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Front End and Suspension Services

Bill Tyson’s Auto Repair will service and repair all suspension components and operational systems to assure that your vehicle is functioning just as it came off of the assembly line. Any loss of the suspension’s operation could be dangerous causing extensive damage to your vehicle and more importantly be fatal to you, your passengers or others.

Our ASE Certified technicians are trained to inspect and service today’s modern complex suspensions as well as vintage, classic car, simple suspension systems.

Some of the components that we service and repair.
Why Choose Us For Front End and Suspension Services?

  • Shock absorbers and struts

  • Steering systems

  • Springs

  • Wheels and tires

  • Linkages

  • Electric power steering

  • Bushings, bearings, and joints

  • Hydraulic power steering

  • Vehicle Suspension Alignment

Fraquently Asked Questions

Ball Joints

When should your ball joints be replaced?


There are many parts in your vehicle that are important for safe driving, and a ball joint is one of them. A ball joint is a part of the front suspension that connects the control arm to the steering knuckle that holds the front wheel. The connection flexes allowing the front wheel to steer and move up and down. Modern cars have at least two ball joints in the front end; many trucks have four. Ball joints are built into the control arm and may be replaced as one unit.

A ball joint consists of a housing (socket) and a stud with a ball; it serves as a flexible joint. In some trucks and older vehicles, ball joints have grease fittings and need to be greased periodically. Most modern cars have non-serviceable ball joints that are factory greased and sealed with a dust boot.




When should ball joints be inspected?


Ball joints need to be inspected periodically and replaced if loose or worn. Some may last for over 160,000 miles, but with bad roads, speed bumps and winter road salts they can cause ball joint failure prematurely. A badly worn ball joint, if not caught in time, can even separate causing a vehicle to lose steering control, creating a very dangerous situation. You may have seen an older car with one of the front wheels collapsed under the vehicle indicating that it was most likely caused by ball joint failure.

A “visual inspection” cannot properly inspect ball joints. To check a ball joint, the front wheel has to be lifted off the ground on a hoist. In some trucks, checking the ball joints is not a simple task: load-carrying ball joints, for example, must be unloaded for proper inspection. We have specific instructions from various vehicle manufacturers on how to inspect ball joints and when a ball joint is determined to be bad.

A ball joint is should be replaced if it loose, has excessive play, or if the dust boot is broken or torn. A damaged dust boot causes the grease to escape then allowing water and dirt can get to the ball joint. In either case, a ball joint won’t last long. In some vehicles, grease fittings serve as ball joint wear indicators. Having a bad ball joint is considered unsafe to drive your vehicle.

It’s a good idea to replace a ball joint if it shows early signs of wear, if it looks dry (lacks grease) or shows excessive rust damage. A major cause for ball joint failures is corrosion damage. A creaking or squeaking noise when driving slowly over large bumps or when turning the steering wheel may be a ball joint that lacks grease. There are also a number of steering and suspension components that can produce a creaking noise, all must be diagnosed properly.




What are the symptoms of a bad ball joint?


A knocking or creaking noise coming from the front end when going over bumps are signs of a bad ball joint. Loose steering and front end excessive play, especially while going over bumps. Importantly some vehicles will not produce any noticeable symptoms even if is bad making it imperative to have the vehicle inspected regularly. If your car needs new ball joints and is out of warranty check with a local dealer and research whether your car manufacturer issued recalls and service campaign bulletins related to ball joints or other vehicle safety issues.

Use good quality parts if you have to replace ball joints for it’s an investment in safety for you and your passengers. Avoid using cheap aftermarket ball joints that are known to have failed within a year or two.




Do ball joints have to be replaced in pairs?


Often when one ball joint is bad the other could be worn out too, but it’s not necessary. In some pickup trucks with double-arm front suspension, the upper and lower ball joints on one side are often replaced at the same time if the labor overlaps.

In some vehicles, ball joints are riveted or threaded into the control arm. This type is bit more difficult to replace, and the repair will cost more.

Ball joints In many vehicles are press-fitted into the control arms or into the steering knuckles (spindles). This type of ball joint must be pressed out using special tools thus taking more time and costs. Rarely a new ball joint cannot be pressed back in safely then the ball joint is replaced together with the steering knuckle or the control arm.

After ball joint replacement, in some vehicles, wheel alignment must be performed.





Alignments

How often should I have a wheel alignment?


The process of checking and adjusting the angles of the wheels, relative to each other, and to the car body or frame is a wheel alignment. The vehicle is placed on an alignment rack to perform the wheel alignment. Special sensors are then mounted to each of the four wheels or only two wheels for a front or rear alignments (4-wheel alignment is the best option). A computer is used to then measure the actual angles of the wheel sensors (called toe, camber, caster, etc.) Our technician compares the angles to the specific alignment specs for the vehicle and then corrects the wheel angles accordingly. Prior to the wheel alignment, our technician will test drive the vehicle, adjust the tire pressure, as well as check the ride height and basic suspension and steering components (e.g. ball joint, tie rod, strut).




With bad tie rods or control arms should you get an alignment?


If any of the steering or suspension components are bad they should be replaced before the wheel alignment. After the alignment, you can get a printout showing the wheel angles before and after the alignment.




Why do you need a wheel alignment?


Over time the wheel angles change and because of this a wheel alignment is required. Angles change as a result of deformation and wear of various rubber bushings in the vehicle suspension, including sagging springs. After hitting large potholes, curbs, speed bumps, or an accident, the wheel alignment needs to be checked. Replacements of major suspension or steering components require a wheel alignment well. Similarly, it should be done when lowering or raising the suspension heights. Symptoms of improper wheel alignment: – When driving straight the steering wheel is off center – When driving on a straight and level road the vehicle pulls to one side – The vehicle feels unstable, wanders from side to side doesn’t hold the road well, – Tires screech when turning – Uneven tire wear




How often should the wheel alignment be done?


We recommend doing the wheel alignment every two-three years or if there are signs that the alignment is off. A wheel alignment is recommended when new tires are installed. If your car has wider tires or if it’s a sports car, alignments should be done more often. Re-checking the wheel alignment after a year or two of driving usually shows that it will be slightly out of alignment. After hitting a large bump the alignment will most likely be off, but if your vehicle holds the road well and the tires are wearing evenly, doing the wheel alignment every year is not necessary. Car makers vehicle’s maintenance schedule typically don’t include the wheel alignment timetables, but it’s advised to check if a tire is worn unevenly.




What are the benefits of doing a wheel alignment?


Your vehicle’s suspension and steering components will last longer, handle better and your tires will get better mileage. If you have a sporty car or wide tires, after the wheel alignment, you will notice that the car holds the road better and feels more stable.





Shocks & Struts

Is it required to replace both shock absorbers or struts if only one is bad?


It’s usually recommended to replace them in pairs, both front struts or both rear shocks because a new shock absorber will absorb road bumps better than the old one, but it’s not required. If you replace only one shock absorber, it may create an “unevenness” from side to side when driving over bumps. However, if your car is a newer model replacing only one strut or shock absorber may be enough since the opposite side is most likely still good.




Should you replace all four struts/shock absorbers at the same time?


It is only necessary if they are all bad. If your truck or SUV has four old shock absorbers and you want your vehicle to have a bit smoother ride, why not replace them all the same time since they are not very expensive to replace.




Do coil springs or strut mounts need to be changed when replacing the struts?


Not typically, but in some vehicles, sway bar links are connected to the struts and a sway bar link must be removed to replace the strut. The nut that holds the sway bar link sometimes seizes up, making it almost impossible to remove without damaging the link. In these rare cases, replacing the sway bar link will be required and fortunately they are not very expensive.​Replacing struts involves removing coil springs that are under high tension and is very dangerous to be done at home as a DIY project. It’s best to trust this job to Bill Tyson Auto Repair because we have special spring compressor tools that can safely assemble or disassemble a loaded strut. Replacing shock absorbers is less expensiveand in most vehicles a wheel alignment is not necessary when the shock absorber is replaced. At Bill Tyson Auto Repair we can use original manufacturer parts or save you money with deep discounts using top quality aftermarket parts. Either way they’re backed with the best warranties in the business.​





Tie Rod Ends

When does the tie rod end need to be replaced?


A tie rod is a vital part of the steering system. Large SUVs, pickup trucks and some older cars have a steering system that uses a recirculating ball mechanism. Many modern cars are equipped with rack-and-pinion steering. In both systems tie rods have the same operational function: they connect the steering rack or linkage to the steering knuckles. A tie rod works in the rack and pinion steering system and is attached to the vehicle body, frame or subframe. Steering knuckles function are to hold the front wheels in position. When you turn the steering wheel, the steering rack moves and the tie rods turn the steering knuckles in the turning direction.
The two components that make up a tie rod are the inner and outer tie rod ends. Both tie rod ends have ball joints. The inner tie rod end is greased and protected by the steering rack boot. The outer tie rod end is too filled with grease, but it’s protected by a small boot made of rubber or plastic. A common problem with the tie rod ends is that they wear out and get loose. This typically happens when a rubber boot breaks or cracks and dirt or moisture penetrates the inside of the tie rod end causing wear or corrosion. The outer tie rod ends typically fail more often. With heavier cars and SUVs greater loads tie rod problems are more common. A major safety concern is loose tie rod separation causing the vehicle to lose steering control. Disabled vehicles seen with the front wheels pointing in different directions could be caused by tie rod ends having separated.




What are the symptoms of a loose tie rod end?


Indication of a loose tie rod end includes a clunking, rattling or knocking noise in the front end and looseness felt in the steering. Unfortunately, a loose tie rod end may not produce any symptoms and it is important to have your mechanic annually check the steering system, brakes, suspension and other underneath components. The only way to properly inspect tie rods and other steering and suspension components is having the vehicle is raised on a lift.




Can a bad tie rod cause shaking?


Yes, looseness in the steering is caused by excessively worn tie rod ends. Shaking in the front end may come and go at certain speeds. This problem is especially common with a recirculating ball steering system used in older SUVs and pickup trucks. A weak steering damper makes the problem worse




Is wheel alignment necessary after replacing a tie rod end?


Yes, steering angles are controlled by the tie rods. To adjust steering angles the thread or clamp connecting inner and outer tie rods is used. After the replacement of any of the tie rod ends, the vehicle will need a wheel alignment to bring the steering and suspension angles back to within specifications. Wheel alignments are an additional cost.




Should tie rod ends be replaced on both sides at the same time?


If a tie rod is in good shape, there is no need to replace it. Often, tie rods on both sides wear out at the same rate and if one tie rod end is bad and the other is starting to go, it is best to replace both. Doing both at the same time only requires one wheel alignment. A damaged protective boot is another good reason to replace a working tie rod end. With a damaged boot the tie rod won’t last long.




Should both inner and outer tie rod ends be replaced together?


If the tie rod end is good there is no need to replace it.




Does a tie rod need any maintenance?


Some tie rod ends have grease fittings and must be greased periodically. With many modern cars, tie rod ends are filled with grease and sealed at the factory and don’t need any maintenance. See your owner’s manual or ask your mechanic to check if tie rods have grease fittings or not, during a regular service.




Should I get an alignment with bad tie rod ends or controls arms?


If any of the steering or suspension components are bad they should be replaced before the wheel alignment. After the alignment, you can get a printout showing the wheel angles before and after the alignment.





Wheel Balancing

Why should I have my wheels balanced?


Your wheels are the connection between your vehicle’s chassis and the road surface. When your wheels are out-of-balance your connection to the road surface is compromised. Driving with out-of-balance wheels, on the various road conditions, can compound the effects that bumps, road irregularities and other hazards already are causing to your vehicle’s suspension. A well-balanced set of wheels will minimize any additional wear and tear that normal road usage causes.




When should I get my wheels balanced?


Whenever you are getting new tires it is a normal service to have the wheels balanced at that time. Some other possible reasons you may need to get them balanced are: -- Vibration in the steering wheel, the floorboard or your seat -- During recommended tire rotation service -- Every two years with normal driving or yearly with rough road driving -- After getting a flat or tire repair -- Uneven tire wear -- Tire rim balancing weight falls off




What’s the difference between wheel balancing and alignment?


Both are a regular part of vehicle suspension maintenance, but wheel balancing isn’t the same as getting a wheel alignment. A wheel alignment corrects the angles of the tires so they travel in the same direction and make contact with the road properly. Alignment reduces uneven tire wear and extends the life of your tires. Having a wheel balanced fixes any balancing irregularities that the tire on the rim may have when spinning at high speeds. Weights are added to the rims to counteract any imbalances.





Vehicles that we specialize in front end and alignment service and repair.

Mercedes | BMW | Land Rover | Range Rover | Jaguar | Audi | GM | Chevrolet | Chevy | Buick | Pontiac | Dodge | Chrysler | Tesla | Volt | Toyota | Honda | Nissan

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We offer:

  • Same day tune-up service.

  • 100% parts and labor warranty.

  • Free vehicle pick up and drop off service.

  • Service all makes and models. Foreign and domestic.

  • ASE certified mechanics.