Maintenance Tips, Tricks And Hacks For Your Vehicle

Service Suspension System – Symptoms, Causes, Fixes, & Resets




The service suspension system is a critical component of a vehicle, directly impacting its performance, ride comfort, and safety.

Symptoms of a faulty system can include rough rides, drifting, braking issues, and uneven tire wear.

Common causes for these issues range from worn-out suspension components, leaks in the system, and wiring problems, to malfunctioning sensors or air struts.

Identifying and addressing these problems promptly is crucial.

This article contains:

Key Takeaway

  • Symptoms of a bad suspension system can include an unusually rough ride, difficulty steering, noticeable vehicle lean or sway in turns, nosediving when braking, and uneven tire wear.
  • The Service Suspension System light typically turns on due to issues such as worn-out or damaged suspension components, improper alignment, or problems with the vehicle’s electronic suspension control system.

What Does The Service Suspension System Mean?

The service suspension system is a crucial part of a vehicle that enhances ride comfort by maintaining the vehicle’s ride height as it traverses over bumps and uneven surfaces.

When the “service suspension system” warning light illuminates on the dashboard, it indicates that the vehicle’s computer has detected an issue with the system.

This could mean that the rear suspension height may be lower than usual under heavy loads or that there’s damage to certain components such as hoses.

In certain vehicles like the GMC Denali, this message means that the vehicle’s self-leveling suspension system has been disabled.

Symptoms Of a Bad Suspension System

Symptoms of a bad suspension system include:

1. Pulling to One Side When Driving

This symptom indicates that the car is not balanced, which could be due to a problem with the suspension system. It may also suggest issues with the tires or wheel alignment.

2. Bumpy Ride

If your ride feels bumpy or rough, it could mean there’s an issue with your vehicle’s suspension. The suspension system is designed to absorb bumps and keep your ride smooth, so a noticeable change in ride comfort could signal a problem.

3. One Corner Sits Lower than Others

If one corner of the vehicle sits lower than the others when parked, it suggests a damaged spring or other suspension components.

4. Diving, Rolling, or Squatting

Excessive diving during braking, leaning (rolling) during turns, or rear-end squatting during acceleration are signs of worn-out shocks and struts.

5. Difficulty Steering

If steering becomes difficult, especially during turns, it could indicate a problem with the steering system, which is directly linked to the suspension.

6. Excess Tire Wear

Uneven or rapid tire wear can be a sign of a bad suspension system. This is because misaligned suspension can cause certain parts of the tires to bear more weight, leading to uneven wear.

7. Leaking Around Shocks and Struts

Visible leaks around the shocks and struts are a clear sign that these components of the suspension system are failing.

What Causes The Service Suspension System To Turn On

  • Worn-Out Suspension Components: Over time, components like shocks, struts, and springs can wear out and cause the service suspension system light to turn on.
  • Leaking Fluids: If the hydraulic fluid or air in the suspension system is leaking, it can cause the warning light to illuminate.
  • Faulty Sensors: Modern cars use sensors to monitor the suspension system. If these sensors malfunction, they can trigger the service suspension system warning.
  • Damaged Air Struts: In vehicles with air suspension systems, damaged or leaking air struts can cause the warning light to come on.
  • Wiring Problems: Damaged or corroded wires can disrupt the communication between the suspension system and the vehicle’s computer, leading to the warning light.
  • Software Issues: Sometimes, the vehicle’s computer software might need an update or reset, which can also cause the warning light to appear.
  • Heavy Load: Carrying a load heavier than the vehicle’s capacity can put excessive strain on the suspension system, triggering the warning light.

How Do You Inspect The Suspension System?

Here is how to inspect the suspension system:

1. Perform the Bounce Test

This test involves applying downward pressure to each corner of your vehicle to test the suspension. A healthy suspension should stabilize quickly after bouncing.

2. Visually Inspect the Strut Mounts

Look for signs of damage or wear on the strut mounts. Any cracks, dents, or excessive rust could indicate a problem.

3. Measure the Height of Your Front Wheels

Any significant difference in the height of your front wheels could suggest an issue with the suspension2.

4. Check the Steering Linkage

Inspect the steering linkage for any play or looseness. This could indicate a problem with the suspension system.

5. Inspect for Leaks

Check for leaks in the power steering hoses and the steering gear. Any leak could compromise the effectiveness of the suspension.

6. Examine the Shocks and Struts

Check the condition of the shocks and struts. Look for signs of leakage, dents, or other damages.

7. Check the Tires

Inspect the tires for correct inflation pressure and make sure they’re all the same size. Heavy tread wear or low tire pressure can affect the suspension system.

How To Fix The Service Suspension System

Here is how to fix the service suspension system:

1. Identify the Problem

The first step is to identify the specific issue causing the service suspension system warning. This can be done by performing a visual inspection, using diagnostic tools, or taking the vehicle to a professional mechanic for examination.

2. Replace Damaged Components

If any components of the suspension system are damaged or worn out, they will need to be replaced. This could include shocks, struts, springs, or other parts of the suspension system.

3. Fix Leaks

If there are any leaks in the hydraulic fluid or air in the suspension system, these will need to be sealed or the leaking components replaced.

4. Repair or Replace Sensors

If the problem is with the sensors used to monitor the suspension system, these may need to be repaired or replaced. In some cases, the issue may be with the wiring connecting the sensors to the vehicle’s computer.

5. Software Update or Reset

In some cases, the vehicle’s computer software might need an update or reset. This should be done by a professional mechanic or at the dealership.

6. Adjust Vehicle Load

If the service suspension system warning was caused by carrying a load heavier than the vehicle’s capacity, you will need to adjust the load to within the vehicle’s limits.

7. Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is key to preventing future issues with the suspension system. This includes regularly checking and maintaining the correct tire pressure, having your vehicle serviced regularly, and addressing any issues as soon as they arise.

How To Reset The Service Suspension System Light

The service suspension system light on your vehicle’s dashboard is an indicator that something might be wrong with your car’s suspension system.

This could range from minor issues like a sensor malfunction to more serious problems like a failing strut or shock absorber.

In some cases, this light may stay on even after the issue has been resolved. Here’s how you can reset it:

Step 1: Check for Any Remaining Issues

Before resetting the service suspension system light, make sure that all issues with the suspension system have been addressed. If there are still problems, the light will simply come back on after being reset.

Step 2: Use a Diagnostic Scanner

Connect a diagnostic scanner to the vehicle’s OBD-II (On-Board Diagnostic) port. This port is usually located under the dashboard on the driver’s side.

Step 3: Read and Clear Codes

Use the diagnostic scanner to read the trouble codes stored in the vehicle’s computer. Note these codes down for future reference, then use the scanner to clear them.

Step 4: Disconnect the Battery

If the light doesn’t go off after clearing the codes, try disconnecting the vehicle’s battery. Make sure the vehicle is off, then disconnect the negative terminal of the battery. Wait for about 15 minutes, then reconnect it.

Step 5: Visit a Professional

If the service suspension system light still won’t turn off, it’s time to visit a professional mechanic. They will have the necessary tools and knowledge to accurately diagnose and resolve the issue.

Can You Drive With The Service Suspension System Light On?

Driving with the Service Suspension System light on is not recommended. The light is a warning sign that there’s an issue with your vehicle’s suspension system.

This could be due to problems with the air suspension bags, wiring issues, compromised air struts, or faulty air compressors.

Ignoring this light can lead to further damage and potentially dangerous driving conditions. The suspension system is critical for maintaining control of your vehicle, especially when turning, stopping, or maneuvering over uneven surfaces.

A malfunctioning suspension system can compromise the handling, stability, and safety of your vehicle.

Therefore, if the Service Suspension System light comes on, it’s best to have your vehicle inspected by a professional as soon as possible to identify and fix the problem.

Is Suspension Expensive To Fix?

Minor issues such as replacing a suspension bushing might cost around $100 to $500.

However, more substantial repairs like replacing an entire suspension system can range from $1,000 to $5,000 or more.

High-end luxury or performance cars could potentially have even higher repair costs. It’s important to remember that these are just estimates and actual costs can vary.

Therefore, if your Service Suspension System light comes on, it is recommended to get a professional diagnosis and quote for repairs.


Q: What is a suspension system?

A: A suspension system is a collection of components that work together to support the vehicle’s weight, absorb bumps and vibrations, and provide a smooth and controlled ride.

Q: How does a suspension system work?

A: A suspension system works by using various components such as springs, shock absorbers, control arms, and struts to absorb the impact from the road, maintain tire contact, and provide stability and control to the vehicle.

Q: What should I do if my suspension light comes on?

A: If your suspension light comes on, it is an indication that there may be a problem with your suspension system. It’s important to have your vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic to determine the cause of the issue and to prevent further damage to your vehicle.

Q: How often should I have my suspension system inspected?

A: It is recommended to have your suspension system inspected by a qualified mechanic at least once a year or if you notice any signs of suspension problems. Regular inspections can help identify and address any potential issues before they become major problems.

Q: Can I repair my suspension system myself?

A: Repairing a suspension system can be a complex task and requires specialized knowledge and tools. It’s recommended to leave suspension repairs to a professional mechanic who is experienced in working with suspension systems.

Q: What are some signs that my car needs suspension repair?

A: Some signs that your car may need suspension repair include excessive bouncing or vibrating while driving, uneven tire wear, a sagging appearance on one side of the vehicle, and excessive noise when going over bumps or dips in the road.

Q: How important is a functioning suspension system?

A: A functioning suspension system is crucial for maintaining safety, control, and comfort while driving. It helps to maintain traction, absorb road irregularities, and keep the tires in contact with the road surface. A faulty suspension system can negatively affect the handling and stability of the vehicle, making it more difficult to control.

Q: What should I do if my service suspension system warning light comes on?

A: If your service suspension system warning light comes on, it’s important to have your vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible. Ignoring the warning light can lead to further damage to your suspension system and potentially compromise your safety while driving.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, the service suspension system plays a vital role in a vehicle’s performance and safety.

Its malfunctioning can result in a range of symptoms such as rough rides, drifting, braking issues, and uneven tire wear.

The causes behind these issues are diverse, including worn-out components, leaks, wiring problems, and faulty sensors or air struts.

Fixing these issues may involve replacement of parts or recalibration of the system, sometimes necessitating a system reset.



Vide Polowenski, Senior Mechanic

The information in this article is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest mechanic SOPs.

Please take the time to leave a comment if this article has helped you in any way, you need additional help, or you have a suggestion.

Latest Posts

  • Crankshaft Position Sensor Lifespan

    Crankshaft Position Sensor Lifespan

    Crankshaft Position Sensor (CPS), is a pivotal component in your vehicle’s engine. Often referred to as the engine’s heartbeat monitor, the CPS plays a crucial role in ensuring optimal engine performance and efficiency. In this blog post, we delve into the intricacies of the Crankshaft Position Sensor’s lifespan, exploring the factors that influence its durability…

    Read more

  • Crankshaft Position Sensor Fuse Location

    Crankshaft Position Sensor Fuse Location

    This tiny component plays a significant role in the smooth operation of your vehicle’s engine, influencing everything from ignition timing to fuel efficiency. In this post, we delve into the often-overlooked but crucial aspect of vehicle maintenance and repair – locating and understanding the crankshaft position sensor fuse. The crankshaft position sensor fuse in cars…

    Read more

  • How to Replace Your Crankshaft Position Sensor

    How to Replace Your Crankshaft Position Sensor

    Replacing a crankshaft position sensor might seem like a daunting task, reserved only for seasoned mechanics, but with the right guidance, it can be an achievable challenge for even the most novice of car enthusiasts. This crucial component, often hidden within the intricate labyrinth of your engine, plays a pivotal role in the smooth operation…

    Read more