DIY Diagnose a Bad Suspension

DIY Diagnose a Bad Suspension
Posted in: How To and Tips

So, you have a Squeaky Suspension?

Learn How to Diagnose That Squeaking Noise Over Bumps

When you’re driving, if you notice a loud or subtle squeaking, creaking, or clunking sound from under your car, there are a few different potential causes. We have some tips and steps to follow to DIY diagnose your squeaky suspension.

Suspension Noise: How to DIY Diagnose that Squeak

DIY Mechanics Note: Before you crawl under and start pushing suspension stuff around, grab a few things to help you. Goggles, mechanic’s gloves, or thick work gloves, and a rubber mallet will come in very useful when diagnosing your suspension.

What Can Cause a Squeaking Noise in Your Suspension?

1. Loose and Broken Suspension Parts

Look to see if there are any obvious broken suspension parts like car shocks, coil springs, or leaf springs. Excessively loud suspension noise is usually a sign of broken parts. If you do not locate any broken parts, search for loose suspension parts. The movement of loose parts can contribute to suspension squeaks and clunking noise.

2. Suspension Parts Have Shifted

Out-of-place parts may contribute to the suspension noise. If a part like a chassis bolt shifts, it can get in the way of other moving parts which would cause a squeaking or clunking suspension. Checking for the residue of a washer may let you know if any bolts or other parts are out of place.

DIY Mechanic’s Note: On a suspension, both sides should be a mirror image of each other. Check one side to see if matches the other side. Check to make sure the bushings are spaced properly from side to side, same for washers, rings, etc. If one doesn’t match the other, that’s likely the culprit.

3. Damaged Bushings

Look for cracked, crumbling, and damaged bushings the suspension parts. If the front bushings are crumbled, cracked, or broken down, they should be replaced. Any sign of damage to the bushings could cause the squeaking and clunking sounds.

4. Standard Part Stress and Wear and Tear

What is “standard part stress?” It’s a fancy way of saying general wear and tear. Any time you have moving parts, especially if they move against other parts, you experience standard wear and tear or

part stress. So, look for parts that have scratches and worn marks from touching or constant friction.

DIY Diagnosing and Fixing a Creaking Suspension

Suspension Parts That Are Damaged or have Shifted

It can be hard to imagine just how much precision goes into a car or truck's functional systems. If you notice scrapes and scratches on your shocks a minor adjustment of 3mm or so could be all the change you need to eliminate the awful suspension sounds.

Shock Replacement

First, let’s replace the scratched-up shocks. Jack up the rear suspension under the control arm when replacing the shocks. Then lower the car and test drive it. If the squeaking and thumping sound is gone the issue should be resolved. If the suspension noises are still there, move to step 4.

Suspension Adjustments

Loosen the cradle bolts and bolts on the forward part of the lateral arm. Now you may need a prybar or breaker bar to shift the suspension into place. You may need to relieve pressure on the control arm again with a jack. You should repeat the steps on the other side of the rear suspension. If this doesn’t resolve the thumping and squeaking suspension noise, continue checking for loose or damaged suspension parts. Lightly tapping with the rubber mallet is a great way to see if things are loose.

Has the Suspension Shifted

You can often tell by marks on the frame and suspension parts if your suspension has shifted. These marks will likely look like newer metal than the rest of the undercarriage because they were covered and protected from the road conditions for a while. In the case the whole suspension has shifted due to an accident, potholes, rough roads, off-roading, or any number of things, engaging the help of a mechanic with a lift and proper tools could be helpful.

DIY Mechanics Notes: Penetrating oil is your friend when working on the undercarriage of a car or truck. Those nuts and bolts get corroded and are super hard to remove. A little patience and a little more penetrating oil may just save your tools, your back, your knuckles, and your sanity.


When it comes to replacement suspension parts, PartsHawk.com is your one-stop shop for online truck and car parts at competitive prices and super-fast shipping. Contact us today at (650) 560-4295 and speak to an auto part professional with questions or help to find the right parts for your car.

19 days ago
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