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Coil Springs for Cars

Coil Springs for Cars

Most people believe that their car's primary suspension is the shock absorber. In reality, the job goes to springs. Some vehicles use leaf springs, but most small passenger vehicles (sedans, compacts, etc.) use coil springs exclusively. Nearly all have coil springs at least on the front (steering) end of the vehicle.

Coil springs are just what their name implies: springs made of coiled metal. They absorb shock and allow the weight of the vehicle to ride separate from the roadway underneath it, providing a smooth feel for the car's passengers.

Common coil springs for carsMost of the time, the coil springs will likely last the life of the vehicle. They are made of hardened spring steel and can usually withstand the elements for about as long as the rest of the car's components. On very old vehicles or those which have seen unusually rough service, however, coil springs can fail.

Often, dealerships and car sellers will replace the coil springs in an older car in order to immediately improve its ride and feel for test drivers. This can literally mean adding several hundred dollars to the value of a car as it gives the appearance of newness to the vehicle.

The main enemies of the coil spring are heat, abuse, time and rust.

Time and rust can change the springiness of a coil, causing it to become "bouncy" instead of firm. With age, the spring steel begins to lose its tempering and spring, causing this degradation. Rust exacerbates it. Neither situation is avoidable, since paints do not adhere well to the steel and time cannot be stopped.

The most common type of heat that destroys the spring is from cutting torches and similar devices. It's popular to cut off a section of the springs on many cars in order to lower them to the ground, but this practice often degrades or destroys the temper of the area cut, causing the top of the spring to eventually snap from use. The shortening of the spring's length also often leads to abuse problems as the shorter spring attempts to absorb more during use.

Abuse of a spring comes mainly from using the vehicle in ways it was not intended. Bouncing around off-road in a sedan, for instance, is not what it was designed for and this abuse can quickly destroy springs that become over-used. Areas with unusually rough or bumpy roads (or dirt roads) will also see vehicles with failing coil springs more often.

Replacing a coil spring is generally a straight-forward job. Most mechanics are capable of the job.

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