Most drivers are alerted to the need for suspension maintenance during tire-change over season, or during a service. An alert mechanic will notice uneven tire-wear, which indicates that one or more of these components have deteriorated to the point that the wheels no longer track along the road in a straight line. Most of us refer to this fine-tuned tracking as ‘alignment’. When tires are out of alignment, this can often be an indication that struts need to be replaced.
Vehicle suspension is what separates a car from a Radio Flyer wagon! Truck and car ‘suspension’ refers to a system of joints that literally ‘suspend’ the frame of the vehicle on four air-filled rubber tires. Ball joints, struts, springs, sway bars, steering linkage, control arms, bushings—the 30+ moving parts that make up this mechanical structure are constantly in motion as a vehicle drives. This is why suspension parts wear out comparatively quickly, and require routine maintenance.
What is a ‘Strut’ Anyway?
A strut is a general term that refers to any hydraulic piston-type assembly which provides cushioned lift to weight. Hatchback cars utilize ‘struts’ (the metal rods that hold the hatch open). Every time we load groceries or hockey gear, these ‘struts’ hold the lift-gate open. When these struts get worn out, most of us employ a hockey stick or broom handle to hold the hatchback open!
The struts that suspend your vehicle frame on its wheels are much larger than the ones that hold your hatchback open! Suspension struts are a combined assembly of shock absorbers, springs, and wheel-alignment fasteners. Although struts entirely govern a vehicle’s ability to navigate uneven terrain, this is not their only function. Struts also maintain proper ride height and alignment so the vehicle wheels track smoothly and wear efficiently.
Worn struts result in an unpredictable and erratic driving experience, due to low hydraulic fluid in the strut cartridge. The springs cannot compensate for the diminished hydraulic lift. Worn struts also mean mis-alignment of tires, which results in a feeling of fighting the steering wheel to keep the car on track. Worn struts also = prematurely worn tires. On interior Alaska roads, worn strut alignment ruins a set of tires in just a few thousand miles.
Suspension Requires Routine Inspection
The only way to stay ahead of suspension wear is to take your vehicle to a conscientious mechanic for maintenance and service intervals. At METRO, we know the rates of deterioration and decay for most cars and trucks. We notice things. We pay attention. And we know that those 30+ parts, that keep your vehicle from doing a belly-flop on the pavement, are under stress and load non-stop. We know what to look for. Let us be your mechanic. Become part of the METRO family and let us keep you aloft and driving straight!
If you think that your suspension is in need of repair or you would like to learn more about our maintenance plans, please call or fill out a contact form today.