Shocks, Struts, U-Joints, and Alignment
Struts are the part of your suspension that is mounted to the chassis and is involved in keeping your vehicle standing on its tires, taking the shock of bumpy terrains such as potholes, and helps turning your wheels. There are two parts: the spring, which is what carries the weight of the weight of the car, and the shock absorber, which, despite the name, absorbs vibrations more than absorbing shock. That’s the role of the spring, but the shock absorber keeps the vehicle from rocking after hitting a pothole. Make sure you check them regularly, about every time you get an oil change.
U-Joints let the rear axle move around without warping or breaking. If you hear loud clanging when you shift gears, feel vibrations that get greater when you go faster, or hear a grinding sound, it might be a sign you need to replace your U-Joint, and perhaps even your axle. An Axle is the rotating shafts under your car connected to the wheels. Since this is what moves the wheels, you can imagine how important it is that the axles are kept in good condition. The struts and shock absorbers are there to make sure nothing bad happens to them.
Alignment is all about how your tires make contact with the ground. There are many measurements in the alignment, such as the camber, toe, and caster. Camber is whether the tires are oriented inwards or outwards relative to the canterline (think of a line running through the middle of the tires when you face them from head-on). The toe is how it faces in or out of the car if you were looking at the tires from directly above. Caster is how the steering axis faces when you look at it from the side of the tire. It either faces towards the back of the car, or towards the front. There are varying degrees for them all, and they’re all important for your tires because they wear them down differently. The alignment has to be done In such a way that it doesn’t, for example, wear down one side of your tire more than the other. Alignment should be tested every 5000 miles or so.