The car is a 2001 Ford Focus with 71,700 miles.Yesterday I went to my regular local independent repair shop for oil change and tire rotation. Upon completion and after I had driven about 10 feet in the driveway of the shop I heard a loud thumb from the front with each tire revolution, same thing when I backed it up. The shop put it back on the lift and identified the problem as a broken spring at the right front tire. I examined both springs myself while the car was on the lift. The right spring had a bulge within a plastic sleeve on the spring above the lower circular plate upon which it rests, about one complete revolution of the spring above its lower end. The plastic sleeve appeared to be intended to prevent chafing against the bolt holding down the lower end of the spring. The left spring was identical in all respects except for no bulge. The shop identified the thumping noise as being caused by the broken end of the spring slipping beyond the edge of the lower circular plate when the weight of the car was on the spring after leaving the lift and rubbing on the tire.
The lift is entirely above ground with a column on either side . Two arms from each side swing out to support the body of the car, leaving the suspension to hang. The car was initially raised on the lift to change the oil and rotate the tires.
Could the spring have been broken before I arrived at the shop? I certainly did not notice any symptom and the shop didn’t notice any before putting it on the lift. I understand that one can drive for quite a while on a broken spring without noticing any overt symptoms. This being the case, might the spring have been broken for some prior period of time but was prevented from any lateral movement causing rubbing on the tire until the car was raised on the lift, thereby permitting the spring to extend to a position not normally experienced on the road and move in a lateral direction not previously possible?
If the spring was intact when the car went on the lift for the oil change and rotation, is there any means by which it could have broken before it left the shop garage? That is, could placing the car on the lift, raising the lift, lowering the lift and driving the car out of the lift have broken the spring?
Obviously, this all relates to whether any action of the shop could have contributed to the failure of the spring.