If you often think the roads in and around Guelph are getting worse, you’re not alone. Manoeuvring roads marked by worn, cracked asphalt and endless potholes can be a challenge, and it can also take its toll on your vehicle suspension system. With so many moving parts involved in keeping your car aligned properly and riding smoothly, it’s important to pay attention to the signs that could indicate your car has issues far greater than having to drive on local roads.
“It may feel like roads are getting worse, but then again it could be the suspension in your car,” said Vinnie Klimkosz, owner of the two locations of Vinnie’s Mr. Fix-it in Guelph. “If you find yourself hitting bumps and hearing banging or noises, or if it takes a big nosedive when you brake, you may need to get your suspension inspected.”
Klimkosz said having a licensed mechanic check your vehicle is the best way to determine what the cause of a rough ride or hard to steer car might be.
“A qualified mechanic can check your front and rear suspension, including the ball joints, shocks, control arms, tie rod ends, and sway bar links,” he said. “There are a lot of moving parts that do wear over time. And the quality of front end parts is not as good as it should be.”
Many drivers who attempt to self-diagnose problems with their vehicles often try to determine whether their car is properly aligned by letting go of the steering wheel to see if the car veers left or right. Besides the obvious safety concern involved in taking your hands off the wheel of a car in motion, Klimkosz said that such a tire pull isn’t necessarily an indication of a car that is improperly aligned.
“A tire pull could indicate a few things, including low tire pressure which is often the case,” he said. “Other times you could have a part that’s bent or worn, which could also create pull as well. If the pull changes on different roads or only when hitting the brakes, it could actually be a brake problem. One side could be grabbing more than the other to create the pull.”
Feeling vibrations in your steering wheel or suspension when travelling at speeds above 80 to 100 kilometres is also not an immediate indicator of suspension or alignment problems. Klimkosz said in many instances the vibration is the result of a tire out of balance or a bad tire. Having the same thing happen when braking at high speed could be an indicator of problems with your brakes.
“If you hit the brakes at high speed and feel vibration in your pedals, that could indicate brake rotor issues,” he said. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but excessive warp could affect braking ability. You definitely want to get to a garage to have them checked.”
Uneven tire wear is one of the most obvious indicators of a poorly aligned front end. Once such uneven wear is noticed, Klimkosz said it’s important to bring the vehicle in for service.
“Running a vehicle that isn’t properly aligned or with poor components not only wears your tires out, but it also could be costing your more in fuel. If wheels aren’t properly aligned it will make the engine work harder and cost you more gas. It’s always good to have it checked in spring and fall when you swamp your snow tires out.”
For more information or to have your suspension and alignment checked, visit Vinnie’s Mr. Fix-It online at vinniesmrfixit.com. Or drop by either of their two Guelph locations: 30 Hayes Avenue, or 41 Woodlawn Road West.