The suspension system has a lot to do with controlling your vehicle. It is not just for comfort but assists the vehicle to handle the road. A problem with the suspension system can lead to serious accidents, putting the driver and passengers at risk of injury or death. In some cases, the vehicle manufacturer is aware of suspension problems but does not notify consumers. It may take reports of accidents and complaints before the government may require the manufacturer to fix the problem.
Suspension Systems in Motor Vehicles
The suspension system involves many of the parts that connect the vehicle to the road. The suspension system can include:
- Tire air pressure
- Shock absorbers
- Driver Assistance Systems
A working suspension system affects the ride and the handling of the vehicle. The ride involves how the car feels and the ability to handle a bumpy road. The handling impacts the vehicle's ability to accelerate, brake, and corner, keeping the tires in contact with the road for maximum control.
The riding aspect of the suspension system is more than just for comfort. If a vehicle is not able to absorb the bumps and shocks from the road, it can cause a wheel to leave the surface of the road and lose traction. Road bumps can also cause oscillation in the vehicle, compromising control of the vehicle for the driver.
Cornering is another important part of driving and safety. A properly working suspension system will minimize body roll on a turn. The natural force of turning at speed pushes the vehicle's center of gravity outward. If the suspension does not account for this centrifugal force, the tires could lose traction or the vehicle could rollover.
Common Vehicle Suspension Problems
There are a number of possible issues with suspension systems in cars, trucks, SUVs, and other vehicles. This can involve any part of the suspension system. Suspension problems can appear and worsen over time or they can occur suddenly and without warning, leaving the driver unable to safely slow down or exit a busy road. Suspension problems can include the following.
- Steering pull to the left or right. Tracking or drifting problems can be caused by worn parts, fluid leaks, or even steering system problems.
- Bumpy ride. A bumpy ride, especially when going over small bumps or potholes can be caused by leaks, worn parts, rusted parts, or loose connections.
- Clunking or knocking when going over bumps. Noises that appear when a vehicle goes over a bump may be related to broken, loose, or worn suspension parts.
- Loss of control when turning at high speed. When the vehicle feels unstable going around a turn, there could be a problem with the suspension system. This may involve worn or broken parts, welding defects, or fluid leaks.
- Bump steering or shifting to the left or right without turning the wheel can be caused by a poorly aligned suspension system or suspension part defects.
Some suspension problems in vehicles (especially newer vehicles) are caused by vehicle safety defects, manufacturing defects, or design defects in the vehicle or vehicle parts. Causes may include:
- Welding defects
- Cheaper materials
- Defective springs
- Defective dampers
- Defective torsion bars
- Defective struts
- Defective shock absorbers
- Fluid leaks
- Broken or defective stabilizers
- Defective bushings
- Defective control arms
Accidents Involving Suspension Problems
Accidents caused by suspension problems often involve a sudden loss of control caused by a failure in the suspension system. When a suspension part breaks or ruptures, the vehicle may pull to one side or the other or cause the vehicle to jerk or bump when going over bumps in the road. This reduces the control the driver has over the car and could shift the vehicle into oncoming traffic, off the road, into a barrier, or otherwise cause an accident.
Another type of accident involving suspension problems occurs in rollover accidents. Rollover accidents are more likely to affect vehicles with a higher center of gravity, like SUVs, vans, and trucks. If the suspension malfunctions or is defective, the vehicle could lose contact with the ground when going around a turn, causing the vehicle to roll. Rollover accidents can be more dangerous when the vehicle rolls off the road or into oncoming traffic.
Examples of Vehicle Suspension Problems
Many vehicle owners have reported problems with the suspension in their vehicles. Some of these have lead to NHTSA investigations and manufacturer recalls. Steering system investigations and recalls have included:
An example of a recall warning by the NHTSA includes the 2019 Chevrolet Trax SUV, NHTSA Campaign Number 19V312000. According to the NHTSA, the recall relates to a lower-control arm that may separate from the vehicle. “A partial separation of the lower control arm from the vehicle could cause the attached front wheel to toe outward, impacting the vehicle's handling and steering and increasing the risk of a crash.”
California Lemon Lawyer for Owners With Suspension Problems
California's Lemon Law provides protection for vehicle owners still under warranty with suspension problems. Contact The Lemon Lawyer today to help you understand your rights and options, including getting a refund, returning a faulty vehicle, free repairs or replacement, or other compensation for a defective car, truck, or SUV.