Prepare and Maintain Your Truck's Suspension System for Winter
Each year, as winter sets in and daylight shrinks and temperatures plummet, people make preparations of all kinds to ready themselves for the cold weather. From sealing up drafty windows and doors to breaking out the heavy bed linens, there are all manner of things we do to keep warm and healthy. However, while people take steps to winterize their households and wardrobes, they often lose sight of the fact that they also need to prepare their vehicles for the cold weather.
Some automobile owners winterize their vehicles with rudimentary steps, such as changing the oil to adjust the viscosity, putting on snow tires and filling up on anti-freeze. But do you ever consider the impact of winter weather on your suspension? The fact is, the colder it gets outside and the more snow and ice, the higher the need for maintaining your suspension system for the winter. Even if your vehicle was healthy during the summer, you could suddenly find that the underside can't cope with the winter challenges.
How Winter Weather Can Damage Your Truck’s Suspension
There’s little doubt that winter causes problems for roads! The constant freezing and thawing and water seeping into the pavement and expanding can result in cracks and potholes that pose a threat to your vehicles. There is nothing good about what winter does to roads, and this can cause a problem with the suspension system on your car, van, truck or SUV. When you also factor in the excess amounts of rocks and debris that litter the roads in the winter months, the underside of your vehicle could be flanked with obstructions.
All of the added bumps and holes can cause your suspension to work overtime trying to smooth out your ride. If your truck suspension isn't in great shape to begin with, it might not be up for the job. That is why you should make sure that you’re properly maintaining your suspension system as we embark on another cold winter this season. With sufficient preparation, you can maintain the health of vehicle parts and functions for the long haul and avoid premature breakdowns and unexpected repair costs.
In addition to the risk of an impact with a pothole or debris that can damage suspension components, temperature swings, snowstorms and other harsh environmental conditions also pose a severe threat. While metal suspension parts such as leaf springs are coated with plastic to protect from corrosion, wear and tear combined with exposure to road salt, ice and other objects can compromise the coating. Once water is in, it's just a matter of time until the springs begin to break down. After all, grazed or damaged metals develop rust when water is allowed to penetrate the surface.
Things to Check on a Truck’s Suspension Before Winter Weather Hits
There are many things on a car that need to be inspected as the cold winter weather approaches, including tire pressure, fluid levels, tire alignment and the need for anti-freeze in the radiator and better windshield washer fluid in the reservoir. Along with all of this, it is essential to make sure that you check your vehicle suspension before you start to drive on the punishing roads that winter will no doubt create. Otherwise, slouching and slumping could occur and accelerate before you even recognize that a problem has taken hold.
To start, it is best to park your car on a level surface and look from ground level at how your truck is sitting. If it sits lower on one corner or tilts to one side, you may have leaf springs that have shifted or started to sag or become worn on one side. You may not have noticed this on the more even roads of summer, but rough winter roads could cause a sagging spring to bottom out, which can lead to breakage of the springs that can lead to a very rough ride indeed. Check the vehicle from the back and sides to see whether you have a full rear slump or a corner slump. It is best to further inspect the leaf springs to determine what is causing the sagging or unevenness.
To do a proper inspection of the leaf springs, lift the vehicle and remove the tire to get a good look at the springs and U-bolts. A clean spring is much easier to inspect to ensure you don’t miss anything important during your inspection. During the winter months, it might be necessary to clean the dirt and salt build-up with a wire brush to see the springs. Once you have the dirt removed from the springs, you should be able to get a clearer look at the alignment of the leaves and the tightness of the fasteners.
If you see any cracking or damage in the leaves that could lead to breakages, look into replacing the leaf springs before they get worse. If the U-bolts have become loose, see if you need to re-align the short leaves in the spring bundle as they can slip if the U-bolt is loose. You should also check for excess wear or distortion of the leaf springs. That could be an indication that your load is sitting more to one side during transport. Consequently, the underside of the truck could easily weigh down on the axles when the vehicle is loaded at the rear.
After re-aligning or replacing leaves, make sure the U-bolt is tightened to prevent further slipping. Step back and inspect the vehicle a second time to see whether the slump has been rectified.
Finally, it is best to lubricate with a silicone lubricant to protect your springs against the slush and salt that winter will throw at them. It's also an excellent time to make sure your leaf spring shackles and hangers, bolts and other hardware are rust-free and in good operating condition. Make sure everything is tight as you put the wheels back on, and your vehicle will be ready to handle the bumpy rides and harsh conditions of the winter months.
How to Upgrade Your Truck for Winter Weather
No one likes winter driving! Steering through snow and ice, delayed stopping and slipping and sliding on an icy road are not much fun. Even when the road is well plowed and salted, it can still be treacherous to drive. Even with a large truck with the option of 4-wheel drive you can run into problems because when all four wheels are sliding on the ice, the driving is still not improved. If the truck is not properly equipped to handle such conditions, the ensuing accident could be far costlier than it would with a compact car.
Make sure your vehicle is ready to handle winter driving by repairing, replacing or upgrading your leaf springs. You may also want studded or snow tires. And when you're filling up the windshield washer fluid, you might as well replace the wipers.
However, the road salt, which is the main catalyst in this weather, can take a toll on our cars, trucks, vans and SUVs. Salty spray can leave a corrosive coating on the undercarriage of a truck, which if left unattended can lead to rusting of the metal, and suspension system equipment is no different. It is important to take the care needed for this equipment to clean off this residue. If rust takes hold, it can quickly spread along the underside components and cause cracks and holes on some of the most corroded spots.
Turn to General Spring for Maintaining Your Suspension System for the Winter Season
It's critical to learn more about the connection between winter weather and suspension maintenance. Difficult questions require expert advice, and if you are not sure what needs to be done with your suspension system, it is best to consult with someone who knows. The service team at General Spring have been experts in automotive suspension products for almost 55 years, and are here to bring you the knowledge you need to get the right suspension product for your truck. Our inventory includes leaf spring kits and replacement parts for a vast range of vehicles, both recent and classic.
General Spring offers a complete selection of leaf spring replacement kits for all different makes and models of trucks, SUVs, vans and more. We make maintaining your suspension system for the winter easy by carrying a massive inventory of economically priced products in stock and ready to ship. In addition to leaf springs, we also carry coil springs, add a leafs, and other load support and attaching parts for caring for and enhancing your truck suspension in winter. Once you have a replacement kit installed under the vehicle, your truck could perform just like it did when you first set foot behind the wheel.
When you partner with us for leaf springs and suspension parts, you benefit from reliable products from leading manufacturers that have been tested to meet or exceed OEM standards. All of our springs come with a 1-year warranty and are backed by exceptional customer service and technical support. We offer quick shipping across the U.S. to help you maintain, repair or upgrade your suspension for winter. With new leaf springs, a truck can become a power vehicle that could easily handle even the toughest winter driving challenges.
Get in Touch With General Spring Today
A truck's suspension in winter is at its greatest risk of damage and failure. Make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition at the time of year you need it most. If your vehicle currently slouches or slumps at the rear, it is definitely time to check the suspension system and make the necessary adjustments and changes.
Shop our website now, or contact us online to request more information on the effects of winter weather on suspension systems. We'll be more than happy to provide the product knowledge and expertise you need to get your suspension ready for the winter.