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My 2001 Honda Civic has what I can only describe as a "rough ride" in the front wheels. When I put my foot on the brake pedal (not pressing on it), there's a roughness there I can feel. It's less at lower speeds and increases at higher speeds.

I just spent $1400+ today at the Honda dealership. They replaced:

  1. both front struts
  2. front lower control arm compliance bushings
  3. motor mount
  4. both outer sway bar end links

The ride is still the same. So I'm wondering if these repairs should have fixed the ride or if the roughness I feel in the ride and on the brake pedal is due to something else?

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What do you mean by rough? a vibration? a choppiness in how the nose descends under braking? from your last sentence it sounds like you are describing a roughness in the brakes, nothing to do with the suspension. –  Rory Alsop Jul 16 '11 at 19:18
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I can feel the roughness through the pedals, by just putting my foot on them and not pressing. Like the answer suggests maybe it's warped rotors. –  pthesis Jul 17 '11 at 22:21
    
Warped rotors you would feel when braking, not just touching your foot to the pedal, unless they are so far off that they are touching the brake pads without you applying any pressure. –  ManiacZX Jul 18 '11 at 19:00

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Normally strut failure makes it to where they are ineffective in dampening the movement of the vehicle on the springs.

This wouldn't cause a "rough" ride but in fact the opposite making it very soft and wavy. Where you'd hit a bump and the car would bounce multiple times as it settles back down on the springs. The strut reduces that movement allowing the suspension to move to absorb the initial impact without continuing to bounce.

The potential for the strut to cause a rough ride would be if it had seized instead of losing its pressure. If the shock seized to the point where it won't move at all or takes a lot of force to do so, then it would cause it to carry more of the road imperfections to you.

A bad bushing will allow the component to move more. This can have multiple effects depending on how the component fits. It may allow for a metal on metal contact, which can transfer a lot of vibration. On the other hand, it can move around more and not send as much through as it isn't held in place. A new OEM bushing or an aftermarket polyurethane can make you feel the bumps slightly more, but is an acceptable trade off for the improved handling and driver feedback. When you go to turn the vehicle, with bad bushings fractions of seconds are lost making the "turn in" of the car happen later as the components shift in place before they stiffen and then push the car instead of moving themselves.

If the feeling is there all the time and doesn't seem to be directly related to road conditions, there might be a wheel out of balance (circular balance, where the weight around the circumference of the wheel isn't even), a flat spot on a tire (can be caused from a hard braking event or sitting for an extended period of time not in use).

It may also need a front end alignment, especially if they didn't do one after taking apart the control arms for the bushings. If your toe or camber are far enough out, it could be causing a noticeable effect. If you don't hold onto the steering wheel on smooth pavement, does the car track straight or shift to the left or right? That is one sign of misalignment.

If you've used any of that spray fix-a-flat products, I've heard of people having bad vibrations after the use of those as you are spraying material inside of your tire with no way of getting it in there evenly.

Unfortunately many things can be the cause of a "rough" ride.

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This is really detailed, thanks for the information! They did an alignment as well after replacing struts and bushings, so that shouldn't be the issue. –  pthesis Jul 17 '11 at 22:21

when you describe "rough ride" most people associate that with stiffer than normal suspension and uneven road conditions making their way all the way from the wheel to your butt. In other words, any unevenness in the road makes it uncomfortable or difficult to drive. Reading your post, sounds like that's not your problem.

If you have a constant vibration coming from the front-end, another potential cause that wasn't mentioned so far, is the wheel bearings. Next time you are driving, put your foot on the brake pedal like you've been doing and when you feel the vibration, turn the steering wheel slightly left, then slightly right. See if the vibration changes and/or goes away completely when you turn one way or the other. If that's the case, I'd suspect a wheel bearing

I've also had something similar which was caused by one of the steel belts inside the tire breaking causing the tire to not be round, which goes back to a defective tire that was mentioned by ManiacZX. To see if it could be the wheels, try rotating front and back tires.

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