Getting The Right U Bolts For Your Vehicles Suspension
U bolts are becoming less common as suspensions systems on cars are transitioning to springs and struts to dampen the bumps on the road. Older cars and trucks, especially heavy-duty ones, still use leaf spring packs and U bolts on the rear suspension and maybe more prone to a broken U bolt or leaf spring that needs replacing.
Understanding U Bolts
Leaf spring suspension systems use U bolts that wrap around the axle housing to hold the springs and housing together securely. If the bolt breaks, the axle housing can pull away from the axle and cause a catastrophic failure under the vehicle. U bolts are made from hardened steel, so they do not often fail, but damage can alter the strength of the material in some cases.
Replacing the U bolts is not something that needs to be done regularly, but if you have one that is cracked or damaged in some way, it should be replaced. Getting the right U bolt for your vehicle is essential, so check with the dealer or a parts supplier if you are not sure what to buy.
U Bolt Sizes
When you need a new U bolt, it is crucial that it fits properly. The length of the bolt from the bottom of the U to the end of the legs on the bolt is essential. If the U bolt is too short, it may fit around the axle but not be long enough to reach the top of the spring pack and the plate that secures the U bolt in place.
The width of the U bolt is important as well. The width should be measured from the center of the leg or part where the nut threads on, to the center of the opposite leg. If you measure the old U bolt's width, make sure that the legs are parallel and not stretched out.
If the width of the U bolt is wrong, it will not fit through the holes in the plate that secures it. The U bolt is not going to bend to fit in place because the heat-treating process hardens the steel, and heating it to try and bend it will damage the heat treating and weaken the U bolt. If the U bolt does not fit, getting one that will is better than trying to work with the wrong one.
Custom U Bolts
Some companies make custom U bolts if you need them, but they can be pricey. Typically companies that make springs also make U bolts, so if you need something specific, check with the spring supplier in your area to see if they can help.
For more information about U bolts, contact a company like Gitt's Spring Company.