Suspension & Steering Service
Automotive Suspension / Steering Service & Repair
Spring Works in Santa Rosa, CA is a complete automotive suspension/steering service and repair shop that specializes in suspension and steering. We repair, design, and supply suspension system components for all types of vehicles. Whether you have worn ball joints, tie rods, control arms, shocks, struts, or bushings we can diagnose the problem and provide repair options. Suspension specialist... Get It Done Right.
We have been providing expert service to our guests, automotive repair facilities, city agencies, dealerships, large fleets, and the armored car industry for over 25 years. We provide OEM suspension parts, aftermarket suspension parts, and custom suspension parts. Our suspension and steering services cover all makes and models of cars, trucks, trailers, motor homes, heavy trucks, and custom applications.
What do your suspension and steering systems do?
In order to know if you have a problem with your steering or suspension system, you need to understand what they do and how they impact your driving. Here’s a quick rundown of the systems and how they interconnect.
The name doesn’t quite give away the full purpose of your vehicle’s suspension system. This system is what connects your vehicle to its wheels. By doing this, it ensures a comfortable ride for you and your passengers, even when you drive on bumpy roads. It also keeps your vehicle’s wheels on the ground to provide traction.
The suspension system has to be tuned precisely. We use a combination of shock absorbers and springs to maximize comfort and safety for drivers and passengers.
This system is what allows you to guide, or steer, your vehicle. Most cars use either a rack and pinion or steering box steering system. On some large vehicles, the steering system is power-assisted. This reduces the effort that it takes to move it, which is especially important when the car isn’t going fast.
The steering system is connected to the suspension system by means of the steering column and pivoted joints. This is what allows the wheels to move up and down as you drive down the road without changing the angle of your steering. The steering system makes sure your wheels turn adequately and as the road requires.
If you notice changes in how your car, truck, or SUV steers, it’s time to bring it in for an inspection. The steering system needs to be adjusted with extreme precision, as any sort of looseness in the joints can quickly turn your steering into a dangerous situation.
When to inspect your vehicle’s steering and suspension
Your vehicle’s steering and suspension systems are critical for keeping you safe when you’re driving. They’re also important for keeping you comfortable by preventing you from feeling every bump and rumble on the road.
Here are some guidelines for when you should you bring your vehicle in to get your steering and suspension systems inspected:
● Every 50,000 miles
● When you replace your tires
● When you service your brakes
● When you have your oil and filters changed
● Anytime your car is in for routine service and the steering and suspension systems are easy to access.
● If you are involved in an accident that damages your front wheels or suspension
● If you are involved in an accident and notice any changes in your vehicle’s steering and suspension afterward
In addition to the above, you should also bring your vehicle in for a steering and suspension inspection if you notice any of these more serious symptoms that one or both of these systems are in need of maintenance.
● Nosedives, squats, and rolls: When you feel your car nosediving forward, squatting backward, or rolling from side to side when you turn the wheel
● Bottoming out: Your car can bottom out if it doesn’t have the suspension support it needs to absorb the bump that it’s driving over.
● Bouncing over road bumps: When your vehicle keeps bouncing after you’ve driven over a bump.
● Bumpy ride: When you feel every single bump in the road, even if the road isn’t very bumpy.
● Bump steer: When your wheels turn to the left or right after your car hits a bump but you didn’t touch the steering wheel.
● Oversteer or understeer: Especially prevalent on slippery road surfaces this is when your car’s front or rear loses traction as you round a corner.
● Hard steering: When you struggle to turn your steering wheel
● Loose steering: When steering is overly easy
● Wandering car: When your car seems to wander down the road unless you are holding the steering wheel in place.
● Jerking steering wheel: When your steering wheel jerks for no apparent reason at random intervals.
● Vibrating steering wheel: When your vehicle and steering wheel start to vibrate. This usually happens around 45 mph.
● Wobbly steering wheel: When your steering wheel wobbles from left to right as you drive.
● Strange noises: You might hear a clunking or squeaking sound as you turn a corner. You could also hear a whining noise coming from the steering unit when you turn the wheel.
What We Check
If you haven’t experienced any of the above, that’s good news. You should still have your steering and suspension systems checked on an annual basis. This ensures your vehicle is safe to drive and prevents you from dealing with unpleasant surprises down the road.
When you bring your vehicle into Spring Works for a steering and suspension inspection, we’ll do the following:
● Test drive and check for vehicle nosedives, bounce, rolls, and squats
● Test drive and check for noises, vibrations and overall handling
● Check all steering components for wear, damage, and leaks
● Check all suspension components for wear and damage
● Inspect your struts & shocks for responsiveness, leaks and bushing wear
● Bounce your vehicle to see how your shocks and struts are functioning
● Manually look for wobble, uneven tire wear, and imbalance in all your tires
● Make sure the power steering system is functioning properly
Schedule your steering and suspension inspection today
With decades of experience working with specialized suspension and supplying and servicing suspension products, you’ll find that the expertise we have here at Spring Works is unparalleled. Make an appointment today for a complimentary suspension inspection. Get it done right
Short Guide to Suspension Systems
When engineers made the first suspension system, cars were in a very rudimentary stage. At that time, complex engineering concepts had not taken shape and vehicle manufacturers did not have access to the advanced technology we have today. Instead, motorcars were made by adapting and improving horse carriages. So, suspension systems were practically nonexistent. It wasn’t until a few years had passed and the engineers had done their research that the modern suspension system started to take shape. Thanks to their efforts, every automobile in the world got a suspension system, and riding in a car became a matter of comfort. Luckily, the development work continued and suspension systems kept on improving. Soon, automotive manufacturers realized that suspension wasn’t just about enhancing ride comfort, but a lot could be gained by tweaking the suspension for performance.
The duo of horsepower and torque could only do so much before reaching the height of their abilities. If they worked together with the suspension, the car could go much faster, especially around corners.
But how can a few pieces of metal help improve performance? The secret lies in how a suspension system works.
How Does Suspension Work?
When you drive a car on the road, the tires constantly absorb the force of impact from potholes and uneven road surfaces. The effect is multiplied when the vehicle is moving fast. But the tires alone do not possess the ability to soak up all of that energy. The remainder has to go somewhere! In the case of an automobile, the force travels up to the suspension that protects the chassis from feeling the impact. As a result, the car becomes smoother and more comfortable to drive. Imagine, what would happen without an intervening structure. The chassis would feel the full force of the impact, leading to damage in the form of cracks and kinks. Fortunately, modern suspension systems do not allow something like this to happen. They have evolved over time and they are now capable of absorbing unbelievable amounts of force.
The modern suspension system performs such miracles with the help of its various components.
Let’s take a look at the major suspension parts and the role they play in making your riding experience more comfortable.
The Major Suspension Components. The suspension system comprises three main components: The spring, damper, and sway bar. When these three come together and work in harmony, the vehicle feels no bumps and you get a smooth driving experience.
There are four main types of springs used in cars today. Let's discuss each one briefly before going further with the dampers and sway bars.
These springs are the most popular. Not only in cars, but in many other machines as well. That's mostly because of their simple design and impenetrable construction. When force is applied to the coil spring, the metal compresses and absorbs all of the energy, transferring only a minuscule amount to the frame.
When you bunch up layers of straightened metal pieces with varying levels of flexibility, you get what we call leaf springs. This design is quite old and one of the first to be used by cars and horse carriages back in the day. You can still find leaf springs but mostly in heavy-duty vehicles.
using a steel bar to absorb force is a concept used by engineers for quite some time. In torsion bars, one end is attached to the frame and the other is linked with a wishbone that runs parallel to the tire. Once the wheel goes over a bump, the wishbone transfers the force over to the torsion bar. It twists and returns to its place once the road surface evens out. The torsion bar is a unique concept but it is not very common nowadays.
These springs are relatively new and they work on a very simplified concept. A cylinder of air is placed between the chassis and the wheel. Once the wheel experiences a bump or vibration, the air chamber compresses and decompresses to control the force of the impact. You can find this in most modern vehicles.
Dampers - Shocks & Struts
The springs soak up the energy from the impact, but when they try to return to their original state, the release is unpredictable. This can result in bouncing and loss of traction. So, to control the erratic nature of a spring, the suspension system has dampers. The dampers or shock absorbers, as they are commonly called, further dampen the vibrations and control the release of energy that goes back to the wheels. If you remove the shock absorber from the equation, the car will become unstable and its erratic movement would cause you to lose control of the vehicle. The damping mechanism is easy to understand. Inside the cylindrical shell, there is a piston, oil, pressure tube, and a reserve cylinder. When the car goes over a bump, the piston rod pushes down on the oil into the pressure tube. The oil naturally restricts this compression, which is how the damper absorbs force. Once the impact passes through, the piston moves back to its original state slowly and gradually. Meanwhile, it makes sure the spring is also moving in tandem with the internal damper piston to its original state.
The strut design is an oversimplified suspension system that is highly effective. As a result, you can find this technology in the majority of cars on the road today.
In this design, the damper is fitted within the spring, giving the shock absorber more control over the spring’s erratic movement. All the other suspension systems have the dampers and springs put separately, which is not a very efficient way of reducing vibrations.
The suspension system not only controls vertical movement, but the system also has a solution for lateral movement. This comes into play when you turn the car around corners. When you turn the steering wheel, all the weight is transferred over to the outer wheel, which absorbs the weight of the vehicle, using the damper and spring. However, the suspension has its limits and it can only absorb a certain amount of force before failing. If that happens, the vehicle rolls over and crashes. Luckily, engineers found a way to prevent that from happening. They introduced sway bars into the equation, to stabilize the car against such episodes. The sway bar attaches to the lower end of both suspension struts, and it distributes the weight from one end of the suspension to the other. This way, when you turn, the inner strut absorbs more energy than before. The car doesn’t sway too much in corners, which allows you to attack the turn with much more confidence.
You can find many other suspension components in modern cars. But the foundation is made on the three we discussed above. All the other parts enhance the experience even further. But it is possible to survive without them, although we discourage that. After all, seeing the types of potholes and bumps we have on roads today, any extra help is not only useful but necessary.