Truck suspension issues can be difficult to diagnose. It's usually pretty easy to tell the symptoms, but identifying the source of the issue is another thing. Faulty or worn shocks, struts, springs, tie rods or ball joints can wreak havoc on your vehicle and make your car or truck unsafe to drive.
Wear and tear is only an issue if you actively ignore the problem and allow your vehicle to run itself into the ground! Pay attention to how your vehicle handles and what you're hearing—and address problems immediately as they arise.
Pulling to the left or right is the most common sign of suspension problems. It can also be one of the hardest problems to diagnose without the help of a professional. Tires need to be aligned precisely for toe-in, caster and camber. Poor alignment means uneven tire wear, annoying pulling, a constant fight with the steering wheel, and even decreased gas mileage. Your vehicle could be pulling for any number of reasons:
If you blow through a pothole or climb over a curb or two, your alignment can get out of whack. Sudden changes in alignment don't happen magically. Something broke. It could be a broken spring or control arm.
A rough ride is a clear indicator your shocks or struts could be worn and in need of replacement. When every bump on the road makes your car bounce, you've got suspension problems and need to get it checked out.
Try the bounce test—when your car is parked, put all of your weight on the front end, release, and observe how the vehicle responds. If it bounces back and forth 3 or more times, the shocks and/or struts are worn and need replacing.
Shock absorbers, true to the name, are the main culprit when your car feels "bumpier" than ever. They're designed to keep your tires on the road. When they don't, the car will bounce all over the place. Shocks have fluid which dampen the bouncing. When they leak, their performance suffers and the absorbers will eventually fail.
Leaf springs may sometimes cause problems with excessive bouncing. You can double check the possibility of a busted leaf spring by checking if the car or truck seems to "lean" back in a standing position. Many trucks are designed to be "nose down" to accomodate extra weight in the rear. If your pickup truck appears to sit level, it could be extra proof of an issue with a leaf spring.
Even the slightest damage from an accident can cause shocks to leak and permanently damage them beyond repair. Get it checked out.
Shocks or struts can be in need of replacement when you notice the following related issues:
Of course, with extreme handling, you could force these things to happen in a vehicle with a brand new suspension system. We're talking about everyday driving situations. You shouldn't be leaning forward for a routine stop in a suburban intersection.