The Truth About Cars » springs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 20 Nov 2014 20:06:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » springs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Piston Slap: Suspension Wear and Tear to Infiniti? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/piston-slap-9/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/piston-slap-9/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 12:32:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946522   TTAC Commentator CoreyDL writes: Hey Sajeev, I have had several questions floating around in my head for quite a while about proper suspension maintenance. My story begins a couple of cars ago when I couldn’t find answers, and ends here with this multi-part, OCD-approved question. My 09 M35x has just gone over 56,000 miles […]

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TTAC Commentator CoreyDL writes:

Hey Sajeev,

I have had several questions floating around in my head for quite a while about proper suspension maintenance. My story begins a couple of cars ago when I couldn’t find answers, and ends here with this multi-part, OCD-approved question. My 09 M35x has just gone over 56,000 miles and I’m thinking I am past due for shocks (they’re originals, I believe). After riding in a G37xS the other day and noticing how much more compliant it felt over speed bumps and the like, my awareness of the issue increased.

When I go and look at various message board/etc. sources online, seems like whenever someone has tried to ask a serious question about their suspension, some dudebro usually replies with, “Aw man just put Bilstiens on there and lower it brah.”

So my questions are of the general variety. What sort of mileage intervals can someone reasonably anticipate a need for replacing suspension components? I’m talking passenger cars here, and what parts need replaced: shocks, struts, various bushings, sway bars, control arms, linkages… how far does this list go mayne?! I know putting new shocks on won’t be nearly as effective if the bushings and struts are worn out as well.

I want to take proper care of my suspension and keep it riding correct!

Second portion:

Since all these people here at the B&B love talking used (Cadillac), usually higher mileage (Town Car) rides (including myself) (LS400), what would you recommend as far as a “suspension refresh” if someone buys a decade-old car with 100k miles or more? I know you can help us all out.

Thanks for your help.

Sajeev answers:

Let’s quickly answer Question One about suspension wear and tear, partly with your comment:

“OCD-approved question. My 09 M35x has just gone over 56,000 miles and I’m thinking I am past due for shocks (they’re originals, I believe)”

There could be a good reason for needing new shocks at this age/mileage, but it’s just not that likely.  I’m pretty frickin’ OCD about car stuff myself (see photo below) but if an Infiniti M rides worse than a (newer?) G37 with a (maybe?) more compliant wheel/tire package, I wouldn’t blame the car.  Blame the manufacturer, and do a -1 or -2 wheel/tire package like we’ve discussed recently.

More to the point: odds are the shocks are fine, but you go right ahead and test them.  Now for Question Two, using a quote from Question One:

“What sort of mileage intervals can someone reasonably anticipate a need for replacing suspension components? I’m talking passenger cars here, and what parts need replaced: shocks, struts, various bushings, sway bars, control arms, linkages… how far does this list go mayne?!”

Well, okay mayne…I’ll show you how OCD you can be:

How ’bout ‘dem Chocolate and Caramel coated Apples?

At some point a “keeper” could get stripped/reconditioned.  Because at some point all the rubber goes bad.  Or too many potholes busts up the ball joints.  And maybe the wheel bearings might be shot. And if you’re gonna spend the time/effort/money to do all that, fully addressing suspension wear and tear via 100% replacement isn’t totally stupid.

I know what I just wrote about the above photo is an illogical extreme.  But your question merits discussing all aspects. So if you live in Boston, you probably need new control arms/shocks/ball joints before you’ll need new shocks in Wyoming.  And if you drive something fragile (which these days is more of cars than we’d like to admit) with tiny tires on pristine roads, don’t be surprised if they need more replacement “stuff” than a Panther on somewhat horrible roads. (i.e. not Boston)

This is the part where we list common wear items, and let the B&B take it from there:

  • Shocks, too loose or too tight (they can gum up inside).
  • Springs, they get softer, saggier and even (sometimes) break.
  • Spring pads: the rubber underneath the springs can go bad too!
  • Control arms: changing bushings (or ball joints) here isn’t that common anymore, now it’s easier/cheaper to get a new control arm instead.
  • Tires: even if there’s plenty of tread, rubber degrades over time and ride/handling suffers.
  • Swaybar links/bushings: these tend to work very hard, but they’ll get noisy before they totally die.
  • Swaybars: check if yours are hollow.  Don’t be surprised if they are toast, especially if you live in the Rust Belt.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: Butt Draggin’ Bushings? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/piston-slap-butt-draggin-bushings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/piston-slap-butt-draggin-bushings/#comments Wed, 29 Aug 2012 11:40:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=457908   Craig writes: My daily driver for a while has been a 1988 Volvo 240 sedan with about 100K miles. I do have some nagging maintenance issues I need to address when the weather warms up. The main one is the suspension bushing, specifically the trailing arms. The car sits a little ass-low, and it […]

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Craig writes:

My daily driver for a while has been a 1988 Volvo 240 sedan with about 100K miles. I do have some nagging maintenance issues I need to address when the weather warms up.

The main one is the suspension bushing, specifically the trailing arms. The car sits a little ass-low, and it gets worse if I put a lot of weight in the trunk. I have read that this is from the bushings, not the springs and also that they are a bitch to change. It this a doable repair for a home mechanic? In the last few years I’ve replaced the master cylinder, water pump, and my proudest moment took my broken wiper motor, another broken one from the junkyard and McGuivered the two together into a functional motor.

Thanks, Craig.

(the 240 is the Swedish Panther)

Sajeev answers:

The 240 (or 940, according to the B&B’s Volvo experts) is indeed the Swedish Panther!  Who-hoo, thanks for making that connection for all of us!

I was surprised to see a control arm bushing causing the sag you described but–according to Google–it is possible! At the ripe old age of 24, do a visual on all of your bushings. Consider replacing ‘em all.  This is certainly labor intensive compared to your previous projects, but this website looks like a great big help.

With the age and low mileage in mind, quite honestly, it’s time for new shocks, springs and a lot of new rubber bushings.  They are all toast: go do ‘em all. Also consider replacing entire control arm assemblies to get new bushings in the process with less labor involved. I suspect the aftermarket for 240s can make that happen easily, and it might be worth it to you. So consider it, cost-benefit analysis style.

For what its worth, I have my independent mechanic do jobs like this.  It’s too much time for me, and my shop is worth every penny in labor cost. And I’ll do it all over again, 15-20 years from now, if needed!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Thetruthaboutcars.com Celebrates Spring Equinox http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/thetruthaboutcars-com-celebrates-spring-equinox/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/thetruthaboutcars-com-celebrates-spring-equinox/#comments Sat, 20 Mar 2010 18:18:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=349786 March 20, 2010.  Spring Equinox. Spring has sprung. How could Thetruthaboutcars.com celebrate the first day of spring 2010 better than with a concise pictorial history of springs? Apart from tires and seats (which typically have their own springs, the seats, not the tires) the car’s suspension is what protects your (personal) rear end and spine […]

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March 20, 2010.  Spring Equinox. Spring has sprung. How could Thetruthaboutcars.com celebrate the first day of spring 2010 better than with a concise pictorial history of springs?

Apart from tires and seats (which typically have their own springs, the seats, not the tires) the car’s suspension is what protects your (personal) rear end and spine from the rigors of the road. Apart from shock absorbers (which we’ll celebrate the minute we’ll find an appropriate season for shock absorbers), springs are an essential ingredient of your suspension. Springs come in three basic flavors.

The common leaf spring has been in use in cars and trucks into the mid eighties. From then on, they became an object of derision, except on heavy duty trucks, which use them to this day. The leaf spring was also called “carriage spring,” because it is as old as the horse-drawn carriage. Hence its humorous effect.

To the untrained, a coil spring seems to be the most logical choice. It’s inbred: Most of us have been created with some type of coil spring involved. (See picture left.) To remove or to install a coil spring, you need to be able to operate a coil spring compressor tool. If you don’t know how to operate it, this can have similar effects as a coiled snake. The coil spring is sometimes used in combination with the leaf spring. Or with a shock absorber inside. We’ll get to that later. There are many other coil springs in your car, from valve springs to the spring that pulls your accelerator back – or not.

Then there’s the torsion spring, that strange contraption I learned to hate when I was a young copywriter and they threw me on the Volkswagen account. Die Drehstabfeder or Der Torsionsstab is (so it has been drummed into me) basically a rod that twists along its length. It was popular in the VW Beetle, in the Porsche 356, in the early Barockengel BMW 501/502, in early Porsche 911s, and several Chrysler and GM cars. To this day, I don’t understand why one would twist a poor old rod if there are springs. To this day, they use torsion bars.

From here on, we get into more complex matters, such as coil-over-oil, (or possibly coil-over-gas, but it doesn’t rhyme). It is a combination of a shock absorber and a spring, also known as a McPherson strut. When I was a young copywriter in 1973, this was a big deal. Later, they confused me completely by combining a McPherson strut with a double wishbone suspension. At that point, I turned into a Creative Director and was above such minutiae.

This concludes our TTACesque celebration of the Spring Equinox. May the sun shine bright on you, don’t forget to change the winter tires, and  give your car a good rinse to get the salt out.

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