car coil springs

Why are my coil springs breaking?

9th Dec, 2022

Coil springs are one of those car components that don’t get a lot of attention, and there are plenty of drivers who’d be hard pressed to explain what they do – but even so, nobody would be able to drive without them.

Basically, your car’s coil springs form an essential part of your suspension, designed to absorb the impact of driving over rough terrain. They’ll normally last around 60,000 to 90,000 miles before they need to be replaced. Once they do finally fail though, the costs can vary, depending on how many springs need repairing. Each spring normally takes between one to three hours, at a cost of about £40 a spring.

Now, compared to a lot of car repairs, that might not seem all that bad. Sure, not particularly welcome, but not heartbreakingly expensive like, say, a new engine. But then again, if your car is particularly old, or it’s the latest in a recent series of repairs, it might leave you wondering – would it be better just to scrap my car?

How to tell when your coil springs are failing

Since your coil springs form a pretty integral part of your car, you’ll get plenty of warning when they’re on the way out. Here are some of the major signs to look out for:

• Loud clunking or knocking noises, especially when driving rough or uneven terrain
• One corner of your car sits noticeably lower than the others (often referred to as misalignment). It may also sway or bounce more than usual when you’re driving
• Your car pulls to one side, or the steering is otherwise impaired

All of these can be pretty serious signals in themselves, so don’t be tempted to ignore them – it’s best to get your car to a mechanic as soon as you can.

Why do coil springs fail?

In a word: fatigue. Just like a number of other parts in your car, your coil springs are in constant use, so eventually the pressure will take its toll. (As we’ve touched on above though, you can expect them to go for many thousands of miles before that happens.)

Corrosion is another major factor in coil spring failure. A plastic coating is applied to coil springs when they’re manufactured, but eventually this coating can start to become damaged. It can become a particularly common problem in winter, when roads are frequently salted to prevent cars from slipping on the snow and ice. This salt has corrosive properties, so it can start to affect your coil springs if they’re already reaching the end of their natural life.

You may have heard that the issue is caused by using cheaper metal, or going over speed bumps too quickly, or overloading. The latter two aren’t great for your car anyway, it’s true, but very rarely make an appreciable difference to your coil springs.

Can I still drive a car with broken springs?

No. You can’t drive a vehicle that has any element of its suspension broken. Any coil springs which are damaged or collapsed can cause your car to sag, which can inflict a lot more damage on it in both the short and long term.

One of the major issues with collapsed coil springs is that if your car has notably bigger or wider wheels, the tyre sidewall can sit quite close to the spring. That means when the spring breaks, it can often damage the tyre as well.

What can I do to prevent my coil springs failing?

To be honest, not a lot.

The people with the greatest power to do something about it tend to be car manufacturers themselves, who’ll sometimes fit spring catchers to limit the potential damage that could be caused when a spring breaks. However, they’re not fool-proof measures – the amount of energy trapped in each spring makes it almost impossible to predict the way it’ll break, so spring catchers aren’t effective 100% of the time. It’s also worth noting that they can significantly add to the cost of assembly.

In terms of what you can do individually, it’s mainly just a regular clean underneath the car with a hose or pressure washer, especially in winter. That can help clean it of the road salt that could potentially corrode their protective coating.

Ultimately though, it’s just one of those annoying aspects of car ownership that just involves leaving them to do their job as best you can and making sure you’ve got some spare cash to fork out for them when they eventually break. Most people do, but if you ever find that the cost becomes too much, or that the total number of repairs is starting to stack up, then you might naturally start to think about scrapping your car. That’s where we can help.

At Scrap Car Network, our mission is to get you the very best price for your car. All you have to do is enter your car reg and postcode into the fields on our homepage, and we’ll provide you with a free, no-obligation instant scrap car quote! Curious to see how much your car is worth?

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