Why Does Your Car Drive Strangely and Make These Noises?
Q: What are the most important things about the suspension?
A: Shocks (Struts), Tie Rods & Ball joints are some of the most critical factors in your suspension system, the ball joints are what connects your steering knuckle with the control arm. The tie rods help your steering by pushing and pulling the front tires. Shocks and struts give you the ride-ability you need while driving. So, if you have bad shocks and hit the brakes, your front-end will dive down as opposed to if you have good shocks then it doesn’t.
Q: how would you know if your ball joints are going bad?
A: Some clues are squeaks and knocking noises. If you turn the wheel and you hear a squeaking sound, go over bumps and hear a squeak, or you hear a knocking noise when you turn.
Q: If the ball joints are bad what else would it cause?
A: Wear on tires. For example, when you have a bad ball joint, and you are driving down the road and the ball joints move, and your tires change direction you might drift on the road a bit. It makes a big difference in controlling the vehicle.
Q: What about the Bushings and the Tie rods.
A: Tie rod and control arm bushings are what allow for the movement of your vehicle to go up & down. However, the bushings can get worn out and will cause it to move from side to side and give you shaking steering.
Q: how would you know if the tie rod is bad?
A: By getting it inspected. You need to put it in the air and see if you can’t move anything without the system moving. If there is a bad tie rod, the tires can wiggle back and forth while it’s up in the air. Basically, it’s a ball that sits into a socket and rotates in the socket. They tend to wear out on roads with bumps and the potholes. Every time you hit a bump, it wears the ball, and with more and more wears it eventually causes the ball to start moving around in the socket.
Q: What are some of the signs of bad struts?
A: Excessive bouncing. When going over bumps, it would feel rough instead of feeling smooth.
Q: What are some extreme problems the struts can cause if they're bad?
A: The biggest issue is with the braking performance if you hit the brakes and the struts are good the vehicle stays straight and leveled and stops. If you have bad struts and hit the brakes, the car will dive down in the front while lifting the rear and that will affect the brake-ability. If your rear end is up while your front tires are braking real hard, it will cause excessive wear on the brakes and also affect your ability to stop fast while keeping your car under control. If you hit the brakes, you want to stop where you are at, if you have bad shocks you can dive one way or the other and wear out your brakes causing you to travel a longer distance before you stop.
Q: Are those things that should be checked out during an inspection?
A: Yeah, they usually have a mileage rating similar to the tires on your vehicle. When you buy tires, there are 100,000 miles or more before they should be replaced. There is typically a rating on all the struts, and your manufacturers should have recommendations on when to replace them. Struts are generally 60,000 - 100,000 miles. It just depends on the manufacturer - It's all measured by mileage they, and not all parts are expected to last.