Suspension and Steering Repair Services

Is your car bouncing like it belongs on the cover of Low Rider magazine, but you don’t have hydraulic shocks? You have suspension issues. Perhaps even more important to your safety than brakes, your steering and suspension are key in getting you where you want to go. Your suspension’s job is to keep the wheels planted firmly on the ground while shielding you from bumps and vibration. Without a good suspension your brakes must work harder to stop you, your tires bounce and develop flat spots, and you risk losing control. If damaged suspension parts are not repaired, it could eventually lead to a wheel coming off! If you suspect any problems with your suspension, let us check it for you.

Services Offered

  • Shock/Strut ReplacementStruts (most commonly known as “shocks”) are high pressure gas cylinders that are designed to keep your car off the ground and your springs extended. Usually the first indication of a bad strut is a bit of vibration at the wheel. This is because the strut has lost pressure and is unable to keep the spring tight. After a while, the car will start to sit slightly lower at the wheel with a bad strut. A simple test that works with most cars is to push the car down above each wheel. If the car bounces more than 2 or 3 times, the strut at that wheel is bad. Another sign is when the inner section starts rubbing the outer section. When replacing struts, it is recommended that you do them in left-right pairs (i.e. both front or both rear). The reason for this is that both shocks have experienced similar conditions and the failure of one is usually followed soon by the failure of the other.
  • McPherson/Coil-Over ReplacementThe type of struts that have a spring mounted onto the assembly are known as McPherson struts and adjustable versions are commonly called coil-overs. They work exactly the same as regular struts and cause the same issues when they go bad.
  • Tie Rod ReplacementIf your car drifts to one side (or randomly to either) when driving straight, has excessive free play in the steering (steering wheel moves without immediately turning the wheels), or you have a lot of vibration on your front end, you may have worn tie rods. On pitman arm steering systems, sometimes these problems can be due to a worn steering gear, which will affect both wheels. Steering gears can usually be tightened without any need for replacement parts. Tie rods connect the rack and pinion (or steering arm) to the front wheels. When they develop slack, the wheel is not held firmly in the position it should be, which can cause any of the above listed problems in addition to wearing down the edge of your tires. This is a problem that needs to be addressed before it makes steering unpredictable and unsafe. Usually, if caught soon enough, only the tie rod ends and not the inner tie rods are all that need to be replaced.
  • Control Arm ReplacementControl arms hold your wheels in position relative to the body of the car. When the bushings wear out, the control arm will move more than it should which may cause unpredictable swaying or swerving, wheel bounce (which may affect braking), and increase wear around the edges of the tire. If a control arm is bent, the car may drive as if someone is trying to turn the wheel to one side or hold the car at an odd angle. Bending a control arm is rare, but can happen by running over a curb or large pothole with considerable force.
  • Sway Bar RepairA sway bar keeps the wheels in position relative to the opposite wheel and the body of the car. This is especially important in turns, because the outside wheel will naturally try to pull outward. When the bushings or linkages wear out, you will feel your car seem to lean toward the outside of the turn. This is normally a lesser swaying than when the swaying is caused by worn ball joints. Often you will also hear a rattle in your suspension that most people mistake for an issue with the struts and springs. Problems with the sway bar will affect vehicle handling, especially in wet weather and in turns, and should be addressed as soon as possible. Most sway bars are easy to get to and will be cheap to repair.
  • Torsion Bar RepairMany trucks, especially those intended for heavy hauling, have torsion bars. These are thick beams of steel that provide extra down-force for the front wheels. They are meant to keep the truck from dipping down in the front during braking and turning. These rarely go bad, but when they do, you will know it. They are under a lot of tension, so if an end comes loose, you will hear a loud bang as it strikes other parts or the ground.
  • Ball Joint ReplacementIf your car suddenly sways to the side without you turning the wheel (or sways opposite of how you turn), this is usually caused by very worn ball joints. Occasionally tie rod ends and, on some cars, worn control arm bushings can cause a similar feeling. No matter what the cause, this is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately. If the occasional unexpected swaying isn’t enough reason for you to get it seen to, consider that the next thing that is likely to happen is the joint separating… causing your wheel to pop out of the wheel well and your car to drop hard onto the ground. Depending on speed and location of the failed wheel, it may even cause the car to flip. Don’t let a fixable problem turn into an unaffordable nightmare.
  • Power Steering Pump ReplacementUsually a power steering pump will make a loud groaning noise while turning when it is low on fluid. Ford power steering pumps have a tendency to make this noise even when they are full, but it is usually much quieter than when the fluid is low. Power steering systems are closed loop (meaning all the fluid that is in the system is cycled back through the system) and do not consume fluid, so if your fluid is low, you have a leak.
  • Power Steering Hose Repair and ReplacementA leaking power steering hose makes your system lose pressure and fluid which could cause unpredictable handling and possibly cause a fire (see below warning). Leaks in power steering hoses are often due to low pressure hoses hardening and the clamps on them not holding tight enough. Leaks in high pressure lines are usually caused by being hit by road debris. If a hose ever explodes, you likely have a major clog in the high pressure side of your steering system or too much heat from nearby exhaust parts.
  • Rack and Pinion Repair and ReplacementA rack and pinion system is entirely contained within the rack and pinion assembly. It does not contain any parts that are easily serviceable due to its location in the car, but can be removed to be repaired. A leak from the rack and pinion is usually due to a loose or damaged power steering hose, but in worse cases may come from a worn seal.
  • Pitman Arm ReplacementPitman arm steering has been around since the car was invented and has not changed much in those 100 years. Today a pitman arm steering system consists of the steering gear box, pitman arm, steering arm, and idler arm. It is very rare for a pitman arm system to leak fluid from anything other than the pump or hoses. Designs differ slightly, but each will contain several ball joints as well as the idler arm shaft that need to be firm and filled with grease to function properly.
  • Idler Arm ReplacementOn pitman arm steering systems, the idler arm holds the side of the steering arm opposite of the pitman arm. Its only function is to keep the steering arm in the right position to allow the outside wheel to turn properly. Like many suspension parts, it requires regular greasing to prevent wear. If it develops slack it can affect steering and must be replaced.
  • Steering Arm ReplacementOn pitman arm steering systems, the steering arm is attached to the wheels by tie rods and floats between the pitman and idler arms. The pitman arm controls which way the steering arm moves, which makes the wheels turn. Steering arms may only have sockets for ball joints to attach or may contain the ball joints for attaching to pitman and idler arms. The ball joints must be greased to prevent wear. Bending the steering arm is rare, but may happen if components have lots of slack for long periods or if the vehicle hits something that forces the wheel to be turned out of alignment.
  • Steering Gear AdjustmentOn pitman arm steering systems, if your car drifts to one side (or randomly to either) when driving straight, has excessive free play in the steering (steering wheel moves without immediately turning the wheels), or you have a lot of vibration on your front end, you may have a worn steering gear, which will affect both wheels. Steering gears can usually be tightened without any need for replacement parts.
  • Tire RotationTire rotation is the process of moving tires around the car to make them wear down more evenly. The main reason this is done is to increase the amount of tread available on the front wheels, which handle steering and the majority of braking.
  • Plug Flat TiresVibration at the wheels can be caused by wear in any suspension components, but it can also be caused by a problem with the tires. Low or excessive tire pressure can both cause vibration, so be sure to inflate your tires properly. If you have a leak due to a hole in the tread, we may be able to plug it to save you the expense of a new tire. Out of balance tires cause vibration that tends to get worse at higher speeds. We can not balance tires at our shop, but we can usually tell you if this is an issue.
  • Suspension LubeSqueaking noises are almost always due to suspension components drying out. Ball joints, tie rod ends, and some sway bar links use a ball-in-socket design that is filled with grease. Often the rubber boots that hold the grease in develop cracks or tears due to age and wear. When this happens, the boots need to be replaced; and depending on the condition of the component, it may need to be replaced also. If the boots are in good condition and the squeaking component has a grease fitting (most aftermarket & heavy duty factory parts), refilling it may be all that is required.
  • If you don’t see the service you require listed above, call us at 404-366-9466. We probably just forgot to list it here.

A warning about power steering leaks near exhaust parts:

Power steering fluid and the automatic transmission fluid used in some power steering systems are flammable when exposed to enough heat. Cars have burned up because of power steering leaks spraying on exhaust parts and starting a fire. If you have a power steering leak, check to make sure that it is not near or able to spray onto the exhaust. If it is, do not drive the car. It only takes about 1-2 miles of driving for the exhaust to be hot enough to ignite the power steering fluid. If it is your only vehicle and you must use it, drain the power steering fluid. (Please catch and dispose of the fluid properly if you do this yourself. We at U Winn and most auto parts stores offer free oil disposal.) You will still be able to steer, but it will require much more effort at low speeds.

A note about suspension repairs and wheel alignment:

Proper wheel alignment is important because it reduces tire wear, decreases stopping distance, and protects the suspension from undue stresses. Any time tie rods, tie rods ends, control arms, and certain spindles and McPherson struts are replaced, you will need an alignment. Alignment shops do not replace these parts and they will not do an alignment if they notice excessive wear or damage to them. In the off chance that you have defects that the alignment shop misses and they do the alignment, it will not be correct since the part will still be able to move to another position in its worn socket. In short, you need to be sure your suspension is not damaged before getting an alignment and you should get an alignment immediately after suspension repairs. When you get your repairs done at U Winn, we can take it to get aligned afterward, so you don’t have to miss more time from work or family.

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