Q Lately I’ve noticed that my car has developed a surprisingly harsh ride. Small bumps in the road result in teeth-clenching hits through the seat. It’s got to the point where I don’t even want to drive it anymore. What’s going on?
A It’s not uncommon for ride comfort to degrade as a car ages. Rubber parts and springs wear out, which changes how the suspension absorbs road imperfections.
But before you go blaming your suspension, check your tyre pressure. Low pressure or really high pressure will result in a jarring ride.
If the pressure is normal, then it’s time for a simple test of your shocks. Go to the front bumper and quickly press down with your body weight; then immediately release it and watch what the suspension does. A properly functioning suspension should react with about a bounce and a half, like a football a little down on air. If the car bounces beyond that (two oscillations or more), you probably need new shocks.
Another possibility, although less likely, is that the springs have begun to slouch. A lower car will hit the suspension limit sooner and that means nasty bumps are directly transmitted to the frame. Have a mechanic compare the free-spring length to factory specs to see if you need new ones.