How to Clean Your Leaf Springs
June 29, 2021
How can you clean your leaf springs?
- Use a wire brush to remove dirt
- Degrease the springs
- Inspect the springs and mountings
As part of your vehicle’s suspension, leaf springs are subject to frequent wear and tear due to the number of moving parts present. Especially with an off-road or 4×4 truck, these components are constantly being barraged by debris, splashed with mud water, or dragged across different tracks. It’s crucial that you know how to clean your leaf springs in order to maintain their structural integrity and reduce the rate of wear and tear.
Keep in mind that each time the suspension is subject to flexes and bumps, the leaves in the spring system tend to budge against the others. This pushes the dirt and rust deeper into the springs’ layers. When left unattended, this may cause the bushings to dry out and crack, as the metal-to-metal contact gets more frequent.
You don’t have to immediately repair and replace your leaf springs when met with the above situation. You simply need to conduct the right cleaning and inspection to prevent further damage. Read on to learn more.
Use a Wire Brush to Remove Dirt
Leaf springs are made out of several thin layers of spring steel in varying lengths. These are held and secured together by clamps to prevent any loose components when the vehicle is in motion. As part of the natural suspension movement, these leaves may press and grind against each other, causing dirt and debris to get stuck in between.
As much as possible, you’ll want to remove these unwanted particles by cleaning the gaps with a wire brush. In your garage or on a flat road surface, raise the end of the vehicle with the jack for easy access to the leaf spring system. Remove both rear wheels so that the vehicle weight does not rest on the springs. This is done to slightly separate the leaves apart, making it much faster to clean them.
Thoroughly rub the wire brush against the leaves, ensuring that the shackles and bushes are all clean. Work the tool along each side of the spring, including both upper and under surfaces, as well as any clips attached. If necessary, wear eye protection to prevent the small particles from entering your eyes.
Degrease the Springs
For vehicles that haven’t been cleaned for a long time, it’s common for the leaf springs to be coated with excessive amounts of dirt, debris, or sludge. Using a wire brush alone may not be enough, as the dirt may adhere too much onto the leaves.
In this case, you may want to apply an appropriate amount of industrial degreaser designed for multi-purpose use. You can directly spray it onto the components, or apply the degreasing fluid onto the wire brush.
After exhaustive cleaning with the degrease, some of the muck may fall onto the floors, which can leave an unsightly mess. Avoid this by laying newspapers in the work area. After brushing the springs, make sure to also dry them with highly absorbent rags to minimize some of the dirt.
Inspect The Springs and Mountings
While you’re cleaning the leaf springs, it’s also a good habit to conduct visual inspections on the mountings and the springs themselves. Doing this helps identify any potential faults or damages on your leaf springs before you use the vehicle again.
Check to see if one of the springs is flatter compared to the others — this may cause the car to have an uneven height or tilt to one side on flat ground. On the edges of the leaves, examine any cracks or fractures.
Have this immediately repaired as soon as possible, since welding alone won’t be enough. If there are any developing signs of corrosion, all the more important that you take your vehicle to a servicing shop for a replacement diagnosis.
The key to extending the life of your leaf spring suspension system is to understand the cleaning basics. All car owners have to know how to clean their leaf springs, as this is crucial to achieving a comfortable ride and maintaining the suspension function.
As the leaves in a leaf spring tend to gather all kinds of dirt collected from prolonged use, each gap has to be slightly loosened and cleaned with a wire brush. A degreaser may be necessary to achieve thorough cleaning and increase mobility for the springs, as well as, identify any damages that may be present.
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