Vehicles are subjected to a great deal of stress, with increasingly long journeys taken as more and more of us take to the road in our free time. In 2018 250 billion UK road miles were travelled by car and taxi. Long-haul journeys, particularly with the extra weight of holiday luggage, place a particularly heavy burden on the vehicle. In addition, the UK’s roads are often in poor condition. Suspension springs, dampers and chassis parts are subjected to extreme conditions as a result. Driving into the countryside and across mountainous regions also pushes brakes to the limit and often also to the wear limit. After the holidays it pays to check the vehicles are winter ready.
Checking the parts which make up the chassis system – following the holiday season and in readiness for the winter weather – is essential as even slight damage or wear to braking, steering & suspension parts can lead to expensive follow-up repairs due to the corrosion that salt and grit can cause. The following scenarios illustrate the most common causes of damage, highlighting what workshops should look for as standard best practice.
1: If a stone thrown up damages a steering cuff, water and salt can enter the joints of the steering rod and the steering gear. As a result, the rack corrodes and rubs with the rough surface the seal through to the steering cylinder. Oil loss and a failure of the power steering are imminent. Even electric steering systems are not spared damage, as corroded parts can cause noise, stiffness and other problems.
2: The piston rod of the vibration damper and the suspension spring also suffer from small stones or splinter damage. Small craters in the chrome of the piston rod can damage the seals, which leads to oil leakage in the damper and thus to a loss of damping effect. In the case of the suspension spring, local rust spots can weaken the component and in the long term, the spring can break at this point.
3: When it comes to brakes, the service consultant should not only pay attention to the wear condition of the components, but also to the scoring on the disc as small stones and grit can get trapped between the brake disc and the brake block.
ZF Aftermarket provides full service support. With its brands Lemförder, Sachs, and TRW, it is a full-range supplier for chassis: The range includes steering systems, chassis and steering components, shock absorbers, disc and drum brakes, and rubber-to-metal parts. Through its ZF [pro]Tech concept the business also supports the aftermarket with technical information, installation instructions and technical training. And with the ZF pro[Points] bonus program, garages can collect points every time they buy ZF spare parts.