Top 5 Symptoms of Bad Front Suspension
I am a serial entrepreneur and a consumer advocate. When I’m not helping car buyers, I love working on ventures that have a positive impact.
Knowing how to tell if your front suspension is bad might pose a big challenge if you’re new to driving.
The good thing, however, is that there are a lot of tellable signs that will tell you that you have a bad suspension system. Rough rides, difficult steering, bumpy rides, and the car pulling to one side are numerous symptoms of a bad suspension system.
You wouldn’t want to fix the rear suspension when the problem is from the front suspension. Your suspension system includes your ball joints, knuckle, control arm, hinges and bushings, strut, spring assembly, tie rods, sway bar, or even the drive axle.
You can tell that your front suspension is bad if there is play on the front wheels, if the front struts and shocks are loose, or if the grease boots and rubber bushings on the front wheels are damaged. Visual inspection of your front suspension system will help you tell if it is bad.
Table of Contents
- How to tell if your front suspension is bad
- What happens if your front suspension is bad?
- What does bad front suspension sound like?
- Best Car Deals by Category
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to tell if your front suspension is bad
The method of determining if your front suspension is bad might vary for different cars. This is because the suspension system on race cars differs from those on normal cars. The suspension of race cars is stiffer and will not bounce unless you exert pressure on the front region.
However, the methods for checking for a bad front suspension are greatly similar for all cars (rear or front-wheel drive); you have to model the procedures to match your car’s specifications.
Here are easy ways to tell if your front suspension is bad.
1. Play and wobbling wheels
One of the first ways to tell if your front suspension is bad is to check for wobbling wheels, play, or noise in your tires. Jack up your car through the front wheels and hold the wheels at a 90-degree angle and pull firmly. Repeat shaking at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock.
Any play in the tires indicates that you should check the ball joints. Inspect the lower and upper ball joints. The ball joints are responsible for the uneven wear on your front tires, rough cabin vibrations, noise, and loose steering feel.
Use a crowbar or long bar to move your tires upward with a long bar car suspended with a jack. There shouldn’t be any upward or downward movement in your tires. If you notice any up or down clunk movement, the ball joint in your front suspension is bad, and you will need to fix it.
2. Unbalanced car frame
Bad front suspension will cause your car to sit out of position. Study your car’s position and check if it has moved off its level. If one side of the car sits lower than the other, then there are chances that you have a bad front suspension.
You must understand that in certain cars like pickup trucks, it is normal for your car’s front position to be slightly lower than the rear. You must not misinterpret the angular raise and unbalance.
To tell if your front suspension is bad from the balance and state of your car frame, get a tape or meter rule and measure the length of your tire from the bottom to the front fender.
Repeat the process for the rear wheels. There are chances that you will record slight variations in the height of both sides, but it shouldn’t be much (mainly half an inch). A bad front suspension will have your car tilting lower to the front region.
3. Loose front strut and shock absorbers
The struct and shock are crucial components of your car’s suspension system. You can tell your front suspension is bad by visually inspecting your strut and shocks. You might need a little extra experience to do this.
Open your car’s hood to expose the metallic/internal components of your car. Look for the front strut, shock, and spring assembly and confirm its state. You can tell that the front suspension is bad if the front strut and shock are loose, rusted, or compromised by an impact.
Your front suspension is bad if the strut mount is not properly secured. You can run your hands to the end connection of your strut and spring, shake and confirm if it is solid. Any movement indicates that they are bad.
4. Damaged grease boots and rubber bushings on the front wheel
The front suspension inspection is incomplete if you don’t check the grease boots and rubber bushings. Not all cars have grease boots or fittings, so you might consider focusing on rubber bushing. It is the right time to get grease on the component if there are grease boots.
If you notice cracks, wear, and tears on your rubber bushings, there are no doubts that you have a bad front suspension.
The bushings are rubber components in your suspension system that prevent metal-to-metal contact and frictional effects. You will diagnose all the rubber pieces in your suspension to decide how good they are.
Any tear or wear of the rubber bushings will cause haphazard movement in your suspension, resulting in rough rides. It can also compromise your steering ability and ability to handle bumps. In some cases, the bushings are entirely missing.
5. Confirm the performance of your tie rod, and sway bar
You should check the performance of your tie rod, sway bar, drive axle, bearings, and all aligning components related to the suspension. You can run the connection through to the thick sway bar under your car. Check if the connection point between the sway bar and lower control arm is firmly fitted.
If the connection point shakes too much, your suspension's right and left sides will be compromised. Check your tie rod ends and ensure that there is no play.
The tie rod handles your steering performance by connecting your steering wheels to the tire wheels. Playing in the tie rod will affect your steering performance, which is a dangerous situation for you.
What happens if your front suspension is bad?
A few things can happen if your front suspension is bad. These actions depend on the damaged part of your suspension system and the extent of damage to them.
Here are some things that will happen if your front suspension is bad:
- Loss of control.
- Poor driving experience and bumpy rides.
- A dead spot on the steering wheel.
- Inability of your car to withstand bumps.
- Bad steering ability.
- Your car will sway back and forth after you drive past a bump.
- The front side of your car sits lower than the rear.
- Car pulls to one side.
These are common things that will happen if your front suspension is bad.
What does bad front suspension sound like?
A bad front suspension produces knocking and clunking sounds. These sounds are similar to rear suspension problems, but the only difference is that the sounds of a bad front suspension will come from the front region.
The sounds also depend on the type of damage on the suspension.
A bad front suspension will produce clunking sounds when metal-to-metal contact occurs. This happens if the rubber bushings have failed. You might also hear knocking sounds when you drive your bad front suspension over bumps.
To tell if your front suspension is bad, you need to understand how the components of your suspension system work.
Checking if you have a bad front suspension relates to telling if your rear front suspension is bad. Diagnose the suspension problems, then get a professional auto repair man to help you fix the damages.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can suspension damage be fixed?
It depends. Certain factors depend on if suspension damage can be fixed. These factors include the type of material the suspension component is made of and the extent of the damage.
How much does it cost to replace the front suspension?
Replacing your front suspension costs between $1,500 to $5,500. The cost of front suspension replacement depends on the price of the damaged component, the cost of labor, and the type of vehicle. Replacing a rubber bushing is relatively cheaper than replacing a tie rod, sway bar, or swing assembly.
When should I replace my front suspension?
It would be best if you replaced your front suspension whenever you notice wear or tear in the system. This will reflect in the performance of your rides. Generally, the lifespan of a front suspension is 50,000 to 100,000 miles.
What happens if you keep driving with bad suspension?
You compromise your safety when you keep driving with a bad suspension. The results of driving with a bad suspension include rough rides, noise from your car’s hood, loss of control and handling, poor steering performance, and difficulty in making turns. Your car will also start bouncing excessively.