Steering and Suspension
The car steering system is defined as the parts and links that convert the rotation of your steering wheel into the left and right turning of your steering tires. The “steering tires” are usually the front tires but there are some vehicles that have rear steering tires.
Your auto suspension system includes all parts on your vehicle that suspend your vehicle off the ground and connect your vehicle to the tires. For example, this system includes your tires, the air in your tires, springs, shocks and all the linkage components. These parts are very important and should on occasion be checked for wear because the weight of your vehicle sits on your suspension.
The Champs Family Automotive team is always very passionate about helping you stay on top of your preventative maintenance. Here are a few things you can do to help ensure the longevity of your car steering and suspension systems.
- Rotate your tires at least every other oil change
- Have your alignment checked annually or if uneven tire wear is noticed
It is very important to maintain your auto steering and suspension systems because these systems affect your drivability, safety and comfort.
Steering and suspension both affect tire wear and your vehicles alignment. If your tires aren’t aligned properly with proper caster, camber and tow, you can experience uneven tire wear which can cause numerous problems. Uneven tire wear can cause your vehicle to drift or pull on the road. Your tires can begin to float or bounce while you’re driving and not stick to the road how they should. Worn steering and suspension parts can also greatly reduce the control of your vehicle especially under heavy breaking and bumpy roads or low traction situations. If you do have worn parts it is extremely important to replace these parts before performing an alignment because your alignment will not hold if you have worn parts.
Common questions we are asked
Q1. Why does my vehicle sag or drop on one side of the vehicle or the other?
A1. Normally in this instance there’s either a bent part or worn out spring. Vehicles sit on springs so you could have a worn out leaf spring, coil or spring torsion bar. These can get worn out over time or someone could have run over something that caused the spring to bend.
Q2. Why are my tires worn unevenly?
A2. A lot of times, tires wear unevenly because people don’t rotate their tires as they should. A great rule of thumb is to have your tires rotated and balanced every other oil change. This will help you get the full life out of your tires instead of having to replace them prematurely. Typically the front tires are performing 3 major functions: steering, breaking, and propel your vehicle. Tires are constantly moving so if you have the rear tires moved to the front and the front put on the rear it will help even out the tire wear especially on front wheel drive vehicles.
Q3. Why are my tires cupping?
A3. Cupping can be caused by a couple of things, worn shocks, out of balanced tires, or sometimes it’s just the design of the tires which affects how they wear. For instance, mud terrain tires are aggressive tires and you have to rotate them more often to keep them from cupping.
Q4. Why does my car shake?
A4. Usually in this type of scenario a person will feel a shake at a certain speed. This shake can be caused by an out of balanced tire, out around tire, separated tire, bent or out of round rim. Something that’s rotating isn’t balanced or isn’t round which will cause a vibration. An alignment alone will typically not fix a shake there’s usually an underlying problem that’s causing your vehicle to shake.
Q5. Why does my vehicle drift or pull?
A5. In this scenario a drift and a pull are actually two different things.
Drifting is described as driving your vehicle down the road and if you let the steering wheel go it should stay going straight for a little while but then eventually drift to the left or right. Your vehicle does not make an immediate change in direction. If as soon as you let the wheel go the vehicle begins to go left or right that is defined as pulling. In this case the vehicle usually “pulls” the same direction. If you believe you have drifting or pulling issues sometimes it can be attributed to the road conditions or the wind outside.
Pulling can be attributed to a problem with the tires, brakes, an alignment issue or it could be the particular street you’re driving on. Streets that are crowned tend to cause vehicles to pull one direction just because the way the street is paved. We do recommend bringing your vehicle into Champs Family Automotive to have your vehicle evaluated to verify that there is not a problem with the tires, brakes, or any other suspension or steering component problems.
Q6. Why should I rotate my tires?
A6. It’s good to rotate your tires at a minimum of every other oil change to make sure they are wearing evenly and prevent premature replacement of your tires. Tires can get pretty expensive and we want you to get as much life out of your tires as possible.
Q7. Why should I have an Alignment done?
A7. An Alignment consists of our trained Technicians connecting your vehicle to our alignment machine and using sensor heads to get a reading of the caster, camber and tow. When we perform an alignment, we do a measurement for caster to see different angels on the pivot points like ball joints to see if they have the correct amount of caster. Then we check camber to see if tires are within manufacturer specifications for the top of the tire being too far in or too far out and finally we check tow. Tow is the measurement of the front leading edge of your tires pointing in or out.
An Alignment should be done to make sure your tires wear correctly, and to help you maintain good drivability, and safety. Keep in mind all the bumps, and curbs you might hit or run over can shift suspensions and steering components over time which can cause your alignment to be off. When you do come in for an alignment always remember to let the Service Advisor at Champs Family Automotive know why you believe you need an alignment. In most cases an Alignment will not fix all suspension nor steering problems, it’s best for us to understand what your problem is so we can work together to find the best solution to fix and address your problem.
Q8. Does your alignment have a warranty?
A8. An Alignment is not a part it is a service. Since so many things can affect a service like an alignment, we do not warranty alignments. Again, potholes, curbs, minor fender benders, rough roads, worn parts and so many other things can affect your alignment. We do however guarantee if your vehicle is alignable we will absolutely align it within factory specifications and to your satisfaction.
Q9. Do I need a 4 wheel alignment?
A9. Every time we do an alignment we do put the sensor heads on all 4 wheels to get a thrust angle reading to check and verify the rear axle is pointed straight. A lot of times the rear axle does not have adjustments which means the factory didn’t offer a way to adjust camber and tow. Also, rear tires will not have caster. For instance on a pick-up truck if the rear axle is crooked or not on the vehicle straight than that means you may have a bent leaf spring or other part, at this point something has to be actually taken apart and repaired. Most 4 wheel alignments come into play when you have rear independent suspension on your vehicle i.e. control arms, struts etc… In this case there are normally adjustment bolts that have to be adjusted to perform an alignment. This is an example of a vehicle that would need a 4 wheel alignment if the readings are out of manufacturer specifications.
Q10. Why is my alignment more expensive than a standard 2 or 4 wheel alignment?
A10. Usually when an alignment is more expensive than a standard 2 or 4 wheel alignment it’s because we can’t just attach the sensor heads to your vehicle easily and adjust caster, camber and tow. For instance if you have non-adjustable components that have to be removed or shims have to be added or removed to adjust the alignment, this can be very labor intensive. There may also be a difference in standard alignment prices if you have over sized tires, lift, lowered etc… Most of the time when we charge more for an alignment it’s because the vehicle requires addition labor to adjust caster and camber.
History about Lube oil and Filter
Many years ago when people use to get an oil change it used to be called lube, oil and filter. The term Lube comes in because on older vehicles there used to be lube points in the suspension and steering where everything moved. Some new vehicle still have these lube points but not many. Technicians used to take grease guns and lube these points pushing new grease in and old grease out. The grease helped keep these parts moving freely and in proper working order. In most new vehicles today these joints are permanently sealed and lubed so lubrication is not necessary. Now bigger Trucks do still have joints that need to be lubricated which is vital to the life of the suspension and steering components. This is again why it’s extremely important to have a trained technician working and looking over your vehicle so the proper service is performed on your specific vehicle.
When a Steering or suspension problem is present
When customers have a problem with their suspension or steering systems we commonly find worn out ball joints, steering linkage, steering boxes, rack and pinions. All these components and so many others should be evaluated any time you have a problem with your suspension and steering. Always put your best foot forward and bring your vehicle into Champs Family Automotive for your steering and suspension needs because our Technicians are trained how to accurately check all your working components.
Champs Family Automotive is actually the go to shop in Surprise & Goodyear AZ for other automotive repair facilities that can’t or don’t have the knowledge or skill to inspect your vehicles suspension or steering properly. Some vehicle suspension and steering have to be properly evaluated lifted in the air while others require the full force of the vehicle to be put on the tire to accurately evaluate the suspension and steering systems. Don’t always assume an alignment will fix a steering or suspension problem you have. A trained Technician should always be inspecting your vehicle and never forget you should always ask: what needs to be replaced, why it needs to be replaced and a reputable shop will always be happy to show you the parts on the vehicle that need to be replaced. It’s also important to note a reputable automotive and diesel repair facility will always include an alignment when any front end work, i.e. suspension or steering work, is done. An alignment should never be something you have to take somewhere else and have done.