Owning a vehicle is not only about practicality and comfort – it also involves a certain degree of responsibility and drivers need to have at least basic mechanical knowledge of their car to keep it in good condition. Cars need to be checked and maintained, and each component has its role, but some are more important than others. Suspension bushes, for example, are one of the most essential car components. Unfortunately, many drivers only realise this when their mechanic tells them that they are worn and need replacement. But, before you go and purchase new ones, here are some of the basics that you need to know before purchasing suspension kits:
What are suspension bushes and why are they important?
Suspension bushes are car components designed to increase car safety, handling and ride comfort by aligning other parts such as sway bars, shock absorbers and torsion bars. Not all bushes are created equal. Depending on their application, they can be manufactured from different materials, such as rubber, synthetic rubber compound or urethane. There is no universally preferred material, because the choice depends on the make and model of the vehicle, its state and, most importantly, the conditions in which it is used.
Urethane is the best option for vehicles driven in difficult conditions or that have to carry heavy loads. Urethane is a durable material that can maintain its hardness even when the vehicle is taken to the edge.
Rubber – this option is excellent for reducing noise, vibration and harshness. Despite rubber being one of the most versatile materials, it is not indicated for vehicles exposed to pollution, powerful solvents and corrosive materials.
The risks of worn suspension bushes
When working properly, suspension bushes compress and then return to the original position. Once they are affected by daily wear and tear, they can no longer do this, so they become either too hard or too soft. As a result, the vehicle may become less easy to handle and the ride becomes less comfortable because of all the noise and vibration. It’s not only a matter of comfort; worn bushes lower vehicle handling, which can cause accidents. Also, they lead to rapid tyre wear and affect handling.
How often should bushes be replaced?
Bushes are made from flexible materials and they’ll wear out in time, thus, you need to invest in new suspension kits. However, at what interval they should be changed depends on the condition of your car, as well as how and where you drive it. If you have a newer vehicle and only drive it on highways or in the city, then you should not expect suspensions to be a major issue. However, if you frequently use your car to carry heavy loads, drive on rough terrain or have an aggressive driving style, you will have to replace them sooner, preferably with urethane bushes that are made for such conditions.
To find out if suspensions need changing you can go to a mechanic for inspection, but, more often than not, you can spot a problem yourself by paying attention to these signs:
- Is there more vibration than usual inside the cabin? Is your vehicle noisier?
- Can you hear any friction sounds from wheel fenders?
- Is there a rattling noise when you drive on rough terrain?
- Has the steering become loose?
If you notice either one of these signs, then you should take your vehicle to a professional car service for inspection and consider upgrading your suspension bushes.