Holden HSV MRC Suspension Issues Explained(+TopMost Issues)

In this brief article we are going to discuss the common suspension issues that occur in Holden HSV MRC (Magnetic Ride Control) and what causes these failures.

The TopMost Common problems with Holden HSV Suspension are:

  • MRC Ride Modes Not working
  • MRC Shock Absorber Leakage

Holden HSV

The HSV is short for Holden Special Vehicles, similar to the SVT Badge on select Ford Performance models. HSV was the Officially designated Performance Vehicles Division of Holden, formed in 1987 and dissolved in 2021 following Holden’s exit from Australia.

HSV was a badge that designated the performance version of a regular production car. Eg. the E-Series (designated as VE) platform Commodore based HSV models like the Magnum, GTS, Senator Signature. The last HSV series was based on the Gen-F platform.

Holden HSV Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) Shocks

Magnetic Ride Control Dampers were first launched in 2002 in the Cadillac Seville. The HSV GTS was introduced in 2008. MRC dampers features a damper filled with a sort of mineral oil that has metal infused. 

The Damper has electromagnetic actuators that create a variable magnetic field. When activated, the metal infused oil molecules bond together to form fibrous structures with a consistency, proportional to the intensity of the magnetic field. 

The MRC system ensures instantaneously variable changes in damping force. As opposed to conventional hydraulic shock absorbers that force fluid through a series of internal valves, the MRC shock absorbers simply vary the amount of charge to the fluid inside the strut and vary its viscosity. 

The Holden HSV Front suspension is a MacPherson Strut with Lower control Arm and a Strut Bar attached to the control arm instead of the conventional A-arm with Anti-roll bar. This arrangement is mounted onto the front subframe.

The Holden HSV’s Rear Suspension is a 3 – Link set up, namely 1 Upper Control Arm, 1 Lower Control Arms and a Trailing Arm, all assisted by Coil Springs, Dampers and Anti Roll Bar.

MRC Ride Modes not working properly: Shock Absorber Failure

Symptoms:

  • When Magnetic Ride control (MRC) is turned ‘ON’, suspension feels locked
  • When MRC is turned ‘OFF’ suspension feels too floaty
  • Rattling Noise going over any rough patches
  • Explained as observed on 07 E1 Senator

Troubleshooting Ride Modes not working properly

  • Ideally, the MRC ‘ON’ should improve both ride and handling, as it was meant to do’
  • The symptoms mentioned all point to an issue with the MRC Dampers.
  • It is most likely that the MRC Damper internal solenoids or valves would have worn out. These are non-serviceable and therefore the damper would have to be replaced.
  • If your vehicle has crossed 50K miles, then it could be due for a shock replacement. Due to long-term internal wear, the shock starts becoming ineffective over time.
  • Since the Damper can still Firm up, we can say that Leakage is avery remote possibility
  • But this is assuming that the MRC control system is working fine with no issues

MRC Shock Absorber Leakage

Symptoms of MRC Shock Absorber Leakage:

  • Bouncy and Floaty Ride
  • Noise going over Bumps

Troubleshooting Front Shock Absorber Leakage

  • The Bouncy Ride symptom points to the Shock Absorber as the probable cause.
  • You can check the Damper condition by doing a Bounce Test. In order to perform this test, put all your weight on one of the front corners of the vehicle pushing it downwards. Keep oscillating the corner till you feel that it has reached its maximum height. Once you take your hands off the corner, observe how it settles. If it takes more than 2 oscillations to settle, that means the damper has failed.
  • The probability of Damper Leakage is also high in this case.

Inspect the Shock absorber Tube bottom for Oil stains. The oil will appear dark grey and thick, unlike the oils seen in conventional shock absorbers. An Oil stain is a confirmed signal of a failed shock absorber

  • In the MagnaRide Shock absorber, the Damping fluid, over a length of time, starts to separate the oil and the fine metal particles in it start to form a Sludge. In some extreme cases, the sludge solidifies into a lump
  • The noises coming from the rear are partly due to the failed shock absorber allowing the bump stops to contact more often. And also the noises partly come from the worn out shock mounting bushes that allow the shock to move and hit against the mounting brackets.

Pro Tip

  • When tightening the Shock bottom bolt, make sure that the vehicle is at its normal ride height.
  • If this bush is tightened at any other ride height, the Bush  always rests in a twisted condition at normal ride height and will result in a reduced Bush service life.

Front Strut Top Mount Bearing Failure

Symptoms of Top Strut Mount Failure:

  • Knocking Noise while going over Rough Road Patches
  • Bumping/Knocking Noises when trying the lock steering in parking

Troubleshooting Front Strut Top Mount Bearing Failure

  • The Top Strut Mount contains a Bushing as well as a bearing that allows the strut to rotate while steering
  • Generally, when the Top Strut mount is damaged, both the bushing as well as the bearing fail and restricts the strut from rotation during steering. 
  • The bearing failure causes the knock and creak noises while locking the steering.
  • The Bushing failure causes the Knocking and Popping noises driving over a rough patch.
  • The Strut top chassis attachment is in the form of a large Rubber washer held by a retainer washer and Nut.
  • The Strut Top Mount is assembled with the Front Shock Absorber Strut. So for removing this, you would need to disassemble the Front Strut.

Pro Tip

  • In the interest of safety, Always use a safe method to compress and Decompress the Spring while dismantling the front strut assembly.
  • It is preferred to use a Hydraulic or Pneumatic Strut removal fixture
  • If that isn’t available, then use a Lead-Screw Type of Spring Compressor

Conclusion

In this brief article we have discussed the common suspension issues that occur in Holden HSV MRC (Magnetic Ride Control) and what causes these failures.

For any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch with us.

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