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Automotive Q & A

Suspension Inspection

Question: When should you have your vehicle's suspension inspected?

Answer: There are many things to look for to determine if your vehicle’s suspension system needs to be inspected. The first and most obvious sign is leaking shocks. If your shocks are leaking, your shocks or struts (depending on what you have on your vehicle) must be replaced. Another easy way to find out if your suspension system should be inspected is to determine if it is bouncing or swaying excessively. To do this, you can drive down a familiar road and see if your vehicle bounces more than usual. You can also perform the bounce test. The bounce test requires you to bounce each corner of your vehicle a few times, and after you let go, the vehicle should bounce only once and then settle. If your vehicle settles after one bounce, then your shocks and shock absorbers are good. If your vehicle continues to bounce, your shocks and shock absorbers may be worn and should be inspected. Bottoming out and nose-dives are also good signs of worn shocks and shock absorbers. There are also several other signs that will let you know your suspension system should be inspected. These signs deal with mostly your sway bar. First, the easiest sign is when your vehicle sways too much when you are taking turns. Second, when you are passing an 18-wheeler or if one is passing you, your vehicle will sway from the 18-wheeler’s crosswinds. The third occurs when turning; when this occurs, your vehicle is difficult to steer, and you have to overcompensate for excessive swaying. Any of these signs can mean that your sway bar is loose or damaged and must be inspected. Your sway bar’s bolts that connect the sway bar to the vehicle should also be occasionally checked to determine their condition. Even if you do not encounter any of these common issues, experts say that you should have your vehicle’s suspension system checked every year or every 12,000 miles.

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