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Don’t compromise safety or comfort: Check your suspension and wheel alignment

The winter surely took its toll on our Libertyville-area roads by creating potholes, humps and bumps. These telltale signs of a Midwestern winter also might have done a number on your vehicle’s suspension and wheel alignment.

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Just because winter is gone doesn’t mean the season didn’t leave its mark on your vehicle’s shock absorbers or wheel alignment.

Many of us think shock absorbers and struts exist merely to provide a comfortable ride by minimizing the effect of all the above-mentioned “road warts.” Truth is, the primary purpose of a strut or shock absorber is to keep us safe by ensuring tires maintain road contact and don’t bounce up or leave the pavement when a vehicle encounters bumps. Worn shocks also make it harder for a car to stop, adding anywhere between 10%-20% to braking distance. That could mean the difference between an accident and reaching your destination unscathed.

Likewise, a vehicle whose wheels are out of alignment poses serious safety concerns for drivers and occupants. The steering wheel might be off-center even when the car is moving straight or the vehicle itself could pull to the right or left.

At the very least, vehicles needing a wheel alignment or shocks or struts can drain owners’ wallets due to poor gas mileage.

Fortunately, telltale signs exist to alert you to possible problems with suspension or alignment so your friends at Auto Lab can correct the problem.

Telltale signs of compromised shock absorbers/struts include:

  • Nose-dives during braking.
  • Vibrations and an unpleasant ride (including steering-wheel vibrations, rocking and rattling).
  • Excessive rough-surface bounce or “bottoming out.”
  • Veering in side winds or swerving due to road conditions or steering activity.
  • Traction loss during accelerating, braking or cornering.
  • Tire noise.

In addition to symptoms encountered while driving, a quick visual inspection might reveal these telltale signs of damaged or worn shocks and struts:

  • Shock or strut oil leakage.
  • Dented or damaged housings.
  • Uneven tire wear or tire cupping.

If you see any of these warning signs, make an appointment with your preferred Libertyville auto service experts at Auto Lab.

Just as compromised shocks/struts aren’t silent about their situation, neither is an out-of-whack wheel alignment. Put simply, a proper wheel alignment ensures the angles of the wheels themselves are perpendicular to the road surface while also sitting parallel to one another. This practice maximizes tire life and ensures an automobile drives straight and properly follows steering commands.

A good comparison is that of a person wearing shoes. If someone were to walk on his shoes’ inner or outer edges, he’d wear out his footwear prematurely. The same goes for a car’s tires put under the stress of an out-of-alignment set of wheels.

Symptoms that a car’s alignment needs correction include:

  • Uneven or premature tire wear.
  • Squealing tires.
  • Vehicle pulls to right or left.
  • Steering wheel is off-center compared to vehicle driving direction.

If you have questions on your vehicle’s suspension or shocks and struts, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to help.

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