A quality and well-maintained suspension system for a heavy-duty truck is crucial. This system is responsible for not only providing you with a smooth and even drive, but also for maintaining stability in a large heavy-duty truck while on the road. In the worst-case scenario, a faulty suspension system can lead to a lack of control in emergencies. An unmaintained suspension system that fails can result in delayed drives, on-road accidents, and more. Keeping your suspension system in tip-top shape is essential for anyone driving an 18-wheeler or other heavy-duty truck. Knowing the signs of a heavy-duty truck suspension problem is the key to resolving the issue quickly and ensuring your vehicle is well-maintained.
In this article, we provide you with 5 common indicators that it’s time for a truck suspension repair. Let’s dive into each of these indicators, including what signs to watch out for!
1. Your Truck Veers to One Side (Poor Steering Response)
One of the telltale signs of a faulty suspension system is a truck that veers to a specific side while driving. This is what we call a poor steering response — when the movement of your tires does not match or resists the direction in which you are steering. Before immediately placing the blame on your suspension system, it is important to first assess your tires. If your tires are not balanced properly, this can cause the veering you are experiencing. If you have checked your tires and had them realigned recently, you can move on to assessing the next possible cause — a problem in the suspension system. A key detail to look for is signs of damage on your shock absorbers, tie rods, and control arms.
2. Your Ride is Extremely Bumpy and Hard to Control
A suspension system exists to help keep a vehicle stable and driving smoothly. When there is a problem with that system, your ride can end up feeling bumpy and hard to control. This bumpiness when driving typically indicates the need for a repair or replacement of the shock absorbers and struts within your suspension system. No matter how good of a suspension system you have, all vehicles are bound to have some bumps in their ride when you drive over road damage, like big potholes or cracks in the pavement. However, if your truck is responding poorly to every little flaw in the road, it is likely time to take a look at your suspension system. After all, stopping a rough ride is important not just for your personal comfort but for your safety on the road as well.
3. Your Truck Leans when Parked, Turning, & Changing Lanes
Along with veering to one side or the other when driving, you should also watch out for leaning. Leaning can be seen both when the truck is moving and when it is parked. It generally appears as though a corner of the truck is low or like the back of the truck is leaning backward. This can be caused by issues with your shocks and leaf springs. A blown shock can cause the spring to over-compress, leading to a lowered overall height where the shock and spring are located. Cracking and screeching sounds are often attributed to this type of issue.
4. Your Shock Absorbers and/or Leaf Springs Appear Oily
As part of regular and routine maintenance for your heavy-duty truck, it is highly important to perform visual inspections of your suspension system. While doing so, one of the vital signs to look for is a greasy or oily appearance on your shock absorbers and leaf springs. If you do notice these components appear oily, this is a major indicator that a fluid leak may be occurring. As a result, these parts may not function properly when you need them.
Shock absorbers can be somewhat easy to damage, especially if you have been in any sort of minor wreck or accident. This damage can lead to leaking, which can eventually cause further damage that is near-impossible to repair at a low cost.
5. Your Tires Have Uneven Tire Tread
The fifth and final indicator of a suspension problem to keep an eye out for is unevenly worn tires. If your tires are worn down unevenly, this can be a sign of a suspension issue and may indicate that your truck is misaligned. It can also alert you to a problem in your braking system or steering as well.
Tires naturally wear down over time due to use. Knowing when your tires need to be replaced and what to look for in terms of wear and tear is the key to identifying unusual or unexpected wear to your tires. In general, you can expect tires for a heavy-duty truck to last between three to six years.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends replacing tires when the tread of the tires is equal to or less than 2/32 inches in depth. Measuring the depth of your tread is the best way to keep track of your tire quality and notice when something is amiss.
Final Takeaways: Keep Your Heavy-Duty Truck Suspension in Great Shape
To avoid costly suspension system repairs or replacements, it is crucial to regularly maintain your heavy-duty truck. Routine maintenance can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars per year by identifying all types of issues in their early stages — including suspension problems.
If you have experience maintaining a heavy-duty truck, such as an 18-wheeler, then carrying out this maintenance can be completed on your own time and in your own workspace. However, if you are not experienced in vehicle maintenance, your best bet is to visit a professional shop.
Professional truck maintenance shops can provide you with the vehicle care you need to keep your heavy-duty truck in excellent working shape. Not only can this save you money on repairs in the long run but it is also critically important for practicing safe driving on roadways and major highways.
For heavy-duty truck drivers in the Chicago area, Bus & Truck of Chicago offers a wide range of services including suspension and spring services, collision repairs, bodywork, and wheel alignments. Contact Bus & Truck of Chicago today to learn more and request a service.
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