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Recommendations for car suspension work?

By ant - 8 March 2009 32

I’m sorry to post one of those evil “where’s the best dandelions in Canberra” topics, but this one has got me stumped.  Car suspension is a black art, evidently. I’ve been given a monster quote for suspension work allegedly needed on my hitherto cheap to run car, and I am not sure who to go to to investigate options.

To backtrack. The Vitara has been carefully serviced since it landed on our shores in 94.  Its only consumption has been some windscreens, it’s almost through its second set of tyres (another imminent expense), and it used to like batteries a lot. And that’s it, besides servicing and less petrol than most cars on the road. Even the brakes are the originals (it’s coming up to 266,000 ks). I do love my weird little car.

A few services ago, the service bloke mentioned the suspension was (insert rude word mechanics use), and my CD player agrees. So at a recent service at the place I go to, I asked them to have a look at it and tell me what needed doing etc. 

Well, the verdict was all new shocks (fair enough), and some bushes, which are apparently tube things. Trailing arms, and some other bushes (tubes). And the quote? $1600! My eyes still haven’t returned to their normal size.

So. I want to get this sorted. I’m wondering if this non-specialist mob just went with a google-type search. The shocks for Vitaras on searches are some exxy 4WD ultra-shocks called Big Dog, for instance. So I basically want to see if I can come out of all this cheaper. It’s just such a lot of money to find all at once for one issue. 

I guess I’m going to try Pedders although their reputation for up-selling precedes them (one forum member I remember was fulminating, he’d replaced the entire suspension with some new lovely stuff, his wife took the car to Pedders for something, and they recommended a full replacment of all the “worn” suspension). But I’ll try them anyway.

But can anyone recommend a suspension guru I can try?  If I have to spend the money, fine, I’ll spend it. But I just want to see if there’s options for doing it for less… as I still have to stump up for the tyres.   The bushes are worn, you can see them pretty easily and the padding stuff seems to have shrivelled away. I’m not sure what they do, but evidently they’re vital.  and the car bounces a few times if you push down hard on its bum. Plainly it’s ready for a new undercarriage.

What’s Your opinion?

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32 Responses to
Recommendations for car suspension work?
Affirmative Action M 2:28 pm 09 Mar 09

I agree about Soobaroo in Mitchel
They are dead set honest & do a good job.

luther_bendross 1:51 pm 09 Mar 09

+1 for Pommy Bastard. I check here for all sorts of services: car stuff, tattooists, pies (though yet to find a > 7/10 pie). Word of mouth beats advertising dollars every time.

Also, if someone quoted me $1600 for a full suspension overhall (on a Scooby Doo Liberty) I would hand it over then and there. I reckon that’s bang on the money Ant. Though let us know where you go and the results too.

Pommy bastard 1:40 pm 09 Mar 09

This really is a great place for consumer reviews. I trust the word of mouth / experience, reccommendations here far more than any advertised service.

ant 12:11 pm 09 Mar 09

Ah ha. Two good prospects, and both handily in Fyshwick (Mitchell is a bit of a hike from here). Now that I think of it, Revell has been around for quite a while… and while that is not always a guarantee of them being good, someone endorsing them certainly is!

reepy 12:04 pm 09 Mar 09

Revell in Fyshwick are masters of the black art that is steering and suspension. I wouldn’t take my cars anywhere else.

Spam Box 7:47 am 09 Mar 09

That’s amazing ant but hey, more power to you! I’m jealous

Holden Caulfield 11:21 pm 08 Mar 09

ant said :

I know Inline, they probably woudln’t let my car through the gate. I’ve never seen so many exotics and kitted-up hobby projects in my life.


I’ve had some stuff done by Capital in the past and had no cause to complain. 🙂

ant 10:09 pm 08 Mar 09

I think I got them in 2000. Might have been 2001, not sure. I loathed them and hoped they’d wear out really fast, nope. Hopeless in snow, despite having a M+S alleged rating. The wheel size is a bit weird and not many tyres fit them, and even fewer AT tyres. I hate buying tyres, it’s no fun.

I think the ride deteriorated as soon as I got the things on.

el 9:57 pm 08 Mar 09

If the tyres are 7 years old, they’re probably rock hard and won’t help at all with the bumpy ride.

ant 9:32 pm 08 Mar 09

I’m pretty sure I didn’t buy a 3rd set of tyres and somehow forgot about them… 4WD tyres are expensive. I guess it’s a light car, I dunno. Also, I get proper AT tyres for it, not road tyres, and expect they’re a bit more robust.

A mechanic commented once that the brakes were still OK and was sayign Suzuki must’ve used good ones, so I went hunting on my service sheets (I’ve got every one, since 94), and never a mention of brakes. they have the cheapo drums and discs combo. Who knows though, maybe someone replaced them and didn’t tell me (or charge me).

I’m one of the few drivers on the road who still has a 3rd pedal on the floor. The brakes don’t get much work, generally.

Sounds like Capital in Fyshwick will be the first stop, for sure. And at least they’ll know if there’s any cheaper options around. They sound very safe.

I know Inline, they probably woudln’t let my car through the gate. I’ve never seen so many exotics and kitted-up hobby projects in my life.

Holden Caulfield 6:32 pm 08 Mar 09

Spam Box said :

How in the hell did you get 266,000 klm out of two sets of tyres ?.

Probably the same way one comes to the conclusion that $1600 is too much for a complete suspension overhaul. I’m just as curious about 266,000kms out of one set of brake pads, even if (at a guess) the Vitara may only have discs up front.

ant, given the running costs of your car have been so low I reckon you need to cop the $1600 quote on your suspension, as that seems a fair enough price to me.

If you dare, Inline Suspension in Queanbeyan are supposed to be the duck’s guts locally. But make sure you’re sitting down if $1600 made your eyes squint.

Bottom line, after tyres, suspension is probably the next most important thing not cut costs on.

Spam Box 1:19 pm 08 Mar 09

How in the hell did you get 266,000 klm out of two sets of tyres ?.

Sgt.Bungers 12:48 pm 08 Mar 09

Yeah steer clear of Pedders. I have never dealt with them personally, but have heard nothing but horror stories from friends, workmates and online forums. Almost all about upselling and in some cases refusing to give cars back until the work is done because “the car is too dangerous”, which of course no auto repairer is allowed to do.

For the few suspension jobs I’ve needed doing I’ve been to Capital Steering and Suspension in Fyshwick, they seem to do a good job. As others have said, just make sure you get a few quotes and you should be right.

farnarkler 12:38 pm 08 Mar 09

My parents use Subaroo in Mitchell for their mechanicals. It’s always worth trying a few places for quotes before heading straight to Pedders.

el 11:59 am 08 Mar 09

Hi Ant.

That’s actually not too bad a quote. When I was feeling lazy (and rather busy) I had front+rear shocks supplied and fitted by a workshop on my old Commondore and the cost was almost a grand (this was the cheapest price I could find). Bushes can and will be a right royal PITA to replace, and the labour cost will be the highest component of the entire job.

Having said that, I’ve had a couple of encounters with Capital Steering and Suspension in Fyshwick. I think the last time I was there was to get a wheel alignment on my old Valiant a few years ago – it required a new tie-rod end so they simply replaced it for the cost of the part ($15 IIRC). They didn’t even charge for labour.

And…Pedders have that reputation for a reason 🙂

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