When people think of automobile performance, they normally think of horsepower, torque and zero-to-60 acceleration. But all of the power generated by a piston engine is useless if the driver can't control the car. That's why automobile engineers turned their attention to the suspension system almost as soon as they had mastered the four-stroke internal combustion engine.
The job of a car suspension is to maximize the friction between the tires and the road surface, to provide steering stability with good handling and to ensure the comfort of the passengers.
The steering and suspension systems of a car are not only important for safety reasons but also to enhance the comfort of your car's ride. The two systems are directly related to each other, which is why they are often referred to together.
Improvements in steering and suspension systems, increased strength and durability of components, and advances in tire design and construction have made large contributions to riding comfort and to safe driving in recent years
Maintenance of Steering & Suspension Systems
There is a lot of math going into the steering and suspension of your car. There are many forces and angles that have to be acted upon and maintained. If you notice any problems in the way your car steers or rides or you feel any body or steering wheel vibrations, you should have it checked out as soon as possible.
Replacing your car's struts and shocks when required is vitally important to your safety and reduces the cost of operating your car through reduced tire wear, better gas mileage and lower maintenance costs on other suspension and steering components.
Routine inspection and maintenance of your car's suspension system includes:
- Inspect shocks regularly for leaks, cracks and other damage.
- Look for vehicle bounce, sway when cornering and "nose dives" when braking.
- Check for uneven tire wear, which may indicate worn shocks and struts.
Worn struts and shocks should be replaced in pairs (left and right) and should be done as soon as problems are noted. You may be able to live with a little bouncing under normal driving but that same little bounce may cost you 30 or 40 feet in braking distance during an emergency stop. Those 2 car lengths may be the difference between avoiding an accident and being the cause of one.
Steering and suspension systems are fairly robust and generally not too much goes wrong with them. With the advent of rack and pinion steering and the use of strut suspensions, a lot of moving parts have been eliminated. But, things can still go wrong and cause a car to become hard to control. When something is wrong the very least that will happen is your tires will wear out very quickly; at most, it can lead to an accident.
As with any car problem, the causes can range from a mere inconvenience to major repair.