Cleaning and Checking Leaf Springs
Your truck's suspension enables you to comfortably drive across rough terrain or carry heavy loads by supporting your axles. Leaf springs are a crucial part of your suspension and make it possible for your vehicle to absorb the shocks from the terrain. However, leaf springs can have a hard life under your truck, even in the city. They can be blasted by debris, including sand, mud, water, rocks and more.
The leaves in a spring system rub together naturally whenever the suspension flexes or bumps. Typical wear and tear can worsen when your leaf springs are dirty. Cleaning and checking your springs regularly can help reduce the amount of wear and tear they experience and extend their life span.
How to Clean Your Leaf Springs
Over time, a buildup of dirt will affect the performance of your leaf springs. Regularly cleaning your leaf springs is essential to keep them performing their best so you can keep hauling loads confidently. Getting rid of dirt can also prevent rust and other contaminants from building up and damaging your springs.
Cleaning your leaf springs removes dirt, dust and debris that can wear your springs down. There are a few ways to clean your leaf springs. Here are a few necessary items to start:
- Degreasing solvent to remove oil and grease
- Brake cleaner to get rid of dust and debris
- A bucket of water
- A wire brush, steel wool, scrub brush or toothbrus
- A cloth or sponge
- A ladder or step ladder
- Jack stands
- Protective eyewear
- Protective coatings like rust inhibitors
Here are three ways you can refresh your leaf springs at home:
1. Remove Dirt
Leaf springs consist of several layers of spring steel of varying lengths. Clamps secure these layers to prevent any components from coming loose while driving. The natural movement of the suspension while driving may cause the leaves to press and grind against each other, resulting in dirt and debris getting stuck between these layers. Buildup must be cleaned out often to keep your springs in top condition.
Raise one end of your truck with a pair of jack stands on a flat road surface or in your garage and remove the wheels. This relieves the weight from the springs, allowing them to separate slightly. Take a wire or scrub brush and thoroughly clean the leaves, shackles and bushes. Work the brush along each side of the spring and the clips. Make sure you clean both the upper and under surfaces. You can wear protective eyewear to prevent dirt and dust particles from entering your eyes.
You can also use brake cleaner to remove dust and debris. Follow the instructions on the label and wipe with a clean cloth to remove dirt.
2. Wash Your Springs
Cleaning your truck's leaf springs is relatively easy using a few household items such as soap and white vinegar. Here is how you wash your springs with soap, a vinegar solution or water:
- Soap and water: Mix a solution of lukewarm water and a mild detergent. Use a sponge, cloth or brush dipped in the mixture to wash the spring. Use a toothbrush for the hard-to-reach areas. Pour clean water into the spring to rinse it. Wash again if necessary. Pat the springs dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
- Vinegar solution: Mix a cup of white vinegar with a gallon of water. Pour the solution into the spring. Let the mixture get absorbed by the spring and leave it to sit for 10 minutes. Rinse the mixture with clean water and dry the leaves with a clean cloth.
- Water: You can use clean water to clean leaf springs that are only slightly dirty. Fill a bucket with cold water and pour it onto the leaf springs. Use a brush, sponge or cloth to clean away any dirt. Remove excess water with a cloth, and let the springs air dry.
3. Degrease Your Springs
When dirt, debris and mud build up on your springs over time, they can be challenging to clean. You will need to use more than a brush and soapy water to clean them as the dirt can get stuck to the leaf springs. You'll need an appropriate degreasing solvent to clean your springs properly in these situations.
You can spray the degreaser onto the springs directly or apply it to a wire brush before cleaning them. Once you have cleaned the springs, use a highly absorbent cloth to remove the degreaser solvent. Make sure the springs are entirely free of dirt and solvent before putting everything back into place.
Checking Leaf Springs
When cleaning your leaf springs, you can inspect the springs and mounts for any damage and wear and tear. Doing so regularly can help you identify potential faults in your leaf springs.
Here are seven checks you can perform on your leaf springs to asses their condition:
- Flatness: Park your truck on a flat surface — either in your garage or on the road. Ensure the tires are at the correct pressure and there is no unnecessary weight in the vehicle. Crouch or lay down a small distance behind your truck to see how it sits. If it tilts or leans to one side, the leaf springs may be damaged or weak. Inspect those springs for any cracks or damage. You can also place a level on top of your truck to check it is flat and straight.
- Tightness: Ensure all the nuts are tight and secure. Loose nuts can cause the axle to move, which can cause issues when steering or braking. Tighten any loose nuts before you continue.
- Shackle pins: The shackle pins pass through the rubber brushes in the eyes at the ends of the springs. Ensure they are tight and haven't rusted. They should also be straight. Check the rubber brushes for cracks or oil contamination.
- Clips: Check the clips holding your leaf springs together for any corrosion or loose rivets.
- Slack: Take the pressure off the suspension by placing a jack under the firm part of the chassis rather than the axle. Take hold of a leaf spring at both ends and try to move it from side to side. A secure spring will stay in place and a loose spring will move. Before lowering your truck, check that the nuts and shackle bolts didn't become loose during the slack test.
- Rust: Look for rust on your springs and other suspension parts while performing the above checks or cleaning. Remove any rust from your truck and use a rust inhibitor to prevent further rusting.
- Cracks and damage: Inspect your leaf springs and mountings for any cracks or fractures. Damaged springs need to be replaced as soon as possible as they cannot be repaired by welding.
Shop Leaf Springs Today
Leaf springs ensure you can safely carry loads anywhere in America. Regularly cleaning and checking your leaf springs can ensure your suspension is always in peak condition. Between routine cleaning and checks, ensure you avoid overloading your truck to help extend the life span of your springs.
When you see that you need to replace your leaf springs, trust General Spring. We stock a wide range of high-quality springs for a range of truck models that can be delivered to your door. Browse our leaf spring inventory