A lot of focus goes on the engine of a car, but the suspension and steering are just as important if you want to turn the car and reach your destination as comfortably as possible.
The suspension system attempts to iron out all of the uneven bumps in the road by absorbing the various shocks so that you and your passengers don’t feel them inside the vehicle; while the steering system ensures that there is a fast response between you turning the steering wheel and the axle acting accordingly by turning the wheels.
Every car has a number of different springs that compress when you go over a bump in the road. The role of these springs is to absorb the movement, keeping the vehicle level at all times whether you’re going straight ahead or around a bend in the road.
Like most car parts and components, the suspension and steering systems can start to show signs of wear and tear over time. .
In this guide to suspension, steering and the various parts involved in the two systems, we will help you to understand more about the systems, how they work together and the various signs to look out for relating to wear or damage.
If road surfaces were always flat then there wouldn’t actually be any need for a suspension system, but over time even those that don’t have drains and tree roots causing bumps will start to wear causing an uneven surface.
When a car comes across a bump in the road, the wheels roll over the surface and hold the vehicle onto the tarmac while the suspension absorbs the shock and reacts accordingly. A large bump, for example, will bring the wheels – and vehicle – up, and the shock absorbers in the suspension system will keep the weight in a central position, thereby helping to keep the car on the road.
In addition to having their own series of independent tasks to cope with, the suspension and steering systems work together to stop the car from rolling when going around a corner. Over the years, as these parts and systems have become more technologically advanced, the number of cars that roll has reduced significantly, with suspension systems working by lowering on the side that the car is turning towards, taking the strain and holding the car onto the road.
What makes up a suspension system?
There is far more to a suspension system than just the shock absorbers of course. While they are one of the most important parts, there are also bushes, springs, anti-roll bars and cross members that either come as standard or that can be upgraded to improve the performance of your vehicle.
Suspension bushes are fitted at the joint between the suspension and the chassis of the vehicle, taking the strain as the system does its job and preventing the body work from being put under additional pressure.
A cross member is something that can be added to a vehicle in order to improve its stability. In order for a car to handle well in the first place it needs to have a solid and reliable base. Some chassis’ twist with the car and this can cause it to roll around, but a cross member can be added underneath the vehicle to stabilise the body allowing the suspension system to work at its optimum level for improved comfort.
To see if your suspension system might be showing signs of wear there are a few things that you can do at home. Firstly, lean down on the rear of your vehicle and if it bounces more than twice (without you applying any additional pressure), then it might be a sign that the shock absorbers and struts need to be replaced.
Other signs of wear or damage to your suspension system include uneven or excessive tread wear, perhaps on one side or one particular tyre. This could indicate that the suspension on one side, at one end or on one particular wheel has been damaged or worn.
Another common sign is actually noticeable when you are driving the vehicle. If you turn the wheel and you can feel your car drifting to one side while you turn the other way, your suspension system might not be working sufficiently enough to keep the weight centralised.
What makes up a steering system?
Many drivers assume that your steering wheel is connected to the wheels. If you turn it left, the wheels and the car then go to the left. It’s slightly more complicated than that though!
The majority of steering systems, regardless of the make or model, are made up of several similar – or even identical in some cases – parts. It starts with the steering wheel, which is connected to the steering system, which is connected to the track rods, which are connected to tie rods, which are connected to the steering arms which actually turn the wheels from side to side.
Of course, a lot of modern cars feature power steering which pumps fluid around the system, helping the turning process to work more efficiently with the minimum amount of effort from the driver. A lot of older models don’t have power steering and drivers are often forced to almost wrestle the steering wheel to make the car turn.
For more information on suspension and steering systems and parts, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Euro Car Parts team. Our experts will be happy to advise you on the best parts for you and your car, regardless of the make and model, and in many cases we can even dispatch products for next day delivery in the UK.