The chassis works hidden from view so that in many instances, damage can only be discovered in the automobile repair workshop. Even minor causes can sometimes have dangerous repercussions. Vehicle safety is quickly compromised, particularly whenever the chassis components are worn. The experts from ZF Services therefore recommend that workshops regularly carry out a chassis check on every vehicle. If problems are identified during this check, these need to be pointed out to the owner and immediate action should be taken.
Abnormal handling and unusual noises are often indicative of faulty chassis components. It is not always the shock absorbers that are affected though. Other chassis components such as the ball joints on the tie rods or the suspension strut mounts in the suspension strut dome are also subject to natural wear. Since many of these components involve sealed units, the signs of wear can only be seen once the component has been removed from the vehicle.
As an important axle-mounting component, the suspension strut mount connects the body to the chassis. Unlike the support bearings on the rear axle, the suspension strut mount has to be able to turn in order to facilitate the steering and rotational movements of the suspension strut. To this end, a rubber-to-metal component tends to be used on volume production vehicles, with a rolling bearing fitted in the center. The metal ensures the necessary stability, the rubber takes care of the required flexibility, and the rolling bearing ensures the rotatability.
Cracking sounds indicate damage
Where the natural wear of the suspension strut mount exceeds a certain point, the steering may become unsafe. Cornering may feel spongy and unstable. Cracking sounds can also often be heard. At this point, it is high time to take a close look at the chassis. When removing chassis components, every workshop professional will be aware of the large amount of work involved. Depending on the vehicle type, it may be necessary, for instance, to remove the suspension strut, move the stabilizer out of the way, and separate the shock absorber and steering knuckle from each other. To replace a faulty suspension strut mount, the suspension strut will need to be taken apart. However, this effort is worthwhile as it means the driver is then safe and comfortable on the road once again.
The tie rods are also candidates for wear in the chassis. The ball joints on the tie rods suffer with every small bump as the wheels hit the curb, every pothole, and every time the vehicle moves onto the road shoulder. The tie-rod ends, for instance, can wear out over time – without the driver noticing anything at first. The upshot may be compromised axle geometry and unstable vehicle handling. If the workshop professional notices problems with the tie rods or associated ball joints, action needs to be taken immediately, just like with the worn suspension strut mounts.
Prevent expensive repairs down the line
If they are replaced in good time, new suspension strut mounts and/or new tie-rod ball joints not only enhance safety and ride comfort. Replacing these components can also help prevent expensive repairs down the line. Most customers appreciate the expert advice provided by their workshop. Repairs to steering and wheel suspension components therefore also took top slot in the latest DAT Report for 2014.
Experts from ZF Services also recommend using OEM quality products for replacements. Like all spare parts from ZF Services, the Lemförder chassis and steering components are tailored exactly to the respective vehicle and thus retain the vehicle's original quality. Right across all vehicle brands and models, as you would expect.
In the spare parts market, there are also often offers of secondary quality products that have, for instance, a different material specification. However, the part manufacturer cannot verify what effect this has on how this particular spare part operates in conjunction with the other vehicle components due to the lack of specifications from the automotive manufacturer. Ultimately, the driver has to accept the possible risk of reducing the service life of the other chassis components.
With more than 13 000 steering and chassis components for passenger cars and commercial vehicles, the ZF Services brand Lemförder is already a well-established partner in the spare parts business. As a leading development partner for automotive manufacturers, ZF is synonymous with quality, comfort, and safety. To provide workshops with a visual illustration of what a professional chassis check entails, ZF Services has produced a video. Watch it here!