How bad is rough terrain on your truck?

Rough Terrain and Truck Suspensions

Road Rage
Don't think rough roads are getting the last laugh. Vehicle tires and suspension systems take their toll on roadways, too, and the heavier the vehicle, the worse the damage tends to be. Tire configurations, inflation levels, pavement characteristics and suspension setups all figure into how much trouble a truck leaves in its wake.

While it can be exhilarating to traverse rough terrain, your truck's suspension system is typically a little less thrilled by the experience. Like any vehicle part, use leads to wear and tear and severe use leads to severe wear and tear. That's not to say a truck's suspension system won't last a good long time, but if a sizable portion of its travels are spent conquering off-road conditions, it's definitely less likely to last as long as a truck that maneuvers sedately over freshly paved suburban streets and super-smooth highway stretches.

Exactly how much extra damage traversing rough terrain has on the suspension system depends on a number of factors. Different suspension systems are built to optimize certain conditions above others, so one that's geared for off-roading in particular will probably help boost longevity. The terrain itself also makes a difference. The more extreme the conditions, the more the suspension system has to buck up and perform. Driving through sand or mud is likely to have a much different impact than driving over hard-packed contoured soil or rock-scattered rough and tumble landscapes.

If your truck does seem to be vibrating, knocking or jumping around more than normal -- or you're having some trouble controlling it during sharp braking, accelerating and turning -- it could be a sign that things are starting to go sour. Tire damage is one clue you can look for, as well as oil leaking from the shock absorbers. These issues are better fixed sooner rather than later, because as we noted earlier, suspension systems aren't just for creature comfort, they also fulfill key roles in terms of drivability.

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Related HowStuffWorks Articles


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