Can You Drive a Car With Damaged Suspension?

  • By: Sean Cooper
  • Date: December 1, 2022
Damaged Torsion Beam Suspension

One critical aspect of your vehicle is the suspension system, but can you drive a car with damaged suspension? Your car’s suspension system not only keeps your wheels safely on the road but also helps your car to absorb the shock caused by uneven surfaces.

How your vehicle brakes, accelerates, and tackles traction concerns such as potholes, bends, rain, and turns is hugely dependent on the overall condition of its suspension system.

While your car’s suspension system features several key components including the tires, air springs, shock absorbers, axles, and sway bars, struts are arguably the most important. Struts are the structural part of your car’s suspension system that keeps your car balanced and lifted off the surface. 

Over time, parts of your suspension, including shocks and struts, could wear out or break completely. And when this occurs, your car won’t perform the way it once did.

You might notice it no longer turns as sharp as it used to. Your car might also feel a little more squirmy during rainy days. That’s your vehicle warning you that something is a miss, and if you fail to address it, a much bigger issue can potentially arise!

What is a car strut?

Different Types of Suspension Syste...
Different Types of Suspension Systems

Your car’s suspension is almost useless without struts. In case you didn’t know, they are the suspension components that hold your car off the ground, and in their absence, your car would fall to the surface.

Struts lock together other vital components of the suspension. They not only connect to the coil spring and the shock absorber, but also connect to the steering mechanism. They offer the necessary support to help shock absorbers withstand the weight of the vehicle, offering smooth and comfortable rides. 

Can you drive a car with damaged struts?

No, it’s not possible to drive a car with damaged struts. When your struts are damaged, they do more than offer you an uncomfortable ride. They will also present safety risks that can enhance your chances of an accident. There are many ways driving with compromised shocks and struts can potentially lead to an accident, including:

  • You can lose control as you drive over dips and bumps: It’s worth noting that damaged struts and shocks can impact your ability to safely navigate through bumps and dips. They can cause your vehicle’s tires to migrate, resulting in you losing control of your car. What’s more, faulty struts and shocks can make it feel like your vehicle is flying over speed bumps, even if your car is moving at a safe speed.
  • You’ll have difficulty negotiating corners and bends: Struts and shocks allow your car to grip the road. As a result, when they get damaged, it will impact your vehicle’s ability to grip the road. This, in turn, will lead to either oversteering or understeering, which significantly increases your risk of an accident.
  • It exposes your car tires to increased risk of wear and tear: Your tires may exhibit some of the earliest and most easily noticeable symptoms of damaged shocks and struts. You may notice your tires’ tread begin to cup or show other potential symptoms of wear and tear. It’s worth noting that worn out tires can make it tough to safely control your vehicle, and this may exacerbate your risk of an accident. What’s more, defective shocks struts that cause worn-out tires may mean having to replace your tires more often than usual.
  • Damaged shocks and struts can cause damage to other vital parts of your car: As already explained, your other vital suspension components rely on your struts and shocks to function optimally. When there is excessive damage, it will cause more strain on other parts such as control arms and ball joints, which increases the chance that they may break or get damaged. This could result in more dangerous situations as well as costly repairs down the road.
  • Impaired braking: When your car’s shocks and struts are damaged, your car will inevitably take longer than normal to stop. Your anti-lock braking system could also malfunction or function less efficiently. So, if you are driving along bumpy or rough roads and need to suddenly stop, your car won’t stop as fast as you would like, increasing your risk of an accident. What’s more, your car is more likely to nosedive, putting the front end of the car at risk of increased wear and damage.
Suspension in top condition

What are the symptoms of damaged struts?

Struts won’t wear out overnight. It’s a gradual process that will take time. This is why it’s crucial to pay utmost attention to how your car operates, particularly as its age advances.

Every time you hit a pothole or a bump on the road that makes you cringe from a jarring impact, your car’s struts wear down a little bit at a time. It will ultimately start to display a few warning signs, including:

  • Instability at highway speeds: When your car’s shocks and struts are worn out, your car will never feel completely stable on the highway, constantly moving up and down.
  • Your car tips to one side in turns: When taking a sharp bed, your vehicle leans or tips toward the outside of the turn and feels somehow wobbly.
  • Tires bouncing excessively: When you hit a bump, you can feel a tire or tires bouncing or reacting for a moment. In some instances, you may also hear a clunking sound.
  • Abnormal tire wear: Because the tire is not being firmly held to the surface, the tread wears in a wavy manner, instead of evenly.
  • Reduced handling ability: Worn out struts and shocks can also cause your car to squat or dive upon hard braking or acceleration and lean when approaching bends. Damaged struts can also cause the steering to feel somehow difficult to turn. Problems such as these can easily result in a reduction in handling and braking performance, affecting the overall safety of your car.
  • Hydraulic oil spillage: Struts are typically filled with hydraulic oil. Over time, the seals of the strut can fail, eventually allowing the oil to spill out. When this occurs, you’ll see an oily buildup on the outside of the strut. 
Serious off-road suspension setup

The Bottom line

As you may have realized, it is impossible to ride a car with damaged struts. You’ll not only experience an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous ride, but you’ll also cause significant and costly damage to other vital components of your car’s suspension system.

Socks and struts, and any other components of your suspension have a direct impact on your safety as well as your vehicle’s performance. To help enhance your safety and avoid having the car break down, it’s important to keep your car’s maintenance up to date.

Regular maintenance will not only ensure your car remains in tip-top condition at all times, but will also help identify potential problems such as damaged shocks and struts before they become costly repairs!