Explained: What is a Coil Spring on a Car?

If you’ve ever heard a mechanic talk about needing new coil springs, you might be wondering what is actually being discussed. Well, a coil spring forms a major part of your car’s suspension system, having first appeared in the role back in 1906. The springs give you the ability to traverse over rough terrain in comfort, taking the brunt of the movement so your back doesn’t have to.

Close up of a vehicle's suspension system
Suspension System

Can you drive with a broken coil spring?

While there is nothing to stop you from driving with a broken coil spring on your car, it is not something that can be advised. Not only will the ride be immensely uncomfortable, but you’re going to be putting your car in unnecessary levels of danger.

The lack of a working coil spring means your car will not be as responsive as it should be, which means that if you need to make a quick manoeuvre in an emergency you could find yourself in even more trouble than before. Not only that, but the additional pressure put on the remaining parts of the suspension could result in those also suffering similar fates, and adding yet more on to your already large repair bill.

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How much is a coil spring replacement?

With your coil springs forming a major part of your car’s suspension, there’s no surprise to find that they come with somewhat of a premium price tag attached to them. Of course, as is always the case when it comes to predicting the cost of repair work, it will all be dependent on your car, its age, and its specification. However, as a general rule of thumb, don’t be shocked if you find that the cost of a replacement coil spring is somewhere in the region of £200. That’s £200 each. So if you do drive with a broken spring and it causes another to break, that’s at least doubled your repair bill.

What causes coil springs to break?

The most common reason for springs to break is simply down to fatigue. Nothing lasts forever, and car owners know that more than others with parts often wearing out at some point down the line. Unfortunately when it comes to springs, when they reach the end of their useful lifespan, they let go in a rather big way, and equally cost quite a lot to repair.

Can you paint coil springs?

Coil springs are regularly exposed to large amounts of grime kicked up from the road surface, which over time can see your springs scratched, faded or even begin to rust. Luckily it is possible for you to improve their appearance by applying a fresh coat of paint. However, there are a few things you should be aware of before you go out and get a tin of Dulux and a brush.

Normal paint that you’ll find from most craft shops will not cut it, as they are not flexible enough to allow movement of the springs. You’ll need to find yourself either some paint specifically made for use on suspension springs. Alternatively, and this is very much in the realms of DIY hacks – if you happen to be a remote control racer, the sprays used on your car’s bodyshell may also work.

From then, it’s a step-by-step process to ensure the correct procedures are carried out:

  • Strip the original paintwork off using paint stripper and a wire brush (wait for the stripper to cause the paintwork to bubble)
  • Clean the springs with white spirit until they are completely clear of oil and residue and leave them to dry completely.
  • Apply primer to the springs – light at first, and then apply a second, heavier coat once dry. Ensure the entire spring is covered and allow to dry once more. If you feel you still need more coverage, then apply a third coat and leave to dry completely.
  • Once you have chosen the colour for your springs, and ensured the paint is rust-preventative and durable enough, the process is very much like applying the primer. Begin with a light coat, then once that’s dry add another thicker coat across every square millimetre on the spring. 
  • Repeat the colour spray for at least two or three more coats until you are happy you have covered the entire spring.

Do car coil springs wear out?

Coil springs do have a limited shelf life, and while they are pretty durable when compared to other parts of a car, they are susceptible to wear and tear as they go. Of course, physical damage can cause immediate failure, and the pace at which they wear or get damaged can be heightened if the springs are heavily rusted or corroded. However, as with most mechanical elements of a car, sooner or later they will begin to diminish in their usage, and with coil springs, they do begin to sag and lose some of their spring. 

Have you recently suffered major suspension issue that’s causing you undue stress and draining your pockets? Why not get rid of the car altogether and replace it with a nice pile of cash in your bank account? With Scrap Car Comparison you’re guaranteed to get only the very best price for your car, and we’ll even come and collect it direct from your door thanks to our nationwide network of scrap and salvage specialists.

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