Inspect Suspension

Your car's suspension includes steering that helps your car turn and suspension that smooths the ride.

Your car’s suspension includes steering that helps your car turn and suspension that smooths the ride.

Before reinstalling wheels and tires you also can inspect suspension, the major steering and suspension components, on your car in a matter of minutes. The steering system turns your car. Suspension is the system that helps smooth out bumps in the road. Most of these components are located behind the wheels so take a few minutes now to familiarize yourself with them and check their condition.

Steering parts include the tie rods that tie or connect the steering column to the wheels as well as the joints at each connection. Another important part is the pitman arm that translates the steering gear’s rotation to side-to-side movement.

Car Words

Steering transfers the turning movements of the steering wheel to the car’s front wheels. Modern cars typically use rack-and-pinion steering systems that use one gear across another to transfer movement. Older cars use pitman-arm steering that relies on a lever to move the steering components.

How to inspect suspension:

  • Follow the connection from the back of each front wheel to the steering column, looking at each component for obvious damage or wear.
  • Look at each joint to see if the rubber components are damaged. (Mechanical Repairs outlines repairs or you can describe the problem to your mechanic.)
  • If your car’s owner’s manual suggests lubricating steering fittings, you can do so with a lube gun (purchased at an auto parts store; instructions included).

Your car’s suspension system absorbs the bumps or shocks of the road. So the major component is called the shock absorber. It’s a cylinder with one end connected to the upper control arm behind the wheel. The other end is connected either to the lower control arm or above the wheel to the car’s frame.

A large spring absorbs some of the road’s shock. The spring may be in the shape of a coil or, on the rear of some cars, a group of slightly-bent leaves called a leaf spring. Inspecting springs typically means making sure that they are surely connected to the car at each end of the spring. A broken spring bracket can keep the spring from doing its job.

Hey, you’re getting to be quite the mechanic. In this section you’ve tackled jobs that most folks avoid. And, hopefully, you’ve discovered that they really aren’t that tough. In fact, you’re ready to take on some more maintenance.