5 Reasons Your Vehicle May Not Drive Smoothly: Common Issues and Solutions

30 September 2020
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5 Reasons Your Vehicle May Not Drive Smoothly: Common Issues and Solutions
  • There are numerous issues related to your axles, suspension, brakes, and other car parts that could be causing a rough ride. 
  • You should always find and fix the issue as soon as possible so that it doesn’t lead to further (or more serious) damage to your vehicle. 
  • Your driving habits and where you drive could impact the condition of your vehicle; for example, city drivers may need brake work more often whereas those who drive on rough roads may have to replace suspension parts more frequently.
If you’ve noticed that your vehicle isn’t driving as smoothly as it once did, there could be a number of underlying issues to consider. Whether you’re experiencing steering wheel vibrations, excessive bumps from the axles, or any other shaking, wobbling, or less-than-smooth conditions, you need to take stock of a few things so that you can figure out what’s going on. The most common issues can generally be resolved with minimal effort and expense, although some may require more work if they are severe or have been let go for an extended period of time. Keep reading to find out what you need to know. Common Causes of a Bumpy Ride Below, you will find a list of the most common reasons your vehicle may not be giving you the smoothest ride, along with the solutions that will resolve each issue. Keep in mind that since there are a number of issues that could affect your vehicle’s stability and its ability to provide you with a smooth ride, you may have to go through some trial-and-error to narrow down the issue and figure out exactly what’s going on.  Tyres and Wheels This should be your first stop when attempting to diagnose a bumpy ride. Tyres and wheels take the brunt of the damage on a vehicle because they are in contact with the road at all times. Rough rides can be caused by a number of issues with tyres and wheels, including:
  • Bad wheel alignment or balancing (usually noticed by the car pulling or drifting to one side, in addition to any vibrations or shaking)
  • Incorrect or imbalanced tyre air pressure
  • Improper mounting of tyres and/or wheels
  • Damaged or warped rims
  • Improper lug nut tightening after a tyre change or flat repair
The first thing that you should do is to have your alignment and wheel balancing checked by a shop with a computerized system that can tune your car to perfect alignment. You should also check the air pressure in your tyres and make sure that it stays within the recommended range of the vehicle manufacturer. If it isn’t an alignment or tyre pressure issue, check wheels and tyres to make sure everything is properly installed, secured, and not warped or damaged. In the event of rim damage, replacement is generally the best option. Suspension Your suspension system is the major component responsible for giving your vehicle a smooth ride. There are a number of working parts to the system, but the most common culprits are the shocks and struts. These will need to be replaced periodically as they do wear down over time. If you drive on rough roads, you’ll probably replace suspension parts a lot more frequently than those who drive in better conditions on a regular basis. If your suspension is in need of repair, you might notice things like:
  • Vehicle leaning to one side
  • Loose bouncing feeling when hitting bumps
  • Jolts in the steering wheel when you hit a bump or pothole
The biggest issue is that bad suspension parts can lead to other issues with your tyres, brakes, and steering if they are not immediately addressed and repaired. Fortunately, most modern vehicles have a shock and strut system that’s fairly plug-and-play to switch out if you have basic mechanical skills. Or, you can find a mechanic to replace them for you.  Axles Axles are responsible for spinning the wheels on the vehicle. Unfortunately, because of their location, they are also fairly easy to damage. When axles are bent, dented, or otherwise damaged, they won't spin evenly. This leads to shaking and vibrations and can result in serious wheel or tyre damage if you don’t address it immediately. Unless you want to be one of the many cars you see sitting on the side of the road with a snapped axle and a wheel well resting on the now-detached tyre, make sure that you resolve any issues with your axles right away.  Bonus Tip: When parking your vehicle, always straighten out the wheel so that your tyres and axles are sitting perfectly straight while resting. This reduces the strain on them and ensures that they remain in good condition for a longer lifespan.  Brakes If you specifically notice shaking, trembling, or shuddering when you slow down or hit the brakes, you probably have a brake-related issue. Squealing may indicate a need for new pads, but there are other components of the system to consider. If you feel sudden jerks or vibrations while stopping, you may need new callipers, rotors, or a whole new brake system. Another problem you may experience is a collapsed brake line. If your brakes are not getting the appropriate level of fluid pressure, they won’t work as they should. This could result in the vibrations, jerks, or shakes that you feel when you hit the brakes. Check to make sure that your brakes aren’t getting hot or stuck, as this could be a serious sign of trouble. Any brake issues are a serious safety concern and you need to have them diagnosed and repaired before you get back in your vehicle.  Engine Trouble Finally, if you are feeling excessive vibrations during the accelerating process or at certain speeds, and it feels like that vibration is coming from the engine, you may have a number of issues to consider. If the engine is lacking oxygen, spark, or fuel, it will not run as smoothly as it should, such as in the case of bad spark plugs that could lead to a car idling irregularly and creating excessive shaking and vibration. Other engine troubles related to vibrations could be:
  • Timing belt issues
  • Loose or disconnected hoses
  • Fuel intake calibration issues
  • Damaged motor mounts
  • Torque converter or other transmission issues
If your spark plugs are relatively new and in good repair, you should consult a mechanic to diagnose what’s going on. Timing belts, also known as cam belts, should be replaced regularly according to the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications. It used to be recommended every 60,000 miles, but some vehicles can now go up to 100,000 miles on a single timing belt, and the mileage recommendations vary from one vehicle to the next. For more information on timing belts, check out our list of Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Timing Belt. If there are no issues here, and you don’t see any hose connection issues or motor mount damage, you may have a fuel intake issue that needs to be addressed. Check Your Driving Habits A lot of the issues mentioned above can be prevented, or at least minimized, by taking stock of your own driving habits and figuring out what you can do to be a better driver for the sake of your car. For starters, if you have you recently ran over or bumped anything with your car, you could be feeling vibrations as a result of a damaged rim or because your wheel alignment and balance were offset when you hit a curb or another object. Be Proactive for Fewer Future Repairs When attempting to diagnose what is causing your car’s lack of a smooth ride, it may take some time to go through all of the different possible systems and potential problems to determine what is going on. If you don’t have the time to diagnose or want to make sure that you get it right, you can let a mechanic do the work for you. Even if you end up doing the work yourself, getting an accurate diagnosis will make all the difference in the outcome.  The good news is that most of the issues that ruin your smooth ride are fairly preventable if you are a little more careful about your driving habits. Try to avoid potholes, bumps, curbs, and other obstacles on the road as much as you can. Have your brakes checked and changed regularly, and make sure that you perform all the routine maintenance that your car needs.  The one thing that you shouldn’t do is put off diagnosing or making repairs on any of the issues discussed here. These are all major systems that need to be in good working order for your safety. If your ride is more jarring than it used to be, you should figure out the cause and make the necessary repairs as soon as possible both for your comfort and your peace of mind.  Get the OEM parts that you need for your vehicle repairs, including brakes, suspension parts, axles, engine parts, and wheels and tyres at Autofixa. We specialise in genuine OEM replacement parts and can help you keep your vehicle in the best condition for your comfort, safety, and peace of mind.

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