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Clanking Banging or Slanting Car or Truck Broken Coil Spring

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Created on: 2020-08-27

This video shows you how to diagnose broken or damaged coil springs on your vehicle's suspension.

Oh, man. Unbelievable.

Hey, friends, it's Len here from 1A Auto. Today, we were driving around in our vehicle, and we happened to notice a little bit of banging and clanging coming from the rear of the vehicle. I happened to notice it generally when I was going over bumps, especially big bumps. It didn't only happen then. Sometimes it happened just rattling driving down the road, which, of course, was very nerve-wracking, and I was kind of wondering what was going on. I pulled over to the side of the road and I tried to figure out what was happening, and what I noticed was the left rear was kind of sitting sagging down very low. That kind of tells me where I'd like to start looking, so that's exactly where I'm going to start, but I'm not going to end there. Let's get over to the vehicle.

Okay. So, we're at the vehicle. What we need to do now is give it a little jounce test. And what I mean by that is just shake it around. I'm gonna come right up back here, right on this side. I'm watching to see how many times the suspension oscillates, or basically goes up and down. It doesn't seem like it went up and down very many times, but something that I can notice just by looking at it. Wow. The suspension is not looking very good. It just dropped down. I don't know exactly what's going on back there, so I can't wait to check it out. But let's look at the gap right here, that doesn't look like very much. I'm going to grab my tape measure, give it a little look. We'll call it 26 inches. It might be a little more, it might be a little bit less, but that's close. Let's go over to the other rear and give it a look.

Oh yeah, that's a much bigger gap right there. Let's go ahead and do this. So, right there, I can tell I'm looking at about 27 and 1/2, maybe 27 and 3/8. Either way, it's definitely not the 26 mark. The left rear is sitting much lower than the right rear. I'm also going to give this a little jounce, just because I want to see what's going on. That doesn't feel too bad. Now, let's go ahead and do the same to the front. I found that the right front was at approximately 30 inches, and the left front was at approximately 28 and 3/4 inches. So, yes, the left front was significantly lower than the right front. We don't want to just assume that there's a problem with the right front, but we also don't want to rule it out. So, I always check all four corners, no matter what. But I want to tell you that if there's a major problem in the rear, it's going to affect the front as well. So, let's go check it out.

Okay. So, we've got the vehicle up in the air and we've got the wheel off so we have a nice, clear view of what's going on. The first thing that I want to check, of course, is the suspension. If you were to look right along the backside here, we have a coil spring. The coil spring's designed to take most of the impact when you hit a bump driving down the road. So, that's the first place I like to look. I'm just going to carefully run my fingers across it. You want to make sure that you watch for any cracks or discrepancies. I can feel right here that I actually have a very big break. I've got almost an extra coil spring hanging out down here. I'm going to keep following it, and I can see actually that it's broken and it's hitting up against the body right there. So, this coil spring right here is no good. It's not fixable, and, of course, it's very dangerous overall. If it was to completely separate and come off, there's a possibility it could come down, hit the road, and who knows what happens after that.

With the coil spring being broken and hitting up against the body right here, of course, you're going to hear creaks and groans, especially as you sway or go over bumps driving down the road. Something else I like to mention when I'm talking about coils is your issue might not be as apparent as ours, where ours is actually physically broken and you can see that very easily. Sometimes they're broken and you can't see it because if this piece was to break off and just come away from the vehicle, and all you see is this up here, it might be easy to miss it because it looks pretty good. With that said, you always want to check your coil springs close to the top and very close to the bottom. Those are the two most common places for them to break. Something else that I would mention about coil springs though is if it looks like they're rusted or rotted, or even starting to crack in any areas, it's more than likely going to be an issue where it's going to separate soon, and it really only makes sense to just go ahead and replace them.

So, wanna make sure that your coil spring isn't sitting off-kilter. It needs to be pretty much sitting straight up and down between the beginning point and the ending point, or the top and the bottom. If you happen to notice that your spring is sitting off-kilter, or not straight up and down between the top and the bottom points, you might also happen to notice that it's sitting very close to your suspension. If that's the case, as the suspension travels up and down, there's a possibility that this could rub, and, of course, cause noise, same thing like up along the top. Now, if you find something wrong with one coil spring, it only makes sense to go over and check the other side. But in all actuality, you'd want to replace them both as a pair.

Something else you want to pay attention to is your shock on your vehicle. If it looks like this and brand new, more than likely, it's probably pretty good. But if it looks like this one right here, where it looks like the fluid's coming out of it, obviously, this is going to be no good. If it looks like it's rusted or anything like that, that's something to think about, but it's not necessarily a problematic issue where you'd want to dispose of it. But generally speaking, if your coil spring is bad, it's going to be putting extra force on your shock as well. So, that's just something you'd want to think about. If you're replacing the springs, you'd want to replace the shock at the same time.

So, we checked out the rear coil springs. We found that there was one bad. That might not be the case for you. Maybe your vehicle was sagging in the front. That led me to the front, because I want to show you what you should look for here. In the front of most vehicles, what you're going to find is a coilover strut, which basically means that you have a coil, and it goes around or over your strut unit. If you were trying to diagnose to see if the coil was broken, you would feel around the same way as you did before. You might notice that it has a little bit of a padding around it, so it might be a little bit difficult to find. But if you could take your spring and go like this with your suspension unloaded, and for some reason, it went up and down, more than likely you have a broken spring.

Something else I'd like to note is if you did have a broken spring on this, it would be much more difficult for it to actually fall out of the vehicle. So, you might just happen to notice that there's a piece of metal just kind of clanging around under here. The reason for that is because, like I said, it has the strut running through the middle, so, of course, it would be much more difficult to fall out. And generally, if your coil spring's broken on your coilover strut, you just replace it as a unit. Some people will actually take them apart and replace only the coil or only the strut, but for cost efficiency and overall safety of the vehicle, it only really makes sense to replace the whole unit.

Now we're going to talk about the difference between your front suspension, which overall is going to have a coilover strut, or your rear suspension, which would generally have a coil and a shock. On the front of most passenger vehicles, you're going to have a coilover strut like this. You'll have the strut unit, you're going to have the coil, and then there's also going to be a third part, which is located up along the top, where it mounts to the body, and that's the mount. All those pieces need to be together and compress the spring. The reason for that is because it needs to have extra strength to be able to hold up the weight of the front of the vehicle. In the front of most vehicles is going to have the engine and, of course, the transmission on a front-wheel-drive vehicle.

Another reason for having a coilover strut like this is because not only does your suspension go up and down in the front, but it also needs to pivot as you turn your vehicle. Some vehicles such as pickup trucks are going to use leaf springs in the back for the rear suspension. The reason for that is because of higher tow capacities and heavier load ratings overall. What you probably notice if you had leaf springs in the back is a much stiffer ride, especially when the vehicle's not loaded. The reason for that is because of consumer comfort and, of course, they have a much lower tow capacity overall.

If you have a vehicle that has coil springs in the rear, you need to also have shocks in the back that are going to accompany it. The reason for that is because if you don't have shocks, what's that spring gonna do every bump you hit? It's just going to bounce you on down that road. So, some of the symptoms that you're probably gonna notice if you have weak or even broken coil springs. You might notice that your vehicle starts sagging in either one corner or even both corners. Obviously, that's going to be an issue. You might notice that you have odd tire wear, because if, of course, those springs are messed up and the wheel can bounce up and down, it's going to wear kind of funny overall.

Other things that you might notice is when you're trying to make a corner, or even if you have to make an abrupt maneuver, the vehicle's just gonna kind of sway around, and it's just not going to feel as though it's stuck to the ground the way that it should be. You might even notice some noises. Maybe you hit some bumps or anything like that, and you hear a little [vocalization] or anything like that, obviously, that's something that you're going to want to check out. There could be other things that could cause any of these issues, but they are some things that are definitely symptoms of having a bad coil spring. And, of course, on some newer vehicles, you're going to have ride height sensors, which will, of course, set a light on the dash if you have a discrepancy between one corner or another. These symptoms can slowly worsen over time, or even seemingly happen abruptly.

Coil springs have no maintenance schedule. It's not something that you have to service every 100,000 miles or replace at a given time. It's kind of more of a wear item. If you're driving on bumpy roads, of course, they're getting more wear and tear. If you're spending most of your time on a nice smooth highway, well, the rear coil springs could last quite a long time actually.

Okay, so we found we have a bad coil spring in the left rear of our vehicle. A good question to ask would be, "Do you have to replace the coil spring and the shock at the same time?" Well, overall, I would say that it's a great idea. Most people don't necessarily do it. They would replace the shock if the shock was bad, and they wouldn't necessarily think about the coil spring so much. But usually, if people have to replace the coil spring, they will replace the shock at the same time. Overall, it makes the most sense to replace both of the suspension items at the same time, because if the spring's weak, or even the shock's weak, it's putting extra pressure on the opposite item. Overall, your coils will probably be replaced much less often than the rear shocks in general.

A coil is kind of a little bit harder to be able to tell if there's something wrong with it, as opposed to the shock, where you can tell with a shock if it's leaking or something like that. And, of course, shocks are overall much cheaper in the long run. With that said, by only replacing the coil, or even just the shock, you could actually be leaving the underlying problem in the vehicle, in which case, it's only gonna lead to further problems down the line. So, now, we should probably ask, can you only replace one coil spring if only one's broken? Well, in all honesty, it really doesn't make any sense.

Overall, coils are going to be made differently. You might notice one's a little bit taller, a little smaller, little thinner, little wider, or even something that you can't even really tell, is the stiffness of the coil itself. So, if I was to put in just one brand new coil, and leave an old one inside this vehicle, what's the odds that the other one isn't weaker than the new one? What's the odds that it might not be damaged and I just can't tell? Well, it really only makes sense to replace them both as a pair.

Okay. So, let's say that you found the issue with your suspension and you're going to fix it as you should, as a pair, of course. The next thing you need to think about is making sure that you get down and get yourself an alignment. The reason why you'd want to get yourself an alignment for your vehicle is to make sure that your wheels and your vehicle are going to be going straight down the road as they should. If for some reason, something's off-kilter, maybe the ride height's changed a little bit, or even the suspension's toed a little bit, or even cambered in and out like this, it's going to cause an issue with your tires, and you're going to notice it driving down the road. It could lead to a safety issue, so, you want to make sure you get your alignment done.

Okay. So, you know me, I always like to talk about safety in my videos. So, a question for you is do you think having a broken suspension item, such as a coil spring being broken, is a safety issue? In this instance, I would say yes. You need to be able to keep all four wheels solidly on the ground, and your suspension needs to be able to absorb anything that would try to force it otherwise. If your suspension's weak, it'll affect your vehicle's ability to corner and steer safely without sway. Imagine being on the highway and your vehicle can just kind of sway all around all over the place. Your suspension being weak could also affect your braking ability in your vehicle. If you step on the brake, and if maybe it's a panic stop, your vehicle is going to kind of dip down a little bit. If it dips down a lot of bit, it could potentially lose a lot of traction, and you might even skid out in the rear. Obviously, your safety is paramount, any part that you find is damaged or even weak should be replaced ASAP.

Okay, friends, so we tried to give you an informational video about coil springs. Some of the symptoms that we talked about could be found if you had an issue with a different part, so I definitely wouldn't rule anything out. You need to check your entire suspension. For the symptoms that we happened to find, especially the parts that we found on the ground, it led us in the direction that we took you. We found that we had a broken coil spring in the rear. With finding that coil spring, we also mentioned that you would replace them as a pair, because, yes, you should. And I also mentioned that it's a good idea to replace the shock at the same time as the coil. The reason for that is because if the coil's bad, it's going to cause extra stress on the shock and vice versa.

Hopefully, you learned a little something. If you like the video, smash on that like button for me. It would mean the world. While you're at it, why don't you go ahead and subscribe and ring the bell. That way there, you can be kept up with all of our latest content. Thanks.

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