Your car’s suspension has many functions including keeping your wheels on the road, improved grip for braking and helping your drive remain smooth even on bumpy, uneven roads. Perhaps most importantly, however, it allows your steering to absorb lateral forces, helping to keep your car stable so it doesn’t roll over. Consisting of a series of springs, struts and shock absorbers called dampers, your suspension works hard to keep you safe on the road. Shock absorbers take on the energy when your car drives on rough ground, so your suspension doesn’t move too much.
The springs absorb the pressure on the wheels as they move over surfaces, while the struts dampen vibrations and offer structural support for the entire suspension system. With so much going on, it’s important to keep your suspension running smoothly. Also, because your MINI Cooper has European suspension, it is mostly aluminum, which means although it is lightweight it is also softer. As a result, when it is bumped, it is more prone to bend. This includes simple bumps like hitting a pothole even at moderate speeds. With all this in mind, it makes good sense to recognize the following warning signs you have suspension problems.
If it seems even a small pebble in the road sets your car a rockin’, this bouncy ride is a sign your suspension needs some repairs.
A Feeling of Drifting Or Pulling
When you take turns, do you feel you are drifting or there is a sense of pulling? If so, this is a classic sign your shocks aren’t keeping your MNI Cooper’s body stable when it experiences the centrifugal force of a turn. This is never good as it puts you at risk of taking a roll. At the first sign of drifting, call your service station to set up an appointment.
Dips When You Stop
If you come to a shop and feel like your MINI Cooper lurches forward, or even feels like it is bending downwards, the shocks are shot. Your car should stop when you apply the brakes without any feelings of lurching or nose-diving. Bad suspension can make it difficult to stop suddenly to avoid accidents, so when this happens it’s time to visit your auto repair shop.
Uneven Tire Treads
While uneven tire treads can indicate a few problems, it is also a sign you have bad suspension. This is because the suspension is not keeping your car and its wheels evenly on the ground. As a result, you will see uneven wear and tear on the treads, including bald spots. Uneven pressure while you’re driving is also dangerous, so immediate attention is advised.
Greasy Shock Absorbers
This one is not easy to spot as you actually have to look under the vehicle. If you have been experiencing any of the above issues, if you are so inclined you can look at the shocks and struts to see if they are greasy. This is a sign they are leaking fluid, so something is not working or is damaged. Your certified mechanic can always check it for you if the idea of getting down to look yourself sounds like too much work!
Take the Bounce Test
If you notice any of the symptoms above and want to get a better idea if your suspension is shot, you can take the bounce test. Place the car in park and then get out and put your full weight on the front of the car and bounce a couple of times. Let go and then try the same at the rear. If the car is still rocking or bouncing when you stop, your suspension is definitely in need of repair.
What Does Suspension Repair Involve?
Since your suspension is so important for a safe, not to mention smooth drive, any of these signs call for an appointment to have it repaired. The longer you wait, the more at risk you are for accidents. Suspension repairs are pretty straight forward, so if you are worried about being out of commission without a car for too long, don’t.
It is also reasonably inexpensive compared to the potential damage caused by an accident due to faulty suspension. To repair your suspension, your certified mechanic will look at all the components including the shock absorbers, struts, springs, and the entire system’s function. The necessary repairs or replacements will vary based on what parts are worn or damaged.
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