A vehicle’s suspension system is the first line of defense against abnormal driving conditions and normal wear and tear. Cars need to be responsive, reliable and durable for the long haul, and this all rests on the suspension — literally.
Front-end suspension varies from rear-end suspension by model, but let’s assume that the majority of passenger cars on the road today are also front-steering. The steering and suspension systems are intimately involved, as they work together to enable steering while also protecting components and handling vibrations and changes in terrain. A problem with one part can quickly cause damage or premature wear to others.
You might understand how important front-end suspension is for your car, but do you know the names and jobs of its different components? Take this quiz to find out.
1. Whether driving on rough roads or down a highway, your vehicle’s undercarriage takes big hits and needs to effectively cushion bumps. Almost all front-end suspension components use _______ to dampen and smooth the damaging effects of vibration.
- vibration plugs
2. Tie rod ends help to cushion the sudden jolts to the vehicle’s undercarriage when driving over rough roads while also allowing movement between the tie rod, steering knuckle and center link. One possible sign of a worn tie rod end is ________.
- uneven tire wear
- a low brake pedal
- excessive body bounce
3. The _______’s main job is to support the pitman arm, allowing a pivoting motion while holding it at the right height. In turn, this keeps the steering system from becoming loose.
- idler arm
- control arm
- suspension bushing
4. Where _______ are easily detachable tubes of compressed gas or oil, _______ are more fully integrated into a vehicle’s suspension, and removal may involve compressing a high tension spring. Both components should be replaced ________.
- struts; shock absorbers; with vice grips
- dampener tubes; struts; every three years
- shock absorbers; struts; in pairs
5. A ball joint is used as a connection between components when _______ motion is required.
6. Some tell-tale signs of a worn _______ are an unstable feeling when turning, a knocking sound over bumps and excessive leaning around corners.
- pitman arm bushing
- sway bar link
- tie rod
7. Which vital part connects the steering gear box to the pitman arm to help transmit rotational force from the steering wheel to the tires?
- Tie rod ends
- Sway bar
- Drag link
Answers: 1b, 2a, 3a, 4c, 5a, 6b, 7c
1-3: Call a Professional. You know a thing or two about cars, but maybe read a few more NAPA KnowHow articles before taking on any tasks by yourself. If you’re experiencing trouble with a suspension component, make sure to get it checked by a mechanic.
4-6: Experienced DIYer. You’ve clearly tinkered with a car or three in your garage. Knowing the purpose and placement of each front-end suspension component can help you diagnose problems before they cause widespread damage, which can have dangerous consequences for steering and handling.
7: Automotive Authority. You could’ve written this quiz yourself.
Check out all the steering and suspension products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on front-end suspension, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy of Blair Lampe.