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Thread: Car suspension - is it still ok?

  1. #1
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    Default Car suspension - is it still ok?

    Just noticed our loaded car looked a bit low down. The gap between wheel arch and tyre looked less than previously. We've loaded the car more in the past without noticing such an issue.

    Question i have, if a car suspension is close to failure does it drop tree car down? The car is a seat altea xl BTW. Should i go to the garage, tyre/exhaust/suspension place like kwikfit or seat garage? Would it be expensive?

    It was our light car camping setup too! The empty car today is a little higher but it's about 2" against 1" gap.

    Any opinions?

  2. #2
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    Maybe the fuel tank is full too?
    It should sag as the weight compresses the springs.
    You could have two broken springs of course, but it is highly unlikely both break at the same time.
    It sounds it is fine.

    No, if it is close to failure you will not see it. The suspention consist of springs snd shock absorbers.
    If a spring breaks it will sag. If a shock absorber is worn out, the car will move up and down several times after you depress a corner and release it, or feel kangaroo like on the road.

    Always a good idea to check the tyre pressure!
    Last edited by Janne; 10-04-2017 at 13:24.

  3. #3

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    as Janne said - its normal if you've loaded the car heavily (unless you have self levelling suspension like air springs). As long as the wheels don't keep rubbing the arches you should be fine!

  4. #4
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    The only reason is that the load was not even half the load we had in the car when we went on the first holiday after getting it. The car is 9 years old and we've had it 4 years with relatively little go wrong with it apart from an accident repair from one of the most respected auto body repair shops in our area. The car got lifted onto 2 wheels when parked up by a truck. The car was repaired fully to the insurance company's satisfaction, we were ok with it too.

    The load on the weekend was not much more than a large shop. It never dropped anywhere close to this much in the past. That's why i am asking here. If conditions are the same or less severe but the reaction is worse then in my mind something has changed. Plus it seems to bottom out a lot more often when loaded or empty. It's been like that for over a year now but never looked a problem like now, nor did the mot/service result in any issue there.

    I trust your opinion just it seems strange there's a clear difference lately without a reason why.

  5. #5
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    My alfa romeo had self levelling rear dampers that stopped self levelling fairly soon after I bought it so it always looked low at the back. Apparently the valves go and they get stuck at their lowest setting. Have a google and see if your car has a similar system. I didn't change them and got another 140k miles with no problems.

    Always worth giving the springs a quick visual check though just to make sure they're intact and seated correctly. If you run it heavily loaded a lot they might get a bit tired but it would be unusual for springs to wear out otherwise.

  6. #6
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    To be honest mate, if you have any doubts at all, get it checked properly. If any worst case scenarios were to play out you'd never forgive yourself.
    Chris

    'Experience teaches only the teachable'. Aldous Huxley

    Ciao Jules

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogoak View Post
    .... if you have any doubts at all, get it checked properly. ....
    Agreed.
    However, my experience of some of these tyre / exhaust type centres is that they ALWAYS tell you you need new shocks.....

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by homesicksteve View Post
    Agreed.
    However, my experience of some of these tyre / exhaust type centres is that they ALWAYS tell you you need new shocks.....
    TBH i think I'd rather use main dealership. The last time i went to a Halfords autocentre it was for a service. It would have failed an mot on front suspension arm and the other one was about to go too. They had rooted through my glove compartment and found mot certificate despite no need to do so.

    I left worrying about it. Took it to the light goods vehicle mot and service centre who had done all mots and services from new. They said nothing was wrong with it and offered to issue me an mot certificate if they failed it for free. The suspension lasted another 7 years!

  9. #9
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    Shocks do not keep the car level, the springs do. Rare for both to break at the same time.
    Good idea to have it checked out though.
    The best way to check the shocks I got taught in the pre-electronic days was to press down and release one corner of the car at a time. Car should go up and stay up, without any up and down movement.

    Worn shocks increase the stopping distance hugely, also make the roadhandling crap.

  10. #10
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    get some of these, they really work.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb...rds=spring+aid

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janne View Post
    Shocks do not keep the car level, the springs do.
    That's really not true on a lot of modern cars.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by daveO View Post
    That's really not true on a lot of modern cars.
    No not if they have hydraulic parts. Some cars used torsion bars ( Bristol 411 S5 and others)
    On some cars the springs and shocks / dampers are built into one unit.

    But a shock or works by moderating the compression and expansion of a spring.

    What did you have in mind?
    Leaf springs?

    Not sure if collapsed suspension bearings can alter the height under load drastically.
    Last edited by Janne; 11-04-2017 at 00:59.

  13. #13
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    Thank you for your advice. In some ways i take from it that all shocks and springs have suddenly failed at or near the same time. That would have been more obvious / catastrophic.

    The most obvious thing to do is to get it checked out. I was kind of thinking that was the way to go. TBH I suspect i hit the panic button too early. My partner made a comment about it looking lower the same weekend i thought it had a slow puncture at the rear because for a couple of bends tyre car didn't behave as expected.

    Minor thing but I kind of get an instinctive feel for every car i get after about 6 months. The car behaved different to the way those instincts expected on a few bends.

    So off to a garage for checking out. Reckon a simple check for them. When a lot younger and several cars back I was concerned with a creak from the suspension when conditions were damp but not raining. Only those conditions did the creak from the front suspension present itself. The old mechanic came out for a test ride, didn't hear it fully because the conditions were wrong, but he heard enough and 15 minutes later on the ramp he'd greased a suspension joint and it never came back. The experts know more than i do, time to use one i think.

    Once again thanks for your comments and advice.

  14. #14
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    Be kind and let us know the result of the mechanic check!
    We can all learn from this!

    The car, it has the classic coil spring and hydraulic damper in the back?

  15. #15
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    Without the luxury of buying a new vehicle, I've always tried to rehab what I've bought with new suspension parts.
    If the back is a coil-over-shock arrangement, the coils get replaced with Moog Cargo Coils which have a soft section and a hard section for loads.
    The shocks get torched out and replaced with Gabriel Red Ryder. I like the length of travel and the damping rate.

  16. #16
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    I am partial to Spax dampers and Polyurethane bushings.
    On the Defenders I usually had stiffer (heavy duty) springs, Spax dampers, thicker bars front and rear plus Poly bushings.

    I have a car with a weird electro/hydraulic /whatever suspension system. It adapts to the road and the different settings, plus when the gearbox shifts. I am having nightmares for when it goes wrong. Needs a guy with a computer and factory software to set it up after a change of any component.
    Last edited by Janne; 11-04-2017 at 21:29.

  17. #17
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    Let's know how you get on

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janne View Post
    What did you have in mind?
    Leaf springs?
    No but as I said above my alfa romeo sportwagon had self levelling shock absorbers which use the motion of the car to adjust the ride to the correct level using valves built into the shocks. This was in case you have a big load in the boot I guess. Quite a few manufacturers have tried similar things. Probably saying 'a lot of cars' is missleading but I've no idea who uses what these days. Suspention geometry is complicated though and even a worn out bush can cause a drop in ride height but like you say probably not drastically.

    I used to have a couple of old hondas that used adjustable torsion bars but that's probably old technology now.

  19. #19
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    Yes, they do come up with a bunch of overcomplicated systems that cost a fortune to repair.

  20. #20

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    Springs wear over time, they may not be broken but they will sag and not give the same ride height, the load could me exaggerating that, it's not uncommon to find some cars lower on the drivers side than the other when it's mostly been driven by a sole occupant!
    The things that come to those who wait will be the things left by those who got there first.

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Lord Poncho View Post
    as Janne said - its normal if you've loaded the car heavily (unless you have self levelling suspension like air springs). As long as the wheels don't keep rubbing the arches you should be fine!
    A car's tyres should NEVER touch the body work even at maximum load and under compression. If a tyre was to foul the body then it could quickly wear and fail catastrophically. Be aware that the maximum load of most cars is only something like 500 kg (I think 540 kg for you car depending on specification) and that includes passengers, roof rack, and luggage. You may have over loaded it!

  22. #22

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    I had 3 springs break on a car once, you'll definitely feel if the springs have went, the ride will be rock hard and the wheels will (probably) rub.

    Sagging under weight is fine, sagging or off level with an empty car means somethings wrong. Sometimes if a spring can come loose of its mounting causeing one side to sag a bit, easy to spot if you have a quick look.

    Tonyuk
    "I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion."


    Alexander the Great

  23. #23
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    It depends on car, but some cars have a cushioning layer between the spring and the seat where the spring sits. If they perish you will lose a couple of mm in height.

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    Any result? What did the mechanic find?

  25. #25
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    It's ok, my partner's paranoia infected me with this. Family.member used to be a car mechanic among other occupations.

  26. #26
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    Good. Saved you some money there, money you deserve to invest in a new knife!

  27. #27
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    New bike, just not for me unfortunately. However my bike was in the shop last week for a fix. A tenner for Labour plus parts is a lot cheaper than car repair bills.

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