Steering And Suspension

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Steering And Suspension

System Overview
Why is it important to ensure your vehicles suspension is in good working order?
Did you know that your suspension wears out gradually and you may not notice any problems until the system fails? It is important to have the suspension system checked periodically to ensure your driving comfort and safety especially if your vehicle has been driven 80,000 km or more.
Your suspension system provides steering stability and maximizes yours and your passenger comfort. Worn suspension components may reduce stability of the vehicle and driver control as well as accelerate wear on other suspension components and tires.
Your suspension system performs six basic functions that allow you to steer:
* Reduce the effects of bumps for a more comfortable ride.
* Support vehicle weight.
* Maintain correct vehicle height.
* Maintain correct wheel alignment to lessen tire wear.
* Control the vehicle’s direction when moving.
* Keep tires in contact with the road for stability, braking and control.
Warning Signs
Some warning signs for your car’s suspension:
* Do you hear rattling or thumping sounds from any of your wheels when you hit a bump?
* Does your car continue to bounce after you hit a bump or when you stop quickly?
* Are your tires wearing faster than normal or unevenly?
* Does your steering wheel vibrate when you hit a bump?
* Does your car dip when you brake?
* Does your car lean or roll to one side when you corner?
System Components
The main components of today’s suspension system are the springs, shock absorbers and struts.
Money Saving Tip: When having your suspension serviced it’s a good idea to have the “bearing / mounting plate”, and mounting bolts inspected along with other parts that are designed to protect the strut / shock such as the “jounce bumper” and “dust boot”. You’ll not only be saving yourself from paying for the same labour charges again, but you will also be protecting the investment you made in new parts.
Shocks
Shock absorbers are usually used on cars and light trucks with standard suspension systems. Shock absorbers provide resistance by forcing hydraulic fluid through valves in the piston as it moves up and down which dampen movement of the vehicles springs as they compress and rebound during vehicle travel. The amount of resistance depends on how fast the suspension moves. Without shock absorbers your vehicle would continually bounce, making it difficult to control.
Shock absorbers not only give you a comfortable ride but they help ensure all four tires stay in contact with the road for better stability and control. You should have your shock absorbers checked, by a licensed technician, if they have been driven 80,000 kilometers or more.
Springs
The springs support the weight of the vehicle, maintain ride height and absorb road shock caused by bumps or dips in the road. The coil spring is the most common and may be used at both the front and rear of the vehicle. The leaf spring is made of several steel plates of different lengths and is commonly used at the rear of the vehicle.
Ride height measurements not within manufacturer’s specifications require the replacement of springs. It is important that you replace the springs as they can accelerate tire wear, cause handling problems and wear other suspension components.
Struts
Unlike shock absorbers, struts are a major structural part of the suspension. Struts perform two main jobs. First, they act like a shock absorber to dampen the movement of the springs as they compress and rebound. Secondly struts provide structural support for the vehicles suspension, support the spring and hold the tire in an aligned position.
Struts affect riding comfort and handling as well as vehicle control, braking, steering, wheel alignment and tire wear. It is recommended that you have your struts checked by a licensed technician if they have been driven 80,000 kilometers or more.
Steering
Most of us have little understanding of how the steering system of a vehicle works, except that when you turn the steering wheel the vehicle responds by moving in the direction you want to go.
The steering system consists of a series of linkages and gears that connect the driver to the wheels. There are two types of steering systems, parallelogram and rack-and-pinion.
Today most vehicles have some degree of power assistance, which consists of a fluid reservoir and pump run by a belt.
The parallelogram steering system consists of a steering gearbox, pitman arm, relay arm and inner and outer tie rod-ends. The rack-and-pinion system differs from parallelogram as it eliminates the pitman arm, relay rod and idler arm.
Over time steering system components do wear out.
WARNING SIGNS
* Is it hard to steer? This could indicate the steering linkage needs lubrication or is damaged, or there is a problem with the power steering unit.
* Does your vehicle pull to one side? This could indicate worn steering or linkage parts, the tires are not at the same pressure, wheels are out of alignment or the brakes are dragging.
* Does your steering wheel vibrate? This could indicate the tires need balancing or worn steering parts.
* Does the steering feel loose? This could mean that steering linkage parts are worn and should be replaced.
* Does the steering wheel jerk when you turn it? This could indicate a loose steering belt, the power steering fluid is low or there is a problem with the steering pump.