How to inspect your car’s suspension

Driver conducting a tyre health check on his white vehicle by running his hand around the wheel to check for damage

A car’s suspension is there to maximise friction between the road and the tyres. This allows good steering ability, excellent safety and ensures that you and your passengers are comfortable.

Signs of a worn suspension

You can usually tell when there is a problem with your suspension by the way it drives. Pay attention to whether your ride begins to feel rough. Components of your suspension may wear out over time so if your ride isn’t as smooth as it once was, it’s likely that there is a problem with it. Along with a rough ride may come creaks and squeaks as the suspension fights to manage any bumps in the road. Pay attention to how your vehicle feels when you turn. If it pulls towards one side or makes strange noises, there may be a problem.

Another thing that you can do to see if you have a problem with your suspension is to brake harshly and see if the nose dips when you stop. Your suspension may find it difficult to keep your car level when you brake abruptly. Brake quickly in a safe area and pay attention to the nose of your car. If it dips down when you brake, it could indicate poor suspension. During most situations, your suspension should be able to keep your car fairly level.

The last thing that you can do is to look to see if your vehicle sits level. Make sure your car is parked on even ground and walk around it to assess how level it looks. If one side of the car looks higher than the other, this could suggest that there is a problem with your suspension.

Inspecting your suspension

Examine your strut mounts and shock absorbers by locating them under the hood of your car. They should be above each wheel and be secured down with bolts. Ensure that the fasteners are not covered in rust or are loose. If they’re not secured properly, they won’t be able to function correctly.

Measure the height of the empty space between the top of the tyre and the bottom of the wing of your car. This will give you an idea as to whether there is an issue with your suspension and what side of the car the problem lies. The measurements should be fairly equal but a slight difference in height is fine. If they’re not equal, there is a chance that the lower side is where the problem is being caused.

Have a look at the bolts that secure suspension components. Make sure that they’re tight and have no excessive rust. Use a screwdriver to poke at a bolt that looks a bit rusty. If bits of rust come off, the bolt will need to be replaced. Tighten any bolts that appear to be loose.

The Bounce Test

The most common and easiest way to tell if there’s a problem with your suspension is by carrying out the bounce test. Start off with parking your vehicle on firm and even ground. An uneven ground will give a false outcome as it will affect how the vehicle sits and cause the suspension to have a different response to what it usually would. Push down on the front of your car firmly. It should bounce back and settle into place after one bounce. If the vehicle rocks up and down several times, it’s a sign that your shock absorbers may have worn. Repeat the test on the rear side of the vehicle. A bounce test is not 100% effective. However, with a mix of your driving observations and the points above, you’ll be able to get a general idea.

If you have any concerns about your vehicle’s suspension, be sure to book an appointment with one of our trusted garages. You can book online today using our quick, easy and free online booking tool!

Libby Simmons

Libby has been working for BookMyGarage writing articles, creating newsletters and handling the social media platforms. She works closely with ex-mechanics and subject matter experts to provide weekly blogs: essential advice on how to care for your car, need-to-know news and developments in the motoring world and helpful tips on how to cut the costs of running and maintaining your car.