Driving a car with a broken or damaged suspension system is like walking with a broken leg. It will feel unbalanced and unstable, which can cause you to lose control of your car or worse.
Your suspension system provides driving comfort by smoothing out bumps in the road and traction by keeping the wheels on the ground as much as possible. Over time, parts of your suspension could wear out or break completely. If this happens, is it still safe to drive your car?
In general, the damaged or worn part will need to be repaired or replaced before your car is driven. However, this can vary depending on the part that is broken.
Can I drive with a damaged strut?
No. It needs to be repaired as soon as possible.
A strut works by absorbing the bounce of your car driving over bumps in the road. Struts on the front-end of your vehicle are also crucial for steering and alignment. Driving with a broken strut will be extremely uncomfortable for you and your passengers, and is unsafe in an emergency. It can also damage other components in your car.
Can I drive with damaged springs?
No. It is not recommended.
A damaged or collapsed spring can cause sagging and noise and affect alignment angles. While you can still drive, the ride will be rough and the car will be difficult to control in an emergency. Plus, bumps could damage other parts of the car. If the springs have collapsed so much that your car's body is resting on one or more tyres, it is unsafe to drive your car any further as your tyre could come apart at any moment due to the contact.
Can I drive with damaged control arms?
Yes. Although you will need to take extra care.
The control arms allow the suspension to pivot on bushings for quiet articulation of the arms as they move. They are connected to the frame and house the ball joints. Control arms can be damaged when driving over potholes or in an accident. Bent control arms can affect your car's alignment, causing handling issues and additional tyre wear.
Can I drive with a damaged drive shaft?
No. It should be checked as soon as you notice symptoms.
Commonly found on rear-wheel drive cars, the drive shaft transmits torque from the engine to the wheels. They are a very precisely balanced and weighted component as they rotate at high speeds and torque values in order to turn the wheels. If there is a problem with the drive shaft, there will be intense vibrations and abnormal noises from underneath the car. Either of these symptoms should be checked by a certified mechanic as soon as possible as a damaged drive shaft could lead to accelerated wear on other suspension and drivetrain components, causing further damage.
Can I drive with a damaged anti-roll bar?
Yes. Although, preferably not for long.
There are very few parts within your suspension system that you can safely leave alone for a while after they break or fail. A anti-roll bar is one of them. A broken anti-roll bar allows the car to roll more when cornering, but it's safe as long as all four wheels remain on the ground. However, a damaged anti-roll bar means it's more difficult to make sudden turns, for example emergency manoeuvring, so you'll need to drive slower than normal until the anti-roll bar is replaced.
Can I drive with a flat tyre?
No. Change it as soon as possible.
As part of your suspension system, tyres can be damaged by the road surface. As well as potentially destroying your wheel, driving on a flat tyre can make it difficult to stop quickly in an emergency and your car could pull sharply to one side or make steering tough.
Can I drive with a damaged wheel?
No. Your car won't move at all when a wheel is broken.
While it's possible to drive on a cracked wheel, it is not recommended. This is because a crack could turn into a complete break at any second, which would result in a catastrophic failure and a possible crash.
Can I drive with a damaged shock absorber?
Yes. Although it won't be a comfortable journey.
A broken shock absorber will result in your car bouncing around, as well as excessive rolling, squatting and diving. In other words, it won't be comfortable. Plus, your car will be harder to control, especially at high speeds. For that reason, you should never drive a car with a broken shock absorber at high speeds and avoid sudden turns and abrupt stops.
Can I drive with a damaged steering linkage?
No. Get it fixed as soon as possible.
A car with a broken steering linkage (for example, a tie rod end or axial rod) cannot be relied on to turn when you want. It is extremely dangerous with a broken steering linkage.
Can I drive with failed power steering?
Yes. Although it'll be slow going.
When your power steering fails, it is still possible to drive. However, it will take a lot of effort, especially when turning. For your driving comfort, it's recommended to get your power steering fixed quickly.
Your suspension system is complex, and every part needs to be working correctly to ensure a smooth and safe journey for you and your passengers. Any broken or damaged part can have a negative impact on your car's handling, steering or braking - making it dangerous to drive.
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