What is car suspension? We get asked this question by many car enthusiasts. Although some experienced car lovers know the answer, it is never a bad idea to revise it. Simply put: the car suspension absorbs the shocks and pushes the wheels towards the ground when they lift up after a speed or road bump. This essential part of each vehicle usually consists of tires (and tire air), springs, shock absorbers, and the linkages connecting the car body to the wheels. Without all these car suspension parts, it would be impossible to speak of ride quality or road handling. However, sometimes people tend to overlook the importance of the car suspension system.
But even a Victorian-era carriage has a suspension-like system and we all know the rough ride they offer. Now imagine the same ride but with your car, developing much higher speed than the speed of a pair of horses. Without the modern suspension type, a bone-breaking bumpy ride is guaranteed every time you sit behind the wheel. But that’s not all, since even the overall driving will be extremely dangerous. Imagine what will happen when you take a sharp turn: the inside wheels will lift off the ground, resulting in a side roll.
What are the car suspension types – dependant suspension
There are two main types of suspension: dependant and independent and most modern vehicles are equipped with the latter one. Although you probably don’t strive to be a car suspension specialist, it is always a good idea to know a thing or two about each suspension type. The dependant car suspension system has fewer parts than the alternative. The biggest difference is the axle that connects the right and left wheel. If a road bump pushes your left tire upwards, the right will also move simultaneously. As a rule of thumb – the dependant suspension type is cheaper and more suitable for heavy-duty vehicles that are more affordable than comfortable. Otherwise, both dependant and independent car suspensions share similar parts like springs (leaf or coil) and some kind of shock absorbers.
Car suspension repair – independent suspension
What about the other car suspension types? Unlike the dependant system, the independent suspension means that each wheel gets its own springs and shock absorbers without an axle connecting it to the wheel on the other side. Why is this better? A simple road dent will only affect the wheel that goes over it, but with a dependant type, the connecting axle will move the second wheel as well, even though the road beneath it may be in perfect condition.
Now let’s clarify what are the typical parts in a car suspension system. Springs compress and expand according to the condition of the road, supporting the car’s weight. Shock absorbers are an oil pump that smoothes out the rough work of the coils assuring the comfort of the ride. However, these two suspension parts are not always fitted separately, the spring often goes around the absorber. The design of this pivot is called MacPherson strut, after American engineer Earl S. MacPherson. Further comfort is added thanks to the strut mount. One side of this part is attached to the vehicle body and the other to the strut. In between lays rubber insulation that absorbs the vibrations from the ride.
Additionally, the car suspension system is fitted with an anti-roll bar. Like with the dependant system, this part connects the left and right side of a suspension, but still allows the wheels to react separately to the road. The purpose of the anti-roll bar is to keep the vehicle parallel to the road because when the car is in a turn, the wheels often lose grip on the asphalt due to the changed contact angle with the road.
Don’t go hard on yourself if your car’s suspension suffers some problems. Giving all the pressure that a car’s suspension system undergoes, such issues shouldn’t come as a surprise. Some common signs of a problem in the car’s suspension is an abnormally bumpy ride. A simple test for the condition of your car’s suspension is to press your weight on the bonnet. After removing your weight from the vehicle, the car should bounce no more than 3 times. Otherwise, you have a problem with the shock absorbers and struts. Sometimes suspension issues are mistaken for tire or brake problems. Surely, tires are linked to the suspension system but many times when the car is going to one side while driving, the problem is suspension-based. Check the tire pressure, alignment and brakes. If there are no abnormalities, search no more because the problem should be in the suspension system of your car.
To conclude, suspension problems are a serious issue and should be addressed on time. We hope that this article helped you understand the car suspension system. So next time you speak with a mechanic about required repairs, you feel like you speak the same language.