway, roll, bounce, acceleration squat, and drive
- Promote balanced and even tire and brake wear
- Maintain dynamic wheel alignment
- Minimize wear on other vehicle systems
Having a properly working suspension and steering system can give you optimal driving experience and is important for keeping safe control of your vehicle. By having a routine inspection and maintenance of your vehicle’s suspension system, you can be assured that you will have maximized comfort and control over your vehicle.
You can take good care of your vehicle’s power steering system by doing the following:
- Look for a trusted car service facility or car repair shop who can do power steering flush service.
- Have them remove old power steering fluid from the system at the manufacturer recommended intervals or when the power steering fluid becomes dark brown or black.
- Flush and clean the system.
- Refill with new power steering fluid according to your car owner’s manual.
Power steering fluid has a significant role in your vehicle’s performance since it cleans, lubricates and cools the power steering system. Without this essential fluid, the power steering will fail. If there is a power steering leak, you might not be able to turn the car with ease. This can result in unsafe driving situations, it can even lead to preventable crashes.
Caution: Brake fluid is another type of hydraulic oil. However, it is never to be confused with power steering fluid. Pouring either of them into the wrong reservoir may cause severe damage and lead to unsafe driving situations. The vehicle owner’s manual will often provide you information about the type of fluids to use for each of the vehicle’s systems. These fluids are not designed to mix with each other.
Tip: Always consult your vehicle owner’s manual first before doing any fluid checks as the owner’s manual will normally provide you with the information of these checks. It will normally tell you how and where to add fluids. If you ever notice the fluid level is low, the owner’s manual will also tell you the specific type of fluid that you should use.
Your car also needs routine maintenance and inspection of the suspension system. During the inspection and routine maintenance, the following should be done:
- The shocks should be inspected for cracks, leaks, and other signs of weakness or damage.
- The vehicle should be checked for sway and bounce when making turns.
- Inspect for uneven tire wear because it is also a sign for worn struts and shocks.
Shocks and Struts
For many people who cannot avoid driving off road, shocks and struts require maintenance more often. However, most people view shocks and struts maintenance as a process that you do not often need to worry about since they usually do not wear easily.
Since the suspension system is so vital to the proper control of your vehicle, it is important to know the most common symptoms of worn out shocks. You may not notice them right away because, like most things, these effects will slowly appear over time. However, you can easily recognize them if you know where to look.
Excessive Bounce when Driving
If you are feeling even the smallest bumps on the road because your vehicle bounces excessively, it is an indication that your shocks and struts are wearing down.
Premature Tire Wear
Premature tire wear is a red flag and is a safety risk to you, your passengers, and everyone around you. One of the most frightening experiences of a driver is when a tire blows out in the middle of the freeway. So always keep an eye on the lookout.
- Dipping or Squatting – if your front end pulls up when you accelerate, or dips when you brake, it is most likely the time for suspension repairs.
Once you begin recognizing these symptoms on your vehicle, then it is time to get your suspension inspected. In the long run, you will want to get a complete suspension inspection to make sure that no other portions of the suspension have become damaged due to neglect.
According to experts, the more you know about your vehicle, the better you will be able to take care of it. Regardless of how small knowledge you have about your vehicle, that knowledge can greatly affect its long term health. Even just the basic knowledge about your car benefiting from a power steering fluid change can make your car last longer.
The power steering makes it easier for you to steer your vehicle and helps you to be always in control. Your power steering relies on two vital mechanisms. These two vital mechanisms are called the rack & pinion and the power steering pump. Having a good understanding of how these mechanisms work together is the most important part of keeping the system healthy and can give your vehicle longer lifespan.
- The Power Steering Pump is run with the use of hydraulic pressure through a series of hoses to control the rack & pinion. Maintaining the proper level of power steering fluid and looking out for leaks are the key to making sure that the power steering pump is in good condition.
- Rack & Pinion is the system that literally turns the wheels of your vehicle. Make sure that the hydraulic pressure is in proper level, because without it an incredible amount of strain will be put on the rack and pinion, which will later cause severe damage and shorten their life.
Ultimately, these two mechanisms will wear out in the long run. Extending their lifespan can be easy if you strictly adhere to the tips we will provide you. Normally, there are symptoms that indicate issues with the power steering system, sometimes the answer can be as easy as adding a little more fluid. In many cases, the problem needs a little more maintenance and work. Here’s a few indications that your power steering system has a problem.
Symptoms of Power Steering Pump Issues
The power steering pump directs fluid from the reservoir into the steering gear, which provides the right amount of pressure to turn the wheels smoothly. There are various symptoms of a failing or bad power steering pump. If you ever notice one of the following symptoms, have the pump checked right away by a certified service facility or a professional mechanic:
- Stiff Steering Wheel – if the steering wheel is failing or bad, you will notice that the steering wheel is slow to respond or in some cases becomes stiff. If you start feeling that the steering wheel is getting stiff, that usually indicates that the power steering pump is going bad.
- Groaning Noises – These kinds of noises are the worst kind of sound your power steering pump can make. As your power steering pump continues to fail, the groaning noises will be terribly intensified. Once the power steering system fails due to the lack of fluid, the whole system can be damaged including the power steering racks and lines. If this is the case, you will eventually need to replace them completely.
- Whining Noise During Turns – Once you hear whining noise during turns or while turning the wheels of your vehicle, there’s a high probability that something is wrong with the power steering system—it’s either caused by a leak in the power steering pump or the fluid level could be low. Be mindful of the fluid level because leaving it low for too long can damage the whole power steering system. Either way, the power steering has to be inspected or replaced if needed, by a certified mechanic or a professional.
- Slow to Respond Steering Wheel – While cornering or turning a corner, if it feels like your steering feels slow to respond to the efforts you are making to turn the steering wheel, it is likely that your power steering pump is bad or failing. In addition, you may also hear a whining noise. If you ever notice these two symptoms together, have your steering pump replaced as soon as possible by a professional or your trusted mechanic.
- Squealing Noises Upon Starting the Vehicle – Although whining noises can be heard when you turn your vehicle, squealing noises are more noticeable when the vehicle first starts. They can be heard when you make sharp turns, and are more likely to be heard for a minute when you start your vehicle. If the squealing noise will come from under the hood of your vehicle, it is an indication that your power steering pump is failing or causing the belt to slip.
As soon as you hear unusual noises coming from under the hood of your vehicle, the steering is slow to respond or it feels stiff, have the power steering pump immediately checked, and if needed replaced—by a professional or your trusted mechanic. Power steering is a vital part of your vehicle and is a safety issue. Any problem or issues with it should be diagnosed and handled right away by a professional. Ideally, the mechanic should come to your vehicle’s location to diagnose and fix the problem since it is dangerous to drive with a failing power steering pump.