The gloved hands of a Cincinnati mechanic are working on a car's suspension.

Steering, Suspension, or Both? What’s the Issue?

Posted on by kingsquicklane
Categories: Suspension & Steering

Vehicles can often be reliable and strong machines; however, they can also be delicate. Nobody likes bringing their vehicle in for repairs, but once you notice that the suspension and steering of your vehicle are not performing as they should, it simply becomes an inevitability. As with all motor-powered machines, time and usage mean vehicles aren’t invincible. Vehicle repairs will vary in complexity but having the ability to identify potential problems with your vehicle can make a massive difference.

There’s an extensive list of repairs that are considered commonplace; some of these issues can be easily identified by the driver simply through using their vehicle as they normally would. For example, when commuting with your vehicle, you may notice some discrepancies with how your vehicle is performing, namely regarding suspension and steering. Both of these aspects are vital to experience a smooth and reliable ride, but how exactly are issues identifiable?

Both your vehicle’s suspension and the responsiveness of your steering are crucial components to what makes a ride not only feel smooth, but what makes it a safe one as well. Sometimes the issue won’t be so apparent but can still generally be a risk if it is not fixed. This is why routine checkups are important for vehicle owners to ensure a properly working machine.

Steering is part of a vehicle’s suspension, meaning it can sometimes be difficult to determine what exactly is malfunctioning when a problem occurs. Some issues regarding steering are directly linked to the suspension, while some steering issues are separate. The fix can be as simple as adding more power steering fluid, or it can be as complex as suspension repairs. Most importantly, it’s in your best interest to learn and recognize when your steering and suspension are performing abnormally in order to gain a better understanding of how they both work with one another.

A wheel well is shown, exposing the suspension and steering mechanisms on a car.

Suspension Troubles

There are a few key symptoms that may indicate a damaged suspension. The first thing to recognize is that the suspension of your vehicle acts as a central hub on which your vehicle is built. This essentially means that any potential damage to the suspension can and typically will result in a very non-responsive vehicle. Unless you purchased a used vehicle with suspension problems out of the gate, you’re likely to be fully aware of how smoothly your vehicle is supposed to drive.

Bouncing is a strong indication of a worn-out suspension, and this is most prevalent when driving over rougher terrains or going over a speedbump. If your car bounces, you’re running a high risk of exposing your vehicle to further damage, meaning even more costly repairs. One of the key ways a bouncing problem is remedied is by replacing your vehicle’s shock absorbers. Once a shock absorber begins malfunctioning, whether it be due to wear and tear or a manufacturing error, it begins to leak a thick fluid. It becomes crucial at this point to bring your vehicle to a mechanic to prevent any further damage and for your safety.

Driving around with a leaking shock absorber can have drastic effects if driven over a speed bump, for example. You’ll likely notice when this occurs, and replacing your shock absorber will result in a transformative difference in terms of overall stability. Vehicles that utilize struts rather than shock absorbers should seek immediate repairs if you can hear the struts emitting an audible noise when driving on rough terrains or going over speedbumps.

Should you notice your vehicle isn’t steering as well as it used to, this can be due to a vast number of reasons not solely limited to your suspension. However, unresponsive steering can easily be a result of damage to your suspension. Another way suspension damage can affect steering is through uneven wheel alignment. When the vehicle is produced, the wheels are aligned to the suspension in a specific way. But as time passes and the vehicle is driven on rough terrain or maybe even gone over a pothole once or twice, the factory alignment can be disturbed, which will affect steering accuracy greatly.

What Indicates Steering Issues?

A view over the shoulder of a driver shows a man driving a car.

There are plenty of reasons why your vehicle’s steering may not be performing up to par. As previously mentioned, one of the fixes to this issue can be as simple as adding steering fluid to its reservoir. Diagnosing this problem comes down to feel and occasionally sound. If your steering wheel squeaks, it’s likely due to a low power steering fluid level.

While rotating your steering wheel, you’ll see a noticeable difference between low fluid levels and normal ones, as it’ll become much smoother. However, should this occur again, it’s important to investigate the bottom of your vehicle for leaks as the containers that hold the power steering fluid may sometimes form a leak. There is no real reasonable DIY fix to this issue, and bringing your vehicle to a mechanic should be your next step.

Another issue that is associated with a rough grinding sound is when your power steering belt comes loose. This belt is a vital piece of equipment when it comes to steering a vehicle, and after continued usage, it’s not uncommon for these belts to eventually loosen up, resulting in a not so pleasant steering experience. This is something many mechanics deal with regularly, so the chances are you won’t have trouble finding a mechanic who offers it within their list of services. The power steering belt can be tightened and therefore usable again, but in some cases, the belt cannot be salvaged and must be replaced entirely to fix the problem. Getting the power steering belt fixed is very important as a damaged one can lead to more damaged equipment, including your vehicle’s air conditioning.

As mentioned above, there exist issues that many drivers may link solely to steering, but that also involve the suspension. For example, a vehicle that has difficulty staying straight and instead swerves may be the effect of a damaged suspension. This is commonly referred to as “wheel wandering” and is not only an inconvenience but dangerous too; even with your hands on the wheel, you’re running the risk of losing control of your vehicle and potentially causing a collision. A common reason this may occur is due to the struts of your vehicle malfunctioning, and this will require immediate replacement to remedy the issue. It’s understandable why many drivers may initially believe it’s their power steering itself and not the suspension, but bringing your vehicle to a mechanic is the best way to find out for sure.

Finding The Best Place To Get Repairs

You wouldn’t trust just anybody to fix your car, and surely some private mechanics offer a wide list of services, but those services typically include a hefty premium. At Kings Ford Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center, we’re looking to do things differently by offering a vast amount of services and repairs with top-notch service at a competitive price. Our list of services is sure to include the one you’re looking for, and scheduling your appointment is an easy process.

Not here for repairs? This isn’t a problem as we also offer an on-site tire shop featuring thirteen quality name brands as well as a generous three-year warranty through our available Road Hazard Coverage. Our Cincinnati shop is open six days a week, so getting an appointment with us allows you flexibility in your schedule. We look forward to your visit and assisting you in getting your vehicle back in working order.