Vauxhall Zafira Suspension Issues Explained(+3 Tips)

In this brief article we are going to discuss the different Vauxhall Zafira Suspension problems, what the causes are, and Troubleshooting Tips.

Top 5 most common suspension issues in the Vauxhall Zafira 

The most common suspension issues seen in the Vauxhall Zafira are:

  • Front Shock Absorber Strut Failure
  • Rear Shock Absorber Failure
  • Front Strut Top Mount Failure
  • Front Lower Control Arm Bushing Failure
  • Front Wheel Bearing Failure

What suspension does the Vauxhall Zafira have?

The ‘Opel/Vauxhall Zafira’ compact MPV’s first generation, also known as ‘Zafira A’, shares the same platform and mechanical parts as the Opel Astra G. It was first launched in 1999 and produced until 2019. Subsequently, the second generation ‘Zafira B’ shared the same platform and mechanical parts with the Opel Astra H. The Zafira was later renamed to Zafira Tourer in 2011.

The Front suspension in the Vauxhall Zafira is a fairly conventional MacPherson Strut and Lower control Arm with Anti-roll bar. This arrangement is mounted onto the front subframe.

The Zafira Rear Suspension is a Trailing axle Torsion Beam. The axle is designed such that it twists when the rear suspension articulates and offers roll resistance. The need for a rear Anti roll bar is eliminated thus.

Front Shock Absorber Strut Failure

Symptoms:

  • Rattling Noise going over any rough patches
  • Front end bouncier than normal
  • Changes in handling behaviour; Vehicle not feeling stable at high speed cornering

Troubleshooting Front Shock Absorber Failure

  • The Bouncy Ride symptom points to the Shock Absorber as a probable cause.
  • 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.
  • If the front strut shock has started leaking oil due to a failed oil-seal, then it means that the shock will no longer be effective.
  • One good way to tell if your shock has failed or not is to do a “Bounce 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.
  • For the Front strut top mount to be accessible, you need to first remove the Windshield wiper plastic shroud
  • The Retainer Ring that holds the Strut Top mount onto the chassis has to be removed with a special Clip Removal Tool (check your car’s service instructions)

Pro Tip

  • Once the Strut Shock absorber has been dismantled, there is one more way to see the shock condition for yourself by way of a ‘Compression’ test. 
  • You can simply apply force on the top of the shock and compress it. If it can come back up on its own, then the shock is in fairly good condition. But if it takes too long or doesn’t expand on its own, it’s confirmed that the shock absorber has failed.

Rear Shock Absorber Failure

Symptoms:

  • Knocking and Popping Noises from the Rear going over bumps
  • Rear end feels bouncier

Troubleshooting Rear Shock Failure

  • The Bouncy Ride symptom points to the Shock Absorber as a probable cause.
  • 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.
  • If your vehicle has crossed 40-50K miles, then it could be due for a shock replacement. Due to long-term internal wear, the shock starts losing its damping action over time.
  • If the rear shock has started leaking oil due to a failed oil-seal, then it means that the shock will no longer be effective.
  • One good way to tell if your shock has failed or not is to do a “Bounce 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.

Pro Tip

  • While fitting a new shock absorber, always, Tighten the Top mounting bolts first and then the Lower mounting bolt.
  • Also make sure that while tightening the Shock bottom bolt,  the Wheel Hub is supported at its normal ride height. For this you can either use Blocks, a screwjack or a jack stand.
  • If the shock bottom mounting bush is tightened at any other ride height, then when the car is lowered to normal ride height, the Bush will rest in a twisted condition and will have a reduced Bush service life.

Front Strut Top Mount Bearing Failure

Symptoms:

  • 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 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

Front Lower Control Arm Failure

Symptoms:

  • The car seems to be drifting
  • Steering seems vague while Lane Changing
  • Uneven Tire Wear pattern
  • Knocking Noises while going over Rough Patches
  • Seen in Zafira B

Root Cause:

  • Tire Uneven wear issue, mostly says that the alignment of the front suspension is outside of the recommended settings. But this is still a symptom.
  • The cause for alignment change points to the Lower control arm Bushings and Ball-joints that may have got worn or damaged

Troubleshooting Front Lower Control Arm Bushing Failure: Lower Control Arm Bushing

  • Lower Control Arm bushing wears out over time and cracks due to age
  • To assess the bushing condition, you can use a Pry-bar and insert it between the Lower control arm and the Subframe. Now, try to move the Lower Control arm using the Pry-bar and observe the movement at the Bush location. If the lower control arm moves without much force, then it means that the bushes have worn out.
  • When inspecting the Lower control arm after removal, it is clear that there are tears and cracks in the rubber portion.

Troubleshooting Front Lower Control Arm Bushing Failure: Lower Control Arm Ball-Joint

  • The lower control arm ball-joints are also subject to wear and tear.
  • The deterioration is usually initiated as a crack or rupture in the rubber boot around the ball-joint
  • This leads to loss of lubrication and finally to complete wear out
  • The wear out causes play or movement accompanied by knocking noise. The play in the ball-joint is one of the reasons for the vehicle steering feeling vague.
  • You can check for Ball-joint condition by this simple procedure:
    • Get the car on a Ramp
    • Lock the steering wheel
    • Hold the front tire with both your hands and try to steer the wheel
    • If you hear a ‘Knock’ or ‘Click’, then it is very much likely that the noise is due to a play in the Ball-joint

Pro-Tip

  • For Rusted Bolt connections that are hard to Break-open, do not try repeatedly using hand or pneumatic tools.
  • Always first soak it for 10-15 min after spraying a good Rust-penetrant
  • Always maintain the Wheel Hub at normal ride height, without letting it drop. Place a support like a jack stand or Screwjack underneath the Hub. While tightening the control arm bushes, you can avoid excessive twist.

Front Wheel Bearing Failure

Symptoms:

  • Droning noise above 30 mph speeds
  • Sound is louder with increasing speed

Troubleshooting Front Wheel Bearing Failure

  • Droning noise is generally associated with one of the wheel bearings depending on where the noise is coming from
  • Wheel bearings generally have a life of 70K miles, after which, on detecting noise issues, must be replaced
  • In the Vauxhall Zafira, the wheel bearing is housed within the Wheel Hub. The hub is removable without removing the Knuckle
  • The bearing comes as a kit. It is a Hub assembly with a bearing already assembled.

Conclusion

In this brief article we have discussed the different Vauxhall Zafira Suspension problems, what the causes are, and Troubleshooting Tips.

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

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