16 July 2012

My car's strange suspension problem

I love my car.

It's compact, easy to drive, easy to park, with adequate boot space for marketing and hyper-marketing, roomy back seat for the kids, best of all with an elevated driving perspective. It's not even an expensive luxury car, but most people I know who have owned one don't like it. I must be the exception.

It has never given me any problems, but of course it is aging. We noticed some rust pieces falling off from the undercarriage, and since I have no intention of getting rid of it, hubs suggested I send it in for an anti-rust treatment. Just spraying a coating of anti-rust solution on the underside.

Simple enough and sensible I thought. So in went my trusty car and out it came.

I noticed it immediately.

My car's suspension seemed so much "harder" and firm. The ride was bumpy and I could feel every stone, rock or hole in the road. Before this, my shock absorbers were behaving normally and the ride was soft and comfortable. When I told my husband he said I must be imagining it. My kids and maid gave the same feedback as me when I took them to school the next morning.

When my husband test drove my car, he admitted something was amiss. As it happened, my car tyres were due for alignment and balancing. The tyre shop that got it done for my car remarked to my husband that the suspension seemed harder than normal too.

I called the anti-rust workshop. The elderly proprietor, known to us and familiar with our cars, said the anti-rust treatment should not interfere with my shock absorbers and that he didn't mess around with them either. He was earnest and sounded worried about my complaint. I have no reason not to believe him.

Principle Definition Goal Solution
Road Isolation The vehicle's ability to absorb or isolate road shock from the passenger compartment Allow the vehicle body to ride undisturbed while traveling over rough roads. Absorb energy from road bumps and dissipate it without causing undue oscillation in the vehicle.
Road Holding The degree to which a car maintains contact with the road surface in various types of directional changes and in a straight line (Example: The weight of a car will shift from the rear tires to the front tires during braking. Because the nose of the car dips toward the road, this type of motion is known as "dive." The opposite effect -- "squat" -- occurs during acceleration, which shifts the weight of the car from the front tires to the back.) Keep the tires in contact with the ground, because it is the friction between the tires and the road that affects a vehicle's ability to steer, brake and accelerate. Minimize the transfer of vehicle weight from side to side and front to back, as this transfer of weight reduces the tire's grip on the road.
Cornering The ability of a vehicle to travel a curved path Minimize body roll, which occurs as centrifugal force pushes outward on a car's center of gravity while cornering, raising one side of the vehicle and lowering the opposite side. Transfer the weight of the car during cornering from the high side of the vehicle to the low side.

So my husband turned to.....the internet, and his car forums. Information sharing in cyber space is very helpful. He found a discussion where a guy with the same make of car as mine complained of exactly the same thing!

Well, all the gurus and pros contributing to the discussion came to one explanation - that a relatively older car (mine is 8 years) would have worn absorbers and springs. When the car is jacked up for works such as an anti-rust spray, it would be suspended above ground for some time. Therefore, the tyres and springs are all dangling without support in mid air. When it is lowered back down to the ground, it could be that the shock absorber springs failed to contract back after being stretched, thus causing them to "seize" and no longer function properly. Some on the forum even attributed the problem to the brand of my car.

Sigh..............anti-rust spray done only to have my suspension springs give out. Service and absorber replacement next, I suppose.

(picture from suspensioncoil.com)


  1. It’s been a while. How’s your car now? It was good that you and your husband detected the problem right away. I assume you were able to avoid road troubles because of this. I suggest you take your car to a car repair shop every now and then for an overall checkup. This will enable you to identify possible car problems at once. You can check info about car body repairs on this site: http://www.jimandjacks.com/south-bay-auto-body-shop.html

  2. Hi Mickey, yup I got my car's shock absorbers replaced and the ride is back to normal.

    Thanks for the website add, I will definitely read up! Thanks for dropping by and happy 2013!

  3. It’s nice to know that your car's okay now. So the problem lies with the shock absorber huh? Anyway, like what Mickey said, it’s good that you’re able to sense that there’s something wrong about your car. Otherwise, you might end up literally walking your kids to school along the road.

    Cayla Maggio

  4. Dear Cayla, yeah I'm glad I could feel the difference when I drove my car. At least my husband can't say all lady drivers are oblivious to problems with their car! haha....