Everybody expects their vehicle to deliver a smooth and comfortable ride. One of the major components that absorb pot-holes, bumps and other blemishes on the roads we drive is the suspension spring insulator. The spring insulators are engineered rubber pieces that encapsulate the top and bottom of the spring mounts on your vehicle. Essentially, they are padding that absorbs vibration transmitted from the tire, to the suspension, through the shock and eventually felt throughout the car and steering wheel. When the spring insulators wear out, it not only reduces the quality of your ride, but can impact tire wear, steering and handling ability and reduce emergency driving situations.
Noted below are a few of the symptoms displayed by spring insulators that are wearing out, or need to be replaced due to failure.
1. Vehicle bottoms out
Arguably the best indicator that you have spring insulators that are worn out and need to be replaced is if the vehicle bottoms out while negotiating obstacles in the road. The spring insulators, besides acting as a cushion, also allow the suspension to control the amount of travel (or the length that the vehicle's front or rear end moves up and down). If your car or truck bottom's out, you will notice a hard hit that can damage vehicle components located on the undercarriage of the vehicle; including:
- Drive Shaft
- Vehicle Suspension
- Oil pans and Radiators
Anytime your vehicle bottoms out, make sure to have a professional and certified mechanic inspect it immediately; as this is most likely a problem that means you need to replace spring insulators.
2. Excessive road noise from the front or rear end
The spring insulators absorb vibration in the road and help to control road noise. If you begin to notice loud noises coming from the front or rear end of your vehicle, it's a good indication that the spring insulators are not doing their job effectively. This is generally not a progressive situation, as picking up road noise is not very easy to diagnose until the damage has been done to components.
However, another noise that people can notice that is easy to distinguish from normal road noise is "creaking" or "cracking" coming from the front end when you steer or go over speed bumps. If you notice these sounds, contact a certified mechanic to inspect, diagnose and repair this issue. Typically this warning sign indicates that the spring insulators and potentially the springs themselves need to be replaced.
3. Grinding noises while you turn
When you turn the steering wheel, do you hear a grinding noise? If so, this could be caused by the spring insulators. Since the spring insulators are made of rubber and are designed to fit in between two metal parts, the likelihood of grinding noises will increase; especially when you turn the steering wheel and weight is transferred to different sides of the springs. You'll really notice this noise when you turn the steering wheel and drive into a driveway or other, slightly elevated road.
4. Damage to front tires, brakes, and front suspension parts
Besides delivering a comfortable ride, the spring insulators also impact several other functions and components of any vehicle. Some of the more popular parts of a car that are impacted by worn out spring insulators include:
- Front End Vehicle Suspension Alignment
- Front Tire Wear
- Excessive Brake Wear
- Front Suspension Parts including Tie Rods and Struts
As it's clear to see, the spring insulators play a vital part in how your car drives, but also safely navigates the roads we drive on daily. Anytime you experience any of the warning signs indicted above, contact YourMechanic to inspect, diagnose and repair this issue before it causes additional damage to your vehicle.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Symptoms of Bad or Failing Spring Insulators and was authored by Timothy Charlet.