The steering and suspension systems of your automobile are high-wear items. The steering parts are typically held together with soft rubber bushings that will dry rot and deteriorate with age. The ball joints and tie rod ends also require a lot of relubrication to endure excess miles and can take a beating. For these reasons, you should make regular checks of your steering and suspension parts for your own safety. Below, we have listed the 7 steps to check out the entire system yourself.
1: Purchase the Right Tools
Before you can start on an inspection, you will need the right tools to get under your vehicle. Investing in a high-quality 3- or 4-ton automotive floor jack will save you money on repairs and can even be used for oil changes. Yet, in order to safely carry out repairs under your vehicle, you will need more than a strong floor jack. The seals on these jacks can leak, causing them to suddenly fail. Therefore, you should invest in automotive jack stands to secure the load above you.
Always work on a flat and even concrete surface or asphalt. You don’t want your car rolling away and slipping off the jack or stands. A socket set of 1/2″, 3/8″, and 1/4″ drives are all important for automotive repair work. You should also invest in a large 1/2″ drive breaker bar, screwdrivers, a creeper, and a shop light.
2: Obtain Factory Repair Information
You can’t really assess problems with your vehicle’s suspension and steering systems unless you have the factory repair manuals or factory data. Most manufacturers are publishing limited access to data online. This means that you can pay a small fee to browse through the factory repair information for a day. If you plan on replacing any parts yourself, you’ll need the technical instructions to do it correctly.
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3: Check Steering Components for Play
Once you have your vehicle safely jacked up and secured on jack stands, you can get underneath it with your creeper and a shop light to see what is going on. The first thing you should do is pull on the wheels to see if there is any play in the steering. If they move around, this can indicate that the ball joints, tie rods, or bushings are worn.
While tugging at the parts, inspect the rubber covers and bushings for any obvious cracks, tears, grease, or signs of damage. Everything in your steering system should be tight to provide you with crisp and accurate steering. At Mechanic Black Label Automotive GC, we have the years of experience to know what amount of play is acceptable.
4: Rock the Vehicle
One of the easiest tricks to test the suspension is to rock the vehicle up and down on each corner. It is believed that the car will bounce if the shocks are bad in many vehicles. This is not an absolute truth because some vehicles with softer suspension systems may have more play in the suspension travel than others. However, as a good rule of thumb, a vehicle that rocks up and down when you press on it probably isn’t stabilizing itself when you go over road bumps and indicates worn or damaged shocks.
5: Inspect Shocks for Leaks
You have to remove each wheel, one at a time, to get a good look. If the shock is bad, it may have hydraulic oil leaking from the seals where the rod enters into the shock absorber. If the dust boot is damaged or the rod is rusted, this makes it easier for particles to damage the seals and makes the presence of a leak more likely.
6: Check the Springs
You should also check the springs to see if they are rusted or damaged in any manner. A lot of older Ford vehicles were notorious for broken and rusted out rear springs of McPherson struts. You can also visually inspect leaf springs by looking for heavy rust scaling and deterioration that can weaken their resistance.
7: Road Test It
If you aren’t sure how your suspension is supposed to feel, rent a brand-new vehicle and drive around for a while. This is the best way to compare how worn your suspension is and whether you need replacements even if it is hard to spot the specific damage. If your vehicle handles like a boat and seems to roll a lot around the bends and swerve, this indicates suspension problems.
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