Car Components Suspension 

Cleaning and checking leaf springs

Leaf springs are used at the rear in many cars. Leaf springs are likely to wear because they have several moving parts. They should be inspected at intervals specified by the car manufacturer, or at major service intervals – usually every 12,000 miles (20,000 km). Before you jack the car up, put it on level ground, make sure that the tyres are at their normal pressures and that the car is at its normal ‘kerb weight’ without passengers, and with a full fuel tank. Crouch down a little distance behind…

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Car Components Suspension 

Checking damper units

MacPherson struts at the front with telescopic dampers at the rear is a common layout on many cars. Almost all modern cars have hydraulic telescopic dampers in their suspension systems. Where the front suspension system is a MacPherson strut, the damper is built into the strut or leg that supports the wheel-hub assembly (See How car suspension works). To inspect the condition of telescopic dampers, loosen the wheel nuts, jack up the car and support the chassis on axle stands so that the wheels hang free and the dampers are…

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Car Components Suspension 

Coil springs replacement

The suspension ready for removal of the spring. Make sure the axle stand is placed far enough back to allow removal of the spring and lower-wishbone arm. If you have to replace a coil spring on the front suspension, the replacement spring must be of the correct rating. It is also best to replace both front springs — the other one may not match exactly the rating of the new spring to be fitted. Check the rating with your local dealer. Springs are normally identified by coloured paint markings. Removing…

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Suspension Car Components 

Renewing MacPherson-strut inserts

The unit-replacement strut has a detachable top section held by a clamp and two bolts. When the damper inside a MacPherson strut wears out, you can buy a replacement cartridge which — depending on type — may or may not include new parts for the strut itself. You will need a pair of coil-spring compressors. Hire them if necessary, do not use makeshift arrangements of clamps, wire or cord. They are unsafe. Loosen the wheel nuts and raise the car on axle stands under chassis or frame members. Remove the…

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Car Components Suspension 

Replacing lever-arm dampers

The damper may sit upright and be bolted to the inner wing or to the front bulkhead. The arm operates through a slot in the inner wing. The damper may also be fixed under the wing, to a chassis member or subframe, and operate through a series of links. A lever-arm damper on the front often acts as part of the suspension unit. Loosen the front wheel nuts, jack up the front of the car, place axle stands under the chassis members and chock the rear wheels. Remove the front…

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Car Components Suspension 

How to replace dampers

If dampers are worn or damaged they affect not only ride and comfort but also cornering, braking and tyre wear. The car may also fail a roadworthiness test. Modern telescopic dampers cannot be overhauled at home. The only servicing possible is to replace rubber bushes (See Checking damper units). Dampers that are leaking, damaged or worn out (See Checking damper units) should be replaced with new units. Fitting new dampers is usually straightforward, and can be done with a few medium-sized ring spanners or ratchet sockets. On combined coil-spring and…

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Car Components Suspension 

How to replace anti-roll-bar bushes

The forces imposed on the anti-roll bar subject it to constant twisting and flexing, which in turn put its various rubber mounting bushes under great load. The bushes gradually wear and lose their effectiveness. Over a period of years the rubber hardens and tends to crack. If oil is allowed to contaminate the bushes, it softens them rapidly and they may even disintegrate. Anti-roll bars are sometimes fitted only to the front suspension, but many cars also have them fitted to the rear suspension. Check all the anti-roll-bar bushes at…

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Car Components Suspension 

Checking engine dampers

A plain steady bar with an eye at each end. Rubber bushes are fitted to each end of the bar. A telescopic damper mounted between the engine and a long bracket running from the front to the rear of a transverse engine compartment. Check the dampers during major services, every 12,000 miles (20,000 km), or if you suspect that the engine is moving abnormally. This may show as a thump when accelerating or braking, sometimes accompanied by excessive movement of the gear lever. Inspect the bushes for distortion, softness, perishing, cracking or oil…

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Car Components Suspension 

Checking suspension joints and pivots

A MacPherson-strut-type front suspension. The strut incorporates a damper and coil spring. Almost all joints and pivots in a modern suspension system have rubber or plastic bushes, with the possible exception of steering swivel joints. Because of the constant movement of the suspension parts, the bushes gradually wear out, soften and perish. Oil contamination also causes them to deteriorate, and if they are allowed to deteriorate too much, they become loose and the steering and roadholding suffers. It is essential to make a regular check on the condition of all…

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A telescopic damper mounted between the engine and a long bracket running from the front to the rear of a transverse engine compartment Car Components Suspension 

How to check the engine damper

The engine is easy to rock rubber parts, especially at idle speed, with excess damper or pure bars combined with rubber shrubs held at both ends of the stabilizer. The car is transverse to the engine, and several others, the damper – either a purely stable bar, a hydraulically retractable unit or a combination of both. Types of engine damper There may be one or two dampers, usually mounted between the cylinder brackets and the other in the bulkhead. The damper is also sometimes mounted from the engine block or…

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