STEERING AND SUSPENSION
The steering and suspension system on your vehicle is responsible for maintaining comfortable riding conditions and driving performance. The steering and suspension system also helps drivers remain in control of their vehicles at all times. The suspension system converts forward energy created by bumps in the road into vertical energy that travels up into the vehicle frame. Suspension system components, like coil springs and shock absorbers, help to dampen the impact of this road force. While the individual components comprising each suspension system may vary, all suspension system components will weaken over time through stress applied during normal driving conditions. Similarly, off-road driving and erratic driving can wear down suspension components more quickly. Regardless of your driving preferences, we have the necessary equipment to identify and correct any issue plaguing your steering and suspension system. Our staff is trained to inspect the steering and suspension components in order to determine whether your service will entail a minor adjustment or a replacement
BALL JOINT REPLACEMENT
The suspension system allows your tires to maintain constant contact with the road, especially on uneven surfaces like bumps and potholes. Ball joints are ball-and-socket joints located between the control arm and the steering knuckle. Ball joints act as the pivot point between the wheels and the rest of the suspension system. They are designed to allow for movement in two planes at once while providing ease of rotation in those planes. They allow a vehicle’s suspension system to move up or down while the wheels turn left or right. Vehicles with shocks have upper and lower ball joints, while many vehicles with struts have only lower ball joints. Some ball joints are load-bearing and will wear faster than normal ball joints. As an important suspension component, ball joints are designed to experience wear and tear, often in the form of friction. Like all suspension system components, ball joints have a maintenance schedule that can help prevent unexpected repairs or replacements.
INNER TIE ROD & OUTER TIE ROD REPLACEMENT
Regardless of the type of steering system in your vehicle, you use inner and outer tie rods. As an important part of your vehicle’s steering and suspension system, tie rods act as the link between your vehicle’s steering system and the steering arm, which is attached to the steering wheel. When you turn the steering wheel, the steering arm moves the front wheels through the steering system. The inner and outer tie rods connect to the steering arm in order to move the wheels of your vehicle. In the common rack-and-pinion steering system, the inner tie rods connect to the steering rack while the outer tie rods connect to the steering arms. The tie rods make steering and turning possible by moving your wheels in the desired direction. Without properly functioning tie rods, the steering mechanism would no longer operate as intended. Because inner and outer tie rods play such a significant role, replacing tie rods as necessary is important for overall vehicle maintenance.
Shock absorbers are components in your vehicle’s suspension system that help your tires remain in contact with the surface of the road. They dampen the impact of road force and absorb the rebound of springs and other suspension components. Front and rear shocks are designed to adjust to driving conditions, like bumps, potholes, and sudden maneuvers. They also reduce bounce rate, sway, and brake dive or acceleration squat. Modern day shocks are velocity-sensitive, which means that the faster the springs and other suspension components are moving, the more resistance provided by the shocks. Hydraulic shocks convert kinetic energy from the springs into thermal energy that the hydraulic fluid inside each shock absorbs and dissipates. When the suspension system bounces, hydraulic fluid is forced through holes inside the piston. This slows the compression of the piston, thereby slowing down spring and suspension movement. While hydraulic and gas shocks are the most common types of shocks used on vehicles today, some vehicles also use electronic and air shocks.
While the function of shocks and struts is very similar, the biggest difference is in how they mount to your vehicle. Shocks function in addition to other suspension components, while struts are designed as a pivot point for the steering mechanism. Struts behave as a dampening device that absorbs excessive bounce. The strut assembly combines coil springs, spring seats, strut bearings, and shock absorbers into one working unit. The steering arm or steering knuckle is also included in some strut designs. Struts use a piston to absorb high lateral loads. The spring seat and strut bearing allow the shock to pivot with the front wheels and the steering mechanism. Struts and accompanying suspension components help push tires back into place when one leaves the road. Overall, struts work in conjunction with the rest of the suspension system to help stabilize the vehicle while maintaining a comfortable and safe ride.
Wheel alignments help ensure your tires are angled correctly—level with the ground, pointing straight ahead, and parallel to each other—so they can maintain straight-line tracking. Proper alignment angles will help you maximize the life of your tires. In addition, the handling of your vehicle will be considerably easier. Wheel alignments are arguably the most important aspect of wheel and tire maintenance. Three angles promote proper wheel alignment: toe, caster, and camber. Toe is the measurement between tires. Your tires should be in equal positions and parallel to each other. Caster, or the angle of the steering pivot, permits the wheels to turn along with the steering wheel. Camber is the angle of the wheel, which should be perpendicular to the ground. Four-wheel alignments are an important part of extending the life of your tires, because misaligned tires inevitably lead to poor tire performance and uneven tread wear.
Wheel alignments are a particularly important step in overall tire and wheel maintenance. The purpose of a wheel alignment is to ensure your tires are pointing straight ahead, perpendicular to the ground, and parallel to each other so they roll at the right angle. Properly aligned tires will help you get the most out of your tires, and vehicle handling will feel considerably easier. When it comes to wheel alignment, three angles contribute to proper alignment: camber, caster, and toe. Camber is the angle of the wheel, which should be at 0° in order for the tire to be perpendicular to the ground and not cause uneven wear to the outer edges. Caster is the angle of the steering pivot, which allows the tires to turn with the steering wheel. Toe is the measurement between tires so that they are parallel to each other. Keeping all three angles in sync will provide for better performance.
The primary function of your vehicle’s suspension system is to provide structural support while maintaining comfortable riding conditions. The suspension system helps your vehicle’s tires maintain firm contact on the road at all times by compensating for bumps, potholes, and sudden undulations. Suspension system components like coil springs, leaf springs, torsion bars, shocks, and struts all help to absorb bounce, shock, and unexpected motion from the surface of the road. Without a fully functioning suspension system, your vehicle will be harder to control. Because regular wear and tear takes its toll on your suspension system, the scheduling of routine repairs and an understanding of the signs of an impending service are an important part of suspension system maintenance. For example, experiencing unusual movements over bumps or through turns are signs that your suspension system should be inspected by a staff of professionals. When you suspect suspension system problems, please give us a call or contact us.
SWAY BAR LINK REPLACEMENT
Connecting the wheels on opposite sides of the vehicle is a stabilizer bar called the sway bar. The sway bar is charged with controlling “body roll” by distributing the weight of your vehicle to both sides of the suspension. When your vehicle moves through a turn, the sway bar keeps the vehicle level by minimizing body roll through the transfer of vehicle weight to the outside wheels. It also maintains solid contact with the surface of the road through the compression of the suspension components on the inside wheels. Sway bar links are a crucial component in your vehicle’s suspension system. The sway bar links are what connect the suspension to the sway bar and transfer the force of motion from the wheels to the axles. When the vehicle turns or corners, the sway bar end links pull on the bar to resist body roll while stabilizing the force of motion and the weight of the vehicle.