(Updated on November 17, 2022)
In this article, we are going to go over the suspension system in the car. After reading, you will understand the purpose of a suspension system, the main parts of a suspension, and how the suspension system all works together.
What Does a Car Suspension Do?
A car suspension system is responsible for allowing the vehicle to drive straight and smoothly on the road without any jerkiness or discomfort. There are several components of a suspension system which make this possible, such as the shock absorbers, springs, wheels, struts, and tires.
If you didn’t have a suspension system in your vehicle, then the driving experience would be absolutely miserable.
We all depend on our suspension system to provide stability in the vehicle, especially when driving over rough terrains. The suspension system gives our tires traction on the road so that the vehicle doesn’t swerve or pull to the right or left when it should be driving straight. This is important when driving over potholes, debris, and other unforeseen obstacles on the road.
Whenever your vehicle hits something bumpy, your tires and wheels are the first to receive that energy. If it is a minor bump, then your tires and wheels may be able to absorb most or all this energy. But if the bump is much bigger and more severe, then a majority of the energy gets sent to the inner frame of your vehicle.
The suspension system protects the frame by absorbing this energy instead. This is the frame which supports the passenger cabin where the driver and passengers sit.
If there was no suspension system, this energy would cause everyone in the cabin to bounce around. It would be like getting hit in a go-kart. This is often why you’ll know if you have a faulty suspension component because the symptoms will be more than obvious as you’re driving.
See Also: What is Camber? What is Caster?
How a Car Suspension System Works
The chassis of your vehicle consists of wheels, tires, a suspension system, and a steering system. The suspension system consists of anti-sway bars, springs, and dampeners.
The springs are the most important components of the suspension system. They basically support all the weight of the vehicle, including the weight that the passengers and driver add to it. The springs also keep the frame high enough above ground to make the ride smooth for the passengers.
Most vehicles contain heavy-duty steel coil springs which absorb the energy from the impact on tough terrain. However, other types of springs which exist include a leaf spring, torsion bar, air spring, and hydraulic spring. They basically serve the same purpose, but they’re made to accommodate vehicles of different sizes and classes.
All springs will extend out and then compress down very quickly. This motion is managed by a component called a dampener. Your average vehicle will have either struts or shocks to serve as its dampener.
Shocks, which are also known as shock absorbers, do exactly what the name indicates. As the springs are in motion, the shocks manage and absorb the energy produced from all the extending and compressing. That way, the tires remain on the ground without inadvertently going anywhere.
Struts are basically when the shocks and springs are combined together into one assembly. Some auto manufacturers find this to be a more affordable option for them to use.
Finally, the sway bar is what keeps both sides of the vehicle stabilized while it’s in motion. The bar keeps both sides of the suspension tied together to achieve this. Bushings and mounts are used to connect the sway bar to the frame.
The ends of the sway bar are attached to a control arm, which allows you to turn the vehicle with less of a body roll.
Read Also: What is a Double Wishbone Suspension?
Modern Suspension Systems
Vehicles made in the last 20 years will likely have an active suspension. This is a type of suspension which is assisted by computers and sensors that are built into the vehicle.
This can come in handy because the dampening effect will automatically be adjusted according to the speed you’re traveling. For this reason, riding in a modern vehicle should be smoother and more comfortable than ever before.