The suspension of a car is an unseen system that is often taken for granted, both when it functions well and when it fails. You have driven with a broken suspension at one point or the other, but do you know if it is illegal to do so?
There is no law against driving with a broken suspension. However, it is never advisable to drive with a broken suspension. It is neither safe nor comfortable, and you can lose control of the car and put other road users at risk.
In this article, I review the function of a suspension and the legalities of driving with a broken one. I will also look at whether you can drive with a broken air suspension. In conclusion, I explore the durability and repair of air suspensions.
What Does a Suspension System Do?
A suspension system is a mediator between the frame of a car and the road. It comprises 3 major parts, including dampers/shock absorbers, springs, and linkages. Other components are the bearings/joints/bushings and the tires.
Your car’s suspension ensures a smooth and safe drive. It does this by:
- Increasing tire traction and maintaining your tires on the ground.
- Absorbing the impacts from bumps, potholes, and other interruptions on the road.
- Keeping your car from tilting over to one side when you make a turn.
Your car’s suspension system is prone to wear and tear over time, and it needs to be maintained regularly. All the parts may not be damaged at once, but damage to any part makes it difficult to handle, brake, or steer your car.
Can You Drive with Bad Air Suspension?
An air suspension functions like a normal suspension system; it cushions the car against the bumps and harshness of the road. The difference is that the cushioning is done by an inflated airbag (like a bouncing castle.)
Pressurized air is contained and used in flexible rubber bellows. An electric compressor pumps the air into the bellows, and all the shocks are absorbed. Your car’s height in relation to the weight and speed are better controlled. It provides an even smoother ride than a regular suspension.
A broken compressor, leaking airbags, and a buildup of moisture in the system are three common problems with an air suspension system. When you notice your car making noises, sagging, and having poor alignment, please take it to the mechanic to check and fix the issue.
You can drive with a bad air suspension, but similar to driving with a bad regular suspension, you shouldn’t do it. You will make the problem worse, damage the other good components (if only one or two have been damaged), and ultimately submit yourself to an uncomfortable ride.
Is It Illegal to Drive with a Broken Suspension?
It is not illegal to drive with a broken suspension. The suspension is a system that is composed of different components. While you can drive with some of these components broken, it is nigh impossible to drive with other components broken.
For example, you can drive with damaged shock absorbers and experience a bumpy ride. You should not put a car with a broken steering linkage on the road.
If you notice your car bouncing more than usual after hitting a bump or it takes a nosedive when you brake, these are some common signs that you need to check your suspension.
It is best to fix any damaged part as soon as possible because one damaged component can put further strain on the other parts. The result is a faster and absolute system collapse.
Does Air Suspension Break Easily?
Air suspension systems are liable to be affected by more factors compared to a traditional suspension system. One crucial component of the air suspension is the airbag. Debris from the road can rupture the bag, and the rubber can also dry out and become brittle with time. Steel coils will not rupture.
The line connecting the airbag to the rest of the suspension system can be exposed and broken. The compressor is also prone to damage if it tries to compensate for an airbag leak. These problems are absent from normal suspension systems.
Regardless of the issues peculiar to the air suspension system, you can still expect to use it for a similar amount of time as a regular suspension. Some manufacturers suggest changing an air suspension after 10 years, and others say it can run for about 75,000 to 100,000 miles without damage.
Can Air Suspension Be Repaired?
You can fix a broken air suspension system. There are two primary ways to go about it, with each having advantages and drawbacks. Here are the options available:
- Replace the damaged components
Usually, one or more parts of the system are damaged at once. You can buy new replacement parts and swap them for the broken parts. The advantage is that the air suspension functions as it did originally.
The disadvantage of replacing the parts is how expensive it is. A two-wheel system costs about $2,500 to replace the parts. It can go above $10,000 for some cars that have suspensions on four wheels.
- Install a conversion kit/system
This involves a complete overhaul of the broken system. A kit with traditional shocks or struts and steel coil springs replaces the electronic shocks and air springs. The drawback is that the quality and smoothness of your ride will be reduced.
It is way cheaper than replacing the broken parts with original air suspension parts. It is only 20% to 25% of the cost of an original replacement. This change is also permanent.
Your car’s suspension system takes serious heat with use. It is no surprise that problems arise. How you drive, the nature of the roads you frequently drive on, and the number of miles you have driven all contribute to the system’s speed of wear and tear.
It is easy to confuse suspension problems with brake or tire issues. Regular maintenance and quick repairs will have you enjoying a smooth and comfortable ride with your car.