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VIEW SOLUTIONS TO COMMON PROBLEMS
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Operation: Suspension systems can be separated into two basic designs, solid axle and independent suspension. Most passenger cars use an independent suspension system in the front and solid axle in the rear. Solid axle designs are also found on the front of some trucks. Independent suspension systems use constant velocity or CV axle shafts sometimes referred to as half shafts on the driven wheels. Advice: Solid axles often will go their entire life without more than a bearing change, CV axle shafts wear more quickly due to the constantly changing angles of operation. The CV joints on either end of the half shaft can be changed to renew the shaft. However, in most cases it is more cost and time effective to replace the entire shaft.
Operation: The springs are responsible for supporting the weight of the vehicle. They absorb the up and down motion of the wheels keeping the body of the vehicle comparatively stationary. The three main types are coil springs, leaf springs and torsion bars. Advice: As the springs wear out, the ride height of the vehicle will drop. There are aftermarket devices designed to be inserted between the coils to restore ride height and longer mounting brackets to do the same for leaf springs, but they also stiffen the suspension causing a negative effect on ride comfort. Replacing the worn springs will result in a much more satisfying feeling for the money spent. Torsion bar type suspension systems are adjustable. Ride height can usually be restored with a simple adjustment. Recommendations: Replace worn springs
Operation: The control arms allow the springs to move up and down. They are often referred to as A arms due to their shape. Advice: Control arms generally do not wear out, however the bushings that mount the control arms are made of rubber and will need to be replaced periodically. The old bushings must be driven out and the new bushings pressed back into place.
Operation: Shock absorbers are designed to dampen the movement of the springs in an effort to keep the car from bouncing. Advice: Worn out shocks not only make for a noisy uncomfortable ride, they can cause the stability of the vehicle to be dangerously inefficient. Sudden braking or evasive steering inputs can cause a vehicle with worn out shocks to lose control. Push down hard on the fender two or three times then let go. If the vehicle continues to bounce more than one and a half times before settling, the shocks need to be replaced. Due to the harsh environment that the shock absorbers live in, it's a good idea to spray the mounting hardware generously with a good penetrating oil and allow to soak in for about 15 minutes before trying to remove them. Recommendations: Penetrating oil
Operation: Struts are designed to dampen the movement of the springs in an effort to keep the car from bouncing. Advice: Worn out struts not only make for a noisy uncomfortable ride, they can cause the stability of the vehicle to be dangerously inefficient. Sudden braking or evasive steering inputs can cause a vehicle with worn out shocks to lose control. Push down hard on the fender two or three times then let go. If the vehicle continues to bounce more than one and a half times before settling, the struts need to be replaced. Strut replacement requires special tools and a certain degree of patience. If you have never replaced a strut before, check the repair guides for the vehicle that you are working on and familiarize yourself with the procedure and make sure that you have access to any special tools before beginning the job. In most cases a front end alignment should be done after the struts have been installed. Recommendations: Repair guides
Operation: The spindle is the short stub axle that the wheel bearings ride on attached to some steering knuckles and also found on the rear of some front wheel drive cars. Advice: Replacement of the spindle is usually not necessary unless it has been damaged in an accident or deformed due to a wheel bearing failure. Clean and inspect the bearing surfaces and the threads on the end of the spindle. If replacement is needed, a wheel alignment should be done after the installation is complete.
Operation: Ball joints are used to mount the steering knuckle. They allow the steering knuckle to pivot during steering and also to move up and down with the suspension travel at the same time. Advice: Ball joints are tested in different ways depending on the type of joint and the year make and model of the vehicle. Some have wear indicators built into them. Check the repair guides for the vehicle that you are working on. Recommendations: Repair guides
Operation: The sway bar, sometimes referred to as the stabilizer bar or the anti-roll bar connects the right and left side lower control arms and acts like a spring to control the sway when the vehicle leans to one side or the other. Advice: The sway bar seldom needs replacement unless it has been damaged in an accident. The rubber or neoprene bushings that are used to mount the sway bar do wear out and are easily replaced. Most bushings are designed with a split in them for easy installation after the old one is removed.
Operation: The tires provide the vehicles only contact with the road. Advice: The type and size of the tires on a vehicle contribute greatly to it's handling characteristics. A tire with a short sidewall and shallow tread grooves is going to have less tire squirm and therefore better handling than a tall tire with deep tread grooves. In order to reduce the size of the sidewall you must increase the diameter of the wheel to maintain the correct tire height and speedometer accuracy.