Apart from the chassis and body experts, the inner workings of the suspension system of a vehicle remains mainly a mystery to most car enthusiasts, and maybe for a good reason: suspension is a term that refers to a very complex system of linkages, shock absorbers, springs, tire air and tires that connect a car with its wheels, which allows for relative motions in between these two.
Suspension systems have the job of supporting both the ride quality and road-handling/holding – which are frequently at odds with each other – so tuning suspension involved automakers being able to strike the right compromise, which isn’t an easy task. It is also important for the suspension to ensure that the wheel is kept in contact with the surface of the road as much as possible since the ground or road forces bear down on the car do it via contacting patches that are on the tires.
Early on, the common suspension system was done by ox-drawn carts that had platforms swinging on iron chains that attached to the carriage’s wheeled frame. This specific system continued to be the basis of suspension systems up until the early 19th century, although by the 17th-century leather straps replaced the iron chains. Although relatively unknown, automobiles were first designed as self-propelled variations of horse-drawn vehicles. Since horse-drawn vehicles were designed to be used at fairly slow speeds, it meant that their suspensions were not especially well-suited for the high speeds that the internal combustion engine allowed for.
It was only due to industrialization that made it possible for the initial workable spring-suspension to be realized. Obadiah Elliott has been credited with being the first to register a spring-suspension vehicle patent – with each wheel having durable steel leaf durable springs on either side, with the carriage body being directly fixed to the springs that were attached to the vehicle’s axles. Today, all four of the wheels on most cars have independent suspension.
What Purpose Does The Suspension System Serve?
Simply put, the purpose of the car’s suspension is providing comfort and safety, but it goes beyond that; these systems make a vehicle safe due to the suspension determining how a vehicle behaves in terms of its road-holding (grip) and handling. All suspension systems have been designed to maximize the most of the tires that are fitted to the car.
A tire will provide more grip the greater the force there is to push it onto the road. That is part of the suspension’s task to apply this force as the vehicle starts to turn around the bend. Also, the suspension is tasked with absorbing the road’s imperfections; without it, all potholes and bumps would be directly transferred to the vehicle and its passengers (although, admittedly, there are some systems that perform better than others do).
How Do Suspension Systems Actually Work?
A car’s suspension system has to maximize the friction in between the surface of the road and the tires to provide positive handling and steering stability – and all while keeping passengers comfortable. Although this is definitely not an easy task, the suspension of a car, along with its components provide cornering solutions, road holding and road isolation by:
– Absorbing the energy from bumps in the road and dissipating it without undue oscillation being caused in the car.
– Minimizing transfer of the car’s weight from front to back and side to side, because the transfer of weight lessens the grip of the tires on the road.
– Transfers the vehicle’s weight when cornering from the car’s high side to its low side.
What Makes Up A Suspension System?
The suspension of a vehicle is part of the chassis, and that is comprised of all of the critical systems located underneath the body, which include:
– Frame: The Load-carrying, structural component that supports the car’s body and engine, which the suspension supports.
– Suspension System: This setup helps with maintaining tire contact, absorbs and dampens shock, and supports the weight.
– Steering System: The mechanism that allows the driver to direct and guide the car.
– Wheels and Tires: Component that make it possible for the vehicle to be in motion by way of friction and/or grips with the road.
Basically, the suspension is only one of any vehicle’s major systems.
With that in mind, the following are three fundament components that are part of any type of suspension setup:
– Springs: The springing systems of today are based on one of the four following basic designs: air, torsion bars, leaf, and coil.
– Shock Absorbers (Dampers): Unless there is a dampening structure is implemented, the spring on a car will release and extend the energy it absorbs from bumps at an uncontrollable rate, as the spring continues bouncing at its own natural frequency until all the energy that was put to use initially is used up. Unwanted spring motion is controlled by the shock absorber via a process called dampening, that slows down and reduces the vibratory motion’s magnitude by transforming the suspension movement’s kinetic energy into heat energy.
– Anti-Sway Bars/Struts: Basically a strut is a shock absorber that is mounted inside of a coil spring. An anti-sway bar is used in addition to struts or shock absorbers to provide additional stability to a moving vehicle.
What is the Best Type of Suspension System?
Suspension parts that are poorly-made can cause a lot of wear and tear on the vehicle frame, brake parts, steering parts, and tires. To ensure that the suspension performs at its peak standards, you should only consider the ones that are made by highly-rated suspension parts manufacturers. They include Rancho and Bilstein.
What are the Leading Performance Suspensions?
Major handling and suspension product brands can be found in brick-and-mortar traditional stores and online, which allows consumers to choose the best options for their charge and to change handling and suspension components. Soe of the leading lift kits and suspensions come from brands such as Continental, AC Delco, Hotchkis, KW, HKS, Air Lift, KYB, H&R, GReddy, Moog Suspension, TEIN, Ohlins, Eibach, and Bilstein.