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How to diagnose common suspension problems

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It can be tricky to spot vehicle suspension problems, however there are some things you can watch out for.

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How to diagnose common suspension problems

You're able to enjoy a comfortable and stable ride thanks to your car's suspension system - it absorbs the lumps and bumps found in every road surface, and allows you to accelerate, brake and corner safely.

As these parts wear out over time, you may notice that the ride is rougher than usual. A worn suspension system can affect your stopping distance by up to 20%, so it's really important to get any problems checked out as soon as possible.

It can be tricky to spot vehicle suspension problems, however there are some things you can watch out for:

The overall stability of the car

If a spring in the system has sagged or broken, the vehicle is likely to be lower on one side than the other.

Park on a level surface and try the 'bounce test'. Rest all of your weight on either the front or back of your car, and pay close attention to how many times the car bounces before it stops. If it continues to bounce more than two or three times, there is likely a problem.

A bumpier ride

Does the ride feel bumpier than usual? This could be down to suspension trouble. Like any vehicle parts, the components of your suspension system will eventually wear out, and will no longer absorb bumps and shakes like it should.

When you drive over defects in the road, the springs in your suspension will compress and expand to absorb any vertical movement. The dampers, or shock absorbers, then get rid of any motion left in the spring, which stops the car from bouncing. The fluid held in your shock absorbers can sometimes seep out, which will eventually cause suspension failure. If you can, have a look at the shock absorbers (located under the car, near the wheels). If they're covered in oil, there's a leak that needs fixing.

Tyre depth

Your tyres should wear fairly evenly over time, so abnormal tyre tread can be a sure sign that something's not quite right.

If the inside or outside of your vehicle's tyre is more worn than the rest, this could be a result of a poorly functioning suspension system, or incorrect wheel alignment. View our guide to abnormal tyre wear to help identify the problem.

Poor handling

Many things can affect your car's handling and make it difficult to control, such as incorrect wheel alignment or poor steering response. With a failing suspension system, you'll notice a drift or pull when turning corners, sometimes accompanied by a knocking sound. This could be the effect of a damaged anti-roll bar no longer keeping the car stable against the force of the turn - a serious safety risk if left unchecked.

Free Suspension Check

If you think there may be a problem with your suspension, or would simply like peace of mind, book a Free Suspension Check with Halfords Autocentres. Our friendly ATA-trained technicians can service any make and model of car, and all work carried out by us is guaranteed for 12,000 miles or 12 months, whichever is sooner. Book online today.


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