Dec 6th 2020
Reasons to Check Your U-Bolts
Reasons to Check Your U-Bolts
Although U-bolts play a critical role in ensuring your leaf spring suspension system works properly, they're often one of the most overlooked components. These invaluable pieces of a suspension system can mean the difference between a smooth ride and a rough one, as they ensure your leaf springs work properly by absorbing shocks from the road.
By learning more about what U-bolts are and how they're used, you're more likely to keep an eye on them and replace them when needed. Additionally, you can find out more about what can go wrong with U-bolts, so you can better spot warning signs indicating they need to be repaired or replaced.
What Is a U-Bolt?
A U-bolt is a bolt that is threaded at both ends and shaped like the letter "U." These bolts can come in a round, square or a semi-round U shape depending on the suspension's needs. They are a major part of the leaf spring suspension and securely connect a suspension system's leaf spring pack to the vehicle's axle.
You can think of U-bolts as large industrial paperclips, designed to keep the suspension system and leaf springs securely together. In trucks, properly functioning U-bolts provide enough force to ensure your leaf springs and other components are sufficiently clamped together.
How Are U-Bolts Used?
In vehicles, leaf spring U-bolts primarily go around the axle and hold the leaf spring bundle tightly on the underside of the axle. Thisfunction is especially important if the leaf springs do not have spring clips to securely hold the leaves together in the bundle.By the U-bolts tightly holding the leaf spring against the axle, the springs absorb the shock applied to your suspension when your wheels go over rough terrainby transferring the shock from the axle to the springs.
Besides their ability to absorb shock, they're also used to keep the spring at the optimal stiffness. They can also keep your vehicle at the right handling specification and the best ride height. Additionally, U-bolts reduce forces acting on the center bolts, protecting these parts from shearing.
What Can Go Wrong With U-Bolts?
The main reason to check your U-bolts is to ensure you catch potential problems before they damage your vehicle. Like any bolt, the biggest problem that can happen with a U-bolt is for the nut to become loose. Thisloosening is made easier because the suspension system and the U-bolts within it are constantly subjected to vibrations and jolts when you're driving.
When the nuts become loose, a couplethings can happen. The first of which is that the U-bolt itself can start hitting against the axle. Since the bolt is designed to be tightly held against the leaf spring, the constant striking can lead to bolt breakage.
Secondly, even if the bolts are not to the point of rattling around, they can become slack, causing the shorter leaf springs within the leaf spring bundle to move sideways. If caught early, you can tap the leaf springs back into place and re-tighten the U-bolts, but if they're left unattended, loose bolts can cause your leaf springs to become disassembled.
Choose General Spring for All Your Suspension System Needs
Our experts at General Spring have been authorities in the design and installation of automotive leaf spring and suspension products since 1965. In this time, we've mastered what it takes to keep a suspension system working smoothly. By keeping many items in stock, we can supply quality products with fast shipping and low prices. Furthermore, we can easily check the quality before shipping to our customers due to our factory direct approach.
If you want a heavy-duty option for your car, truck, van or SUV, we have plenty of items in stock. For those who just need to replace broken or worn factory springs, we can replace them. If we don’t have them in stock, we can custom design one for you.
Browse our selection of U-bolts to find one meeting your vehicle's requirements. If you have any questions, call us or contact us online. If you're in the Kansas City area, you can call us at 913-829-0619, and national customers can call us toll-free at 888-829-0619.
How to Properly Check Your U Bolts
Many vehicle-towing owners and heavy machine operators concern themselves with maintaining proper suspension—as they should!
Supplementing your truck, van, SUV, or recreational vehicle with the proper suspension system will make all the difference in prolonging the life of your vehicle. You can have a great-looking vehicle with a monster engine, but if you don’t have the right kind of suspension system installed, your vehicle could flatten out making every bump in the road an uncomfortable one. It could also cause a greater liability for any fragile goods that might be transporting.
Without the proper suspension system, the chassis of your vehicle will wear out quickly rendering it inoperable. That is why leaf springs are such a crucial part of a vehicle’s suspension system. What is equally as important, yet often overlooked, are the U-Bolts.
What are U-Bolts?
A U-Bolt is the part that connects the leaf springs to your chassis. It is considered the bolt that secures everything together. Leaf springs are thick, so it takes more than a regular type of bolt to install it. The U-Bolt basically serves as an industrial type of clamp that is sturdy enough to endure oversized loads as well as tough terrain, but also is easily removed when needed.
How Do You Know When to Replace U-Bolts?
Just as leaf springs need replaced, so do U-Bolts. Leaf springs endure an immense amount of pressure. They are only able to do this by staying in place, and U-Bolts contribute to this. However, there is only so much pressure a U-Bolt can take after a certain amount of strain.
As weight is placed on the leaf spring, the U-Bolt also absorbs the energy from that weight. When the leaf springs flatten out and then springs back into its original form, the U-Bolt keeps it in place preventing them from ‘springing’ out of place. This amount of pressure can wear on U-Bolts and may sometimes need replaced before the leaf springs.
Depending on what kind of task your vehicle has, you might need to check to see if your U-Bolts are in good condition. Here’s what you need to do:
- Check your U-Bolts every 24,000 miles or 6 months.
- Make sure that they are secured tightly. If they are loose, tighten them immediately.
- Check the bend of the U-Bolt to see if it’s cracked. If any part of the U-Bolt is cracked, replace it immediately.
- Verify that the minimum inside radius is satisfactory. For example, the minimum requirement for a 1” U-Bolt should be no less than ¾”.
Consult General Spring for Your Suspension Needs
If you need assistance in checking your U-Bolts, call the professional experts at General Spring in New Century, KS. We are a full service shop that has been shipping out standard and custom leaf suspensi online form right now.
If you have a question regarding your U-Bolt or any part of your suspension system, call us today at 913-829-0619. If you are not near the New Century area, call us toll free at 1-888-829-0619 and our mechanics will be happy to answer any questions you may have. You can also contact us through our online form right now.