Suspension is the system of tires, tire air, springs, shock absorbs and linkages that connects a vehicle to its wheels and allows relative motion between the two.
How to inspect your suspension system?
- Try to really "feel" yourself.A vibration felt in the steering wheel suggests a problem in the front of the car. It may be a tie rod end or a bushing in the car's control arms. Seat vibration suggests a problem in the back of the car. It may be a wheel bearing or a run out condition in a tire.
- Park the car and let it cool once you think you located the problem.Grab your gloves and safety glasses.
- Lift the vehicle if necessary.If you must lift the vehicle, put the car on a flat surface and use the proper supports. Don't rely on the jack alone to support your vehicle, and never use bricks or lumber to hold your vehicle up. Use proper jack stands and chock the wheels. Test the car's stability before you get under it. Push it, lean on it and shake it. Make sure it is solidly on the jack stands and does not move when you push, pull or shake it. Now you can get under your vehicle in the suspect area and get to work.
- Be sure to know what you are looking at.Many suspension parts can be diagnosed by grabbing or rotating the part. For example, the tie rod ends, the Pittman arm, the idler arm, and other parts of the steering linkage. As for wheel bearings, bushings, and tires, you will need to have the wheels off the ground.
- Check the tires.Tires are frequently the main culprit in these "not-so-good vibrations", due to different degrees of tire run out. With the tire off of the ground, spin the wheel and look at it head on. You may be able to see that the tire shows the above symptoms. However, you cannot always see this with the naked eye. While you have the tire in the air, grip the top and bottom of the tire. Wiggle the tire back and forth. If the wheel shows signs of play, you may have bad (or loose) wheel bearings or a bad tie rod end. You may also want to check to see that the lug nuts are not loose.
- To test the tie rod grab the sides of the tire and wiggle back and forth while watching or feeling for play in the tie rod outer and inner joints.
- The front suspension and tires should be visually inspected for anything obvious like tire damage, worn out or missing bushings, leaking shocks or struts.
- Take your car to a mechanic if you can't find anything through this basic inspection.A mechanic can use the proper diagnostic tools.