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If you have ever driven down the road one morning and immediately hear a rattling noise coming from below the vehicle, chances are you are dealing with a rattling suspension.
In most cases, a rattling suspension is often noticed in older vehicles. As your vehicle gets older, the integrity of the components, which make up the suspension, might not work as they should. A loose nut or bolt on the strut is often the main cause and can easily be fixed by simply tightening it back up again when you stop.
However, the suspension of your vehicle is a complicated feat of engineering, designed to help you overcome obstacles on the road and comfortably get over bumps. Leaving the issue could lead to a stiff suspension, which puts too much pressure on other components. We aim to explore some of the common causes of a rattling suspension.
Why Does My Car Suspension Rattle – Top 5 Reasons
Before we reveal some of the major causes, you will need to understand that minor things like your driving style or the route you drive could have an effect. You could be placing more strain on the suspension than necessary. Aside from this issue, here are some of the main causes that lead to a suspension rattling:
1. Worn Out Shocks
Problem: One of the first assumptions people make when dealing with noise is that the shock absorbers have gone. The shock absorbers serve a primary role of absorbing the pressure and weight from the vehicle when it goes over bumps or uneven roads. Worn-out or corroded shocks can cause them to cease their functionality and cause rattling when going over bumps.
Solution: The first thing you should do is stop and inspect the shocks. Corrosion can easily be spotted on the shocks and you can manually push them to see if the spring mechanism still works as it should. In many cases, you simply need to oil the shocks, but severe situations might force you to replace them. The cost for an individual shock can run you as high as $140 without labor.
2. Damaged Suspension Control Arms
Problem: The damaged suspension control arms are often a result of using a vehicle for off-road adventures when the primary design does not accommodate this. Additionally, potholes could damage these control arms, leading to a stiffening of the arms and reducing their functionality. You might even hear a clunking noise when going over bumps.
Solution: Since these control arms are hard to repair, the best solution would be to replace them. However, you can avoid the possibility of this happening when you use the car for its intended purpose of driving on the road. Replacing one of these control arms could easily run you close to $400 for high-end vehicles.
3. Loose Exhaust Pipe
Problem: If you notice a rattling feeling and clunking sound coming from the rear of your vehicle, chances are that it might not be the suspension. With years of driving, you are bound to notice the bolts holding the exhaust come loose. Additionally, it could burn loose if maintenance is not kept up, meaning the suspension constantly rattles.
Solution: There are numerous quick fixes when it comes to tightening up the exhaust. One of these is to simply check if the bolts are secure. However, you might need to replace the exhaust system if too much damage is sustained when you leave it. It could cost you close to $1,200 if the entire exhaust system needs to be replaced.
4. Worn Out Springs
Problem: The springs work with the shock absorbers to allow the vehicle to absorb the shock. Once the vehicle dips, the springs are responsible for pushing it back up to the adequate ride height. Springs need to be cared for and they often need lubrication. Much like your shock absorbers, you might notice rattling when going over bumps.
Solution: The springs might not be as common of a component to get damaged as the shock absorbers, but dealing with worn-out springs can be daunting for any driver. The springs won’t push the car up and the ride might feel uncomfortable. Not to mention, a frustrating rattle often accompanies these springs being worn out.
5. Broken Sway Bar Links
Problem: The main purpose of the sway bar or anti-roll bar is to stabilize the vehicle and keep it steady during cornering. If you notice a knocking noise when cornering your vehicle, it might be broken sway bars that connect to the suspension. This often happens with an aggressive driving style and lack of maintenance like lubrication of these sway bars.
Solution: If the sway bars are about to break, you might be able to salvage them and reinforce them. However, broken sway bars are often cause for visiting your mechanic. You might need to replace the broken sway bar. Fortunately, you can be lucky and only deal with one broken sway bar, making replacement costs much cheaper. You can expect to pay close to $160 per sway bar that needs replacing.
What Does A Failing Suspension Sound Like?
If your suspension is damaged, one of the first things you would notice is a sound coming from below the vehicle. There are four main sounds, which could be clunking, grunting, rattling, and knocking. Each of these could point to something with damage. The rattling sound is most commonly associated with shock absorbers or worn-out springs.
Can I Drive My Car With A Rattling Suspension?
For some drivers, the problem causing the rattle is only noticeable when going over bumps or cornering. However, the suspension is a fundamental part of the car that holds many of the components together and ensures a smooth ride. By leaving the suspension to rattle, you could put other components at risk. This could lead to major repair costs.