After getting in an accident, you may wonder if alignment affects suspension. How alignment affects suspension is a critical question when you wonder if or when to get your car fixed and what the consequences would be if you declined repairs.
The car’s frame is one of the most crucial components of your vehicle. Without it, your car wouldn’t have anything to hold on to. The car’s frame is designed to incorporate a specific layout of components. The tightly packed nature of automobiles doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room between parts.
When you get in a car accident, even the most insignificant impacts can negatively affect your vehicle’s frame, engine, and cab.
A misaligned vehicle is particularly troublesome. First, it is difficult to realign cars with home maintenance work. Second, misalignments can negatively affect your tires and suspension.
How Your Car’s Suspension Works
Your car’s suspension serves an important function. The suspension is what keeps you and your passengers stable on the road. Without including a suspension, you would not likely be able to drive very fast, at least not without great discomfort. Your suspension absorbs the hits and dips in the road, making your drive much smoother.
Springs can dynamically absorb and distribute the bumps and shocks from hitting the road in a way that makes riding more comfortable.
Most heavy vehicles use leaf springs to support the bulk of the car’s weight and dissipate the shock of impacts. These springs are mounted to the frame and separate it from the body of the vehicle where the passengers are. Most of the shock is absorbed here so that no one riding in the car will feel it.
Leaf springs are most common on ladder frame vehicles. They offer a more practical and economical way to dissipate the energy absorbed through driving.
Many sedans combine springs and shocks as part of their suspension system. The combined version is known as struts.
Struts make excellent suspension systems for sedans. Most sedans have a unibody chassis, meaning the body of the car is also the frame. Unibody vehicles require a more compact suspension system that can integrate the tires with the frame without requiring a separate body and frame.
Struts are smaller, more compact, and lighter than other suspension systems, making them perfect for unibody frames. Their construction effectually coils a spring around a shock to save on space. However, these struts have a higher vertical assembly, so their use for low-riding cars is not ideal.
Vehicles that need to be lower to the ground will use a double-wishbone suspension, a more expensive but more efficient suspension system. The double-wishbone reduces tire camber, the vertical alignment of the tires with the road.
Shocks are not designed to hold the weight of your vehicle. Instead, they work with the other components of your vehicle’s suspension system to absorb the impact of everyday driving.
Shocks are commonly used with leaf springs to dampen the residual bouncing after your vehicle hits a pit or dip. Shocks function more like a restraining force than support. Your vehicle will function fine without shocks but will most likely be a bouncier ride.
Tires are an essential component of your car. There are certain components – like shocks – that your vehicle could function well enough without. The same cannot be said of tires.
Rubber tires are the most effective way of maintaining a smooth ride. They have strength and elasticity that can support a vehicle and keep it from shuddering over every pebble. The suspension enhances this effect, making small bumps unnoticeable. The suspension connects the tires with the chassis.
How suspension works with alignment
A misaligned car may cause damage to the suspension system. The most obvious way is by altering the position of different components that interact with your car’s suspension.
A ladder frame uses the suspension system to attach the bulk of your vehicle's body to the frame. Your engine attaches to the frame and body separately by using engine mounts. These allow the engine a little leeway for rough road conditions.
On a body-on-frame chassis, a misaligned frame can apply pressure to your suspension in a way it hasn’t been designed to handle. A side impact to your vehicle can put sideways stress on your leaf springs. These components aren’t meant to handle sideways stress and can break as a result.
The same kind of damage can hurt the independent suspension systems used in unibody designs. A bent unibody frame can add stress to parts of your vehicle in ways it was not meant to be stressed.
Why alignment is important
If the initial impact or strain on the suspension system doesn’t damage your suspension, the long-term effects probably will.
An impact affecting alignment may change the way your tires connect with the gound. It is important to have a proper alignment so that the unnatural forces don’t start wearing out the components of your shocks as fast. Springs, struts, shocks, and tires can all be negatively affected by a misaligned frame. If the position of any of these is altered, you could possibly wear through components in months instead of years.
A frame misalignment can also affect the way your car drives. Without a properly aligned frame, you may find your vehicle drifts dramatically more to one direction, causing stearing problems.
Realigning Yourself With Schneider Auto
If you go without high-quality repair after you’ve been in a car accident, you could find yourself experiencing car problems long after the accident has occurred. Seemingly small impacts can alter the alignment. Because the alignment affects suspension, you could be experiencing problems with your tires, shocks, and struts months after your insurance paid for your repairs.
Fixing the exterior of your car might make things look better, but attention to interior details is crucial for a well-functioning vehicle. We can address all your repairs at once, so you don’t need to worry about repairs down the road.
Contact us now to see our availability and schedule an appointment for your car repairs!