How Should Leaf Springs Look? Symptoms of Bad Leaf Springs

How should leaf springs look when they’re in good condition? For one thing, they won’t be making your truck sag or rattle at the rear. Find out the symptoms of bad leaf springs and how to tell if the ones on your truck are in bad condition with these tips from our expert mechanic Andy.

How Should Leaf Springs Look?

1A Auto mechanic standing before a leaf spring, shackle, and coil
Coil spring (front), shackle (left), and leaf spring (rear)

General Overview of Leaf Springs

Different vehicles have different suspension systems, and leaf springs are one type. Leaf springs in good condition should look unworn and not have damage like cracking. If the springs or shackles are defective, problems like the rear sagging can happen.

Coil springs are another suspension part of some vehicles. Both of these suspension parts help absorb the impact of bumps in the road for a smoother drive.

Front of a leaf spring attached to the frame
Front of a leaf spring attached to the frame

You’ll mostly find leaf springs in trucks or larger rear-wheel drive vehicles, like some SUVs. The front part attaches to the frame, the center gives the spring space to move up and down under the axle, and the rear part attaches to a shackle.

Components of Leaf Springs

The leaf spring in the video above at 1:14 shows a leaf spring with the front attached to the frame, a clip or bushing to keep two springs contained as they move, and a third spring contained by u-bolts above an axle housing. Then it connects to a shackle at the other end. The shackle may or may not be above the spring depending on the setup. The leaf spring may also have a helper spring placed above it.

How Leaf Springs Should Look on Your Vehicle

Follow these steps to diagnose your own leaf springs. Bad leaf springs will look cracked and worn, and may have missing or damaged components.

Steps to check how a leaf spring should look

  1. Check the Bushings of the Two Springs

    Inspect the rubber bushings of the two springs for wear like cracking that could cause your truck to sag.

  2. Check the Leaf Spring Bumpers

    Inspect the leaf spring bumpers for wear. The bumper may also be missing, which is not a good sign. This can cause rattling or squeaking as you drive over bumps.

  3. Check the Leaf Springs for Cracking

    Inspect the physical condition of the leaf springs. Check the springs for cracking, which may be easy to miss. Cracking can cause sagging on the side of the damage. If the back half of the leaf cracks, that section of the spring could fall out without you knowing.

  4. Check the Shackle for Rotting or Cracking

    A rusted and rotted shackle can cause the leaf spring to tap against the vehicle, like a truck bed.

Symptoms of Bad Leaf Springs

Sagging, Squeaking, or Rattling

You may notice the bed of your truck is sagging, or you hear squeaking or rattling when driving over bumps. Different problems with leaf springs can cause different symptoms, but these three are a sign there may be a defective component of your vehicle’s leaf spring.

How to Replace Your Own Leaf Springs

Learn how to replace your vehicle’s leaf spring yourself. We have thousands of how-to videos to help you fix and maintain different parts on different vehicles regardless of your skillset.

Shop Quality Auto Parts

Learn how leaf springs should look, fix them yourself, and more with quality auto parts and tips at
How Should Leaf Springs Look - Check Bad Leaf Springs - 1A Auto
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How Should Leaf Springs Look - Check Bad Leaf Springs - 1A Auto
If you want to know how leaf springs should look and how to check for bad leaf springs, use these tips from 1A Auto's expert mechanics
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1A Auto
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