Steering and suspension are two different systems in your car that work together. The suspension system supports the weight of your car which allows you to ride smoothly and have stable road control when you drive. The steering system on the other hand provides directional control which allows you to steer and control your car.
How does the steering and suspension system work?
The steering column and pivot joints connect the steering wheel to the suspension system. This allows the steering wheel to control the car without changing the angle of the wheel.
Your vehicle's suspension and steering systems are responsible for maintaining directional stability, comfortable driving conditions, and overall driving performance. The steering and suspension also help you maintain control of your car at all times.
The suspension system converts the forward energy from a road crash into vertical energy that is transferred to the vehicle's frame. Suspension components, such as coil springs and shock absorbers, help cushion the impact of this road force.
Although individual suspension components may vary, all suspension components will weaken over time due to the stresses applied under normal driving conditions. Likewise, off-road and rough-road driving can wear out suspension components faster.
What are the common causes of steering problems?
If your steering wheel sticks or is hard to turn, there could be an issue with your steering system. Here are the most common steering issues that may cause problems to your steering system.
1. Low or leaking power steering fluid
One of the signs that you're having low power steering fluid is when you have difficulty turning the wheel. One of the signs that you have low power steering fluid is when your steering wheel makes loud, shrill noises.
You should also check under your vehicle and see if there are stains. The steering fluid might be leaking from your car and it's best if you can confirm it right away. If you do find a leak, contact an expert mechanic from an auto repair in Kapolei to check the origin of the leak.
2. Failing steering rack mount
If your car wanders from left to right and there are grinding noises when you use the steering wheel, these should tell you that your steering rack is bad. You should schedule a steering inspection if you're experiencing this type of problem with your car.
3. Busted or worn out power steering belt
The power steering belt makes sure that you are able to use power steering when needed. When your power steering belt is damaged or worn out, you'll hear a grinding or squeaking noise coming from the engine and it will be difficult to turn the wheel. If it's broken or worn out, it may stop the water pump from circulating coolant through the cooling system which can cause the engine to overheat.
4. Bad strut bearings or tie rods
Strut bearings or tie rods are important to your steering system. In fact, you can't steer your car without tie rods. It serves as the pivot point between the steering rack, steering arm, and steering wheel. They help move your wheels when you steer and make turning possible.
If your tie rods are damaged, this can cause uneven or excessive tire wear. You'll know this when you feel a vibration or shaking sensation in your steering wheel.
What are the common causes of suspension problems?
The suspension system in cars is usually sturdy and resilient but problems do occur over time. Other than helping you have more control over your steering, it also creates friction between the road and your car, and absorbs and reduces shock from the road so you don't feel every bump while driving.
That being said, it's best to know the common causes of suspension problems. Here are some of them:
1. Poor wheel alignment
If your tires are out of alignment, they'll tend to drag to the side which will force you to keep a hard grip on your steering wheel. This can have a bad effect on your brakes and handles and fuel consumption and may compromise your safety on the road.
2. Bad shocks or struts
If you're driving with failing shocks or struts, you'll lose the ability to handle and control your car. Your car may bounce excessively or perhaps sway abruptly when making a turn. It will make you feel like you're out of control when hit by a crosswind.
3. Damaged springs
If your car has a damaged or collapsed spring, you're going to have a bumpy ride. It can cause sagging and noise and affect the alignment angles of your car. It will also be difficult to control your car especially if there's an emergency.
4. Failing ball joints
If you hear clunking noise or if you're having drifting steering, it may be because your ball joint is broken. This can seriously affect your steering and suspension. If your car's ball joint fails completely, your wheels might fall off the car which can be very dangerous.
5. Damaged control arms
Failing ball joints can result in the disconnection of the steering knuckle which means losing control of the vehicle. Worn-out arm bushings can create clunking, wandering steering, and loss of control of your car.
How do you know when your steering has problems?
Your steering system is not one of those parts that can swiftly deteriorate without any notice. It almost always provides you ample time to notice when something is off.
Don't disregard the warning signs. Ignoring them could lead to a system failure, which would have an effect on you and the other drivers on the road. Among the steering issues are:
1. Difficulty turning the wheel - If you have trouble using your power steering, your steering system is busted. There may be a leak in the steering fluid because it usually helps you in controlling the wheels with ease in every turn.
2. Vibrating steering wheel - If you feel a vibration on your steering when you drive, there could be a problem with the steering wheel or alignment. This vibration or pulse is not normal and you should let a mechanic check your vehicle.
3. Loose steering wheel - If your steering wheel is not as tight and sturdy as it was before, your steering rack might be worn and therefore won't hold its position. It's best to have your loose steering wheel checked by a professional.
4. Car wanders or pulls to one side - As mentioned earlier, a failing steering rack mount can cause your vehicle to wander from left to right.
5. Screeching or grinding noises - A busted or worn-out power steering belt often causes the steering wheel to screech or make grinding noises. Turning the wheel can be a struggle when this happens.
How do you know when your suspension has problems?
Here are the most common suspension system problems that you have to look out for in your car.
1. Car pulls to one side - This could be the result of incorrect wheel alignment. When this happens, the car will drift in one direction when the steering wheel is released and the steering wheel doesn't normally return to its original position.
2. Feeling every bump on the road - It's normal to feel bumps on a rough road but when you feel it on a regular basis even on an even road, there could be issues with your shocks and struts. You'll know it because it feels like you're bouncing every time you hit a bump on the road.
3. Uneven car levels - Damaged springs can cause one corner of your car to sit lower than the opposite side. Other than sagging, it can also cause noise as you drive, and may be difficult to control your car in certain situations.
4. Difficulty in steering - When you struggle to steer your wheel, it's actually a sign of a suspension problem. Your power steering fluid may be low or perhaps there's a leak in your power steering rack. Whatever it is, it will cause your fingers to slip or make it difficult to hold onto the steering wheel.
Now that you know everything there is to know about steering and suspension repair, it’s best to find a trusted steering and suspension repair service near you. After all, the only thing that you can DIY is to diagnose and identify the problems. Fixing and repairing those problems may require you to hire the best auto repair and maintenance services there is.
Knowing how the steering and suspension system works allows you to discover right away if there's something wrong with it. Every bump in the road that you feel, every vibration in the steering wheel, or noise in the engine will give you an idea that something's not right.
As a car owner, it’s one thing to know your car has issues and another to seek the help of professional auto repair services like Car Geeks to solve them. Book an appointment right away to experience the best auto repair service for your car!