When we purchase a vehicle, we naturally expect them to work seamlessly. The components we associate most with a car’s functionality tend to be the engine, transmission, brakes, and electrical components.
Suspension issues can sometimes be overlooked.
Beyond general comfort, the suspension system of a vehicle is crucial for the passenger’s safety – as it ensures the tires properly maintain contact with the road to prevent loss of control.
But how do you know when you’re experiencing issues with the suspension system?
As a California lemon law attorney, we’ve seen many vehicles with suspension problems – and not all of them are obvious. In this post, we want to explain how to determine if your vehicle’s suspension system is malfunctioning, and what your options look like.
What Does the Suspension System Do?
The suspension system of a vehicle serves two key purposes.
For one, it connects the wheels to the vehicle and works to ensure a smooth and controlled ride. It does this by absorbing shock from uneven surfaces – as well as mitigating the impact of different driving conditions.
Second, the system controls the vehicle’s stability and handling – allowing the steering and braking systems to work properly. It does this by maximizing the friction between the tires and the pavement.
Additionally, the shock absorption capabilities reduce wear and tear on other vehicle parts – prolonging the vehicle’s lifespan.
Most Common Signs of a Faulty Suspension System
There are several key indications of a faulty suspension system – some are more obvious than others. Here are five big ones to watch out for.
Issues with the suspension can create a few unusual noises.
The most common ones include clunking, banging, or rattling – which can be exacerbated by driving over bumps or rough terrains.
These types of sounds can indicate problems with certain components within the suspension system, including the bushings, struts, or shocks. The longer these signs get ignored, the louder and more frequent they tend to become. If you hear any strange noises coming from your vehicle, get them inspected ASAP.
This is one of the clearest signs of a faulty suspension system. If the vehicle pulls to one side while driving, it indicates an imbalance or misalignment, which could be a sign of underlying problems with suspension components such as the control arms or springs.
Now, pulling is not always a result of suspension issues – it could be related to road conditions. If the vehicle is consistently pulling to one side, you should get it inspected.
Uneven Tire Wear
Uneven or rapid tire wear is a common symptom of a faulty suspension system.
When the suspension isn’t working properly, it creates an unequal weight distribution, which leads to certain areas on the tires wearing out more quickly than others.
You might see balding on one side of a tire but not the other, or a specific patch of the tire wearing out faster than the rest. Irregular wear patterns can wreak havoc on your vehicle’s handling and safety. If you notice uneven tire wear, it could be a sign you need to get the suspension or alignment checked.
Overly Bumpy Ride
An excessively bumpy ride is almost a surefire sign you’ve got a faulty suspension system.
The suspension system is there to absorb shocks from the road – which works to provide a smooth ride – regardless of the surface type. If your vehicle is bouncing, jolting, or failing to settle quickly after hitting a bump, there’s likely an underlying issue with the suspension system.
There are plenty of visual signs that indicate issues with your suspension system – and you don’t need to be a mechanic to notice them!
For starters (as discussed) uneven wear on your tires is a sign the alignment/suspension is off.
Arguably the most obvious sign is if the car looks to be sitting lower on one side, suggesting a damaged spring.
Another sign is fluid leaking out of the shock or strut body. This could equate to a damaged or worn-out shock absorber within the suspension system.
Lastly, you can try the bounce test. This involves pushing down on the front or back of the vehicle. If it continues to bounce multiple times – instead of returning to the original position – there are likely some issues with the suspension system.
What Happens if You Ignore Suspension Problems?
Ignoring a faulty suspension system can lead to serious problems.
Initially, you’ll notice issues with your vehicle’s stability and overall comfort while driving. If left unchecked, these issues will exacerbate and put a strain on other parts of the car. For example, uneven wear will persist on your tires – which increases the risk of a blowout.
Suspension problems can also wreak havoc on the steering system and drivetrain.
Most importantly, these problems will compromise your ability to control the vehicle, especially when turning or stopping. This can dramatically increase the risk of accidents. That said, we strongly recommend addressing suspension problems as soon as you notice something is off.
What to Do About a Suspension Problem
You have a couple of options to mitigate a faulty suspension problem.
For starters, take the vehicle to a professional to get inspected. If the vehicle is still covered under the original warranty, get in touch with the manufacturer. They will direct you to a certified repair facility.
If the manufacturer is unable to repair the faulty suspension system after a reasonable number of attempts, you might have a lemon on your hands. In California, a defective vehicle must meet the following qualifications to be ruled a lemon:
- The vehicle is exhibiting a substantial issue that impairs the safety, functionality, or value of the vehicle;
- The vehicle is covered under the manufacturer or dealer warranty;
- The manufacturer-certified repair technicians have made a reasonable number of attempts to fix the defect; or
- The vehicle has been in the shop for repairs for 360 cumulative days;
- The defect was not caused by driver error, abuse, or neglect
If you have documentation to prove your vehicle meets the qualifications of lemon law, you can seek a buyback or replacement from the manufacturer.
Now, lemon law exists across the country, but each state has separate rules of what qualifies a defective vehicle as a lemon. Check with your state’s lemon law to be sure.
Over to You
A defective suspension system is something you want to deal with immediately – as neglecting the problems can create a myriad of new problems. Hopefully, this post has provided some key insight on what to look for in a faulty suspension system, as well as what your options for seeking justice might be.
If the defect was caused by mistakes in the manufacturing process, you might be entitled to legal benefits. For questions on this matter, reach out to a local lemon law attorney – they will be happy to answer your concerns.