Your vehicle’s steering and suspension play an important role in the safety of your vehicle. The steering and suspension system, together with tires, determine how your car will ride and handle. You should have both inspected at least once a year. To ensure vehicle safety and prevent expensive repairs it is highly recommended that routine wheel alignments, tire rotations, and wheel balancing be performed.
What does it do?
The suspension system connects the wheels to your vehicle's frame or body. The suspension system works with the steering system to provide vehicle control. When working properly, the suspension system smooths out road dips and pot-holes and helps maintain vehicle stability and control. The steering system transmits your input from the steering wheel to the steering components to control the vehicle’s direction.
Wheel alignment is an important part of the steering & suspension. Hoover Street Auto Repair has the latest wheel alignment technology to keep your vehicle rolling straight & true. Using lasers & wheel mounted sensors we are able to consistently perform very accurate wheel alignments.
Benefits of Wheel Alignment
Maximize tire life by having your wheel alignment checked and adjusted every year. With the very expensive, specialized tires required on many of today's vehicles you want to squeeze out every last mile for maximum value.
Routine wheel alignment also decreases premature wear of expensive suspension parts.
Rotating & Balancing Tires
To get maximum tire life your tires should also be rotated and balanced at regular intervals.
Tire rotation is important for even tread wear and long tire life. When performed at the recommended times, tire rotation will ensure that your tires wear evenly and prolongs useful tire life. Tire rotation ensures maximum tire life by evening the different tire wear rate from front to rear axles and preventing the front tires wearing out before the rear tires. This prevents you from having to buy a complete new set before all four are evenly worn out. Tires should be rotated at regular intervals which can be conveniently done during every other regular oil change. For most vehicles this would put rotation at about every 5000-7500 mi.
Tires should also be balanced every 18,000 miles (every third or fourth oil change) or about once a year. Wheel balancing decreases wear of suspension parts, shock absorbers and struts. Tire balancing pays for itself in the long run. Hoover Street Auto Repair has a very accurate computer tire balancer to keep your car rolling smooth and decrease expensive repairs.
Normal Wear and Tear
Steering and suspension components normally wear out over time and require replacement. How long suspension and steering components last depends on the type of vehicle, how and wear it is used, and if regular maintenance is performed. Regular inspections and maintenance are critical to maintain vehicle safety and decrease repair costs.
Computerized tire balancing machine allows us to rotate and balance tires with the precision required for vehicle ride comfort and safety
Factors that affect suspension wear include:
- Vehicle type;
- Driving habits;
- Road conditions;
- Operating conditions;
- Type of steering and suspension system;
- Frequency of regular maintenance such as chassis lubrication and wheel alignment.
Steering and Suspension Wear Symptoms
- Uneven tire wear;
- "Loose" steering feeling;
- Noise and vibration while cornering;
- Wandering or poor directional stability.
Common Tire Wear Causes
- Tire wear resulting from wheel alignment problem. Usually caused by suspension and steering part wear or damage caused by impact or collision. The inside or outside of tire is worn off at a very noticeable angle.
- Tire wear caused by over inflation (tire pressure too high). The middle section of tire tread is forced outward by excess pressure and wears at higher rate than outside edges.
- Tire wear caused by under inflation (low tire pressure). The most common problem we see during our Annual Vehicle Inspection service! Tire can not support weight of vehicle forcing middle section of tire tread inward causing excess wear of both outside edges of tire tread.
- Tire wear caused by worn out shock absorbers or struts and or incorrect tire balancing. Worn patches on tire caused by tire bouncing on road creating high stress and excessive tire wear. Caused by either incorrect tire balance or worn shock absorbers. Often out of balance tires cause shock or struts to wear prematurely which amplifies tire bounce and high tire wear.
The most common front suspensions used on vehicles are the independent control arm and McPherson strut suspension systems (used on front wheel drive and some rear wheel drive vehicles).
Control arm suspensions are commonly used on rear-wheel drive vehicles. With this design, the shock absorber and coil spring are positioned between the upper and lower control arms. Ball joints are used to attach the outer ends of the control arms to the spindle. This type of front suspension most often uses coil springs and shock absorbers are used to dampen suspension movement.
Diagram of control arm suspension repair in Ann Arbor Michigan
McPherson strut suspension is found most frequently on compact and subcompact cars, both domestic and imported. With this type of suspension, the shock absorber, strut and spindle are a combined unit, which is supported by the coil spring at the upper end and the lower control arm (sometimes called track control arm or transverse link) at the bottom. There is only one ball joint in this design, and it is attached to the lower part of the spindle. The shock absorber is built into the strut outer casing. On some models the strut cartridge may be replaced separately. On other models the entire strut assembly must be replaced.
The purpose of the shock absorber is simply to limit the motion of the spring during compression and rebound cycles. If the vehicle is not equipped with these motion dampers, the up and down motion would multiply until the vehicle was alternately trying to leap off the ground and pound itself into the pavement.
Shock absorbers do not affect the ride height of the vehicle, unless they are pneumatic or air adjustable shocks. Worn shock absorbers can affect handling and cause excessive wear of suspension parts.
While each shock absorber can be physically replaced individually, it is recommended that they be changed as a complete set to maintain equal response on both sides of the vehicle. Failure to replace shock absorbers in sets could result in dangerous vehicle handling situations.
Signs Your Vehicle Needs New Shocks or Struts
Your vehicle may need new shocks and struts if:
- Vehicle handling - you experience a generally bouncy or rough vehicle ride; poor steering response, stiffness or noise when steering; "nose dive" or instability when braking; or swaying or leaning when turning or changing lanes.
- Mileage - testing has shown that at approximately 50,000 miles your original shocks and struts may be worn to the point of needing replacing (depending on vehicle and driving conditions).
- Visual - there are noticeable fluid leaks; if the shocks, struts or mounts look dented or damaged; or if your tires show unusual wear patterns (example: cupping).
If you notice signs that your shocks or struts may need replacing, get your vehicle inspected by one of our suspension experts.
Power steering system consists of a pump, fluid reservoir, pressure and return hoses and steering gear or steering box. The pump, which is driven by the engine with an accessory drive belt, consists of an impeller, pressure valve, and fluid reservoir. Pump pressure builds only when the engine is running. The pump impeller turns, picking up hydraulic fluid from the reservoir and feeding it to the steering gear under pressure through the pressure line. The fluid is then returned to the fluid reservoir through the non-pressurized return line.
Power Steering Maintenance
Your vehicle's power steering system operates at very high pressures, 800–2000 psi, and very high temperatures. This leads to power steering fluid (oil) breakdown over time. Fluid breakdown causes increased wear and expensive power steering repairs. Just like engine oil your power steering fluid requires periodic replacement. Symptoms of power steering problems include groaning and whining noises, erratic steering, and fluid leaks.
Since there is no power steering filter a powerful power steering cleaner is added before draining oil fluid to help clean the system and flush out contaminates. The cleaner dissolves varnish and gum buildup in the power steering system and suspends contaminates in the old fluid so they are flushed out. All old fluid is drained and system flushed with new power steering fluid for both conventional and rack and pinion steering systems. The benefit is a quieter-operating, longer lasting power-steering system.
A power steering service - or power steering fluid flush - removes harmful deposits and impurities while also conditioning and re-vitalizing hoses and seals. If your power steering is making excessive noise or not working correctly a fluid flush could prevent further damage and excessive wear leading to power steering system repair.
What We Do
At Hoover Street Auto Repair we perform the following power steering flush in Ann Arbor Michigan area:
- check power steering system for correct operation;
- inspect condition of hoses;
- inspect system for fluid leaks;
- inspect power steering pump drive belt condition;
- use cleaner to dissolve and suspend varnish and gums;
- flush and replace old contaminated fluid with new power steering fluid.
How Often Power Steering Service
Hoover Street Auto Repair Ann Arbor recommends Power Steering Service every 30,000 miles. Please check your vehicle owner's manual for factory recommended Power Steering fluid change intervals.