Every once in a while, a potentially serious symptom of damage presents itself. But, through quick action and trust in your mechanic, you are able to take the opportunity to calm your fears and settle your nerves without spending a dime. This happened to our webmaster this week when he brought his vehicle into the shop complaining about a knock from the rear suspension whenever he would go over a speed bump. Since he works on our blog each week, the plan was to turn this untimely symptom into a blog post for our “Question & Answer” series. But instead, he learned that through the eyes of an experienced mechanic something that seems serious can turn out to be completely benign.
Knocking or rattling from your suspension, generally speaking, can be an early indicator of damage that is in need of repair. There tends to be 4 different types of sounds or symptoms, each pointing to a different culprit. Some are more serious than others, but they all require a repair to get you back on the road safely.
- Knocking Sound: Especially noticeable when going over bumps or turning corners, it likely indicates worn-out shocks are causing your coil springs to vibrate wildly against your vehicle’s chassis.
- Grunting or Squeaking: Usually occurs on bumps or turns, indicating your front steering mechanism is wearing out.
- Rusty Creaking: Bad ball joints in your suspension may be described as sounding like rusty door hinges when you move up and down or back and forth.
- Rattles: These are more difficult to diagnose, since many parts of the suspension can make this noise when starting to wear out.
With all of these potential dangers surrounding the symptom it is obviously important to get the car in for a quick diagnosis as soon as you can. Some of those symptoms can wait, but it is better to get the diagnosis and then start saving instead of waiting and hoping it is not something more serious. This is how opportunity knocks. When you take the time to come in and see your mechanic, especially when you have a long lasting relationship with them, they are able to set you at ease, give you a reasonable timeframe for the repair, and help you prepare for any future costs in advance.
What ended up happening with Mr. Webmaster’s car? Well, we were reminded that even with all the differential diagnoses you can go through behind the scenes, there is no replacement for getting your hands dirty and taking a look inside. What did we find? Not a worn sway bar or worn shocks. Not a bad ball joint or broken strut. Instead, I reached in under the suspension coil spring and pulled out a big chunk of concrete that had wedged itself within the coil. On big speed bumps, the coil would try to compress, but would be hindered by the obstruction making a huge knocking sound. We pulled out the blockage and him back on the road in a few minutes with all of his fears eliminated.
Final Word: Does your vehicle show any symptoms of a potentially serious problem but you have been too afraid to get it checked? We think these symptoms are the sound of opportunity knocking; It might be something completely innocuous and we could have your fears eliminated in a jiffy. That’s what we are here for.