What Is Suspension In a Car and How Does It Work?

What is Suspension In a Car?

Suspension is the system of tires, tire air, springs, shock absorbers, and linkages that connects a vehicle to its wheels and allow relative movement between the two. Suspension systems must support both road holding/handling and ride quality, which is at odds with each other.

Tuning of suspensions is all about finding the right compromise. It is important that the suspension keeps the road wheel in contact with the road surface as much as possible, as any road or ground forces acting on the vehicle will do so through the contact patches of the tires.

The suspension also protects the vehicle itself and any cargo or luggage from damage and wear and tear. The design of the front and rear suspension of a car can be different.

Put simply, it’s a part of a car that negates most of the forces the car receives from driving on the road and keeps the cabin quiet. It can be small rocks on the road or big potholes, the suspension can handle them.

This is a normal understanding we have that a suspension’s job is only to provide a cushion when a bump or crack occurs in the road. It does a lot more than that. Honestly, it makes a car easier to drive. What are the other things suspension does?

Car Suspension

What Does a Car Suspension Do?

In short, your car’s suspension system is a protective lattice of shock-absorbing components such as springs and dampers. Your car’s suspension helps ensure you drive safely and smoothly by absorbing the energy of various road bumps and other kinetic shocks. In addition, it helps your tires stay in contact with the road by increasing tire friction.

To fully understand what your suspension does, you need to understand what would happen if your car didn’t have it.

When driving on the road, your car’s tires naturally roll over various imperfections and bumps. These bumps interact with your car’s wheels, applying force each time. The laws of physics dictate that any force exerted on an object has magnitude and direction.

Hitting a bump in the road, it forces your wheel to move up and down at a perpendicular angle (vertical relative to the road surface). Of course, small bumps don’t transfer much vertical kinetic energy to your car. But major road bumps or surface imperfections can transfer quite a bit of energy.

It’s common sense; When your car’s wheels hit a bump, your car gains energy and jerks up or down.

If you didn’t have suspension, all that energy would be transferred into your car’s frame. This type of energy transfer can make driving uncomfortable at best. Additionally, your car could lose grip on the road, which would cause the wheels to bounce and then slam back onto the road surface.

Your car’s suspension:

  • Absorbs the energy transferred through your car’s wheels
  • Helps your car cabin to ride atop the suspension relatively smoothly, even when riding on imperfect roads

The two core components mentioned above both play a crucial role in this process. The shock absorbers or dampers absorb the impulses, with the kinetic energy traveling along with the dampers instead of transferring it (at least to the same extent) to the interior of your car.

Meanwhile, the springs attached to your suspension flex and stretch to control the dissipation of this kinetic energy. They also prevent your car’s suspension from bouncing up and down too much.

Together, these two components make your car feel relatively smooth and consistent when driving.

Why is your car suspension so important?

Any modern car is equipped with a suspension due to its advantages. For example:

  • Suspension systems maximize the friction between your car’s tires and the road. By maximizing friction, you can steer your vehicle more stably and experience more comfortable handling. The more contact your tires have with the road, the safer and more confident you can drive.
  • Your car’s suspension system also provides additional comfort. By limiting the kinetic energy transferred to your cabin from road imperfections such as bumps, you will experience much less bobbing and your passengers will also enjoy a smoother ride.
  • In addition, suspension systems can help increase the life and durability of your car. Your vehicle’s components are subjected to much less stress over time by limiting how much energy is transferred from bumps and potholes in the road. Therefore, the other components of your car will last longer.

How does a car suspension work?

A suspension works on the principle of force dissipation which involves converting force into heat thus removing the impact that force would have made. It uses springs, dampers, and struts to achieve this. A spring will hold the energy while a damper will convert it into heat.

The job of a car suspension is to maximize the friction between the tires and the road surface, to provide steering stability with good handling, and ensure the comfort of the passengers.

If a road were perfectly flat, with no irregularities, suspensions wouldn’t be necessary. But roads are far from flat. Even freshly paved highways have subtle imperfections that can interact with the wheels­ of a car.

It’s these imperfections that apply forces to the wheels. According to Newton’s laws of motion, all forces have both magnitude and direction. A bump in the road causes the wheel to move up and down perpendicular to the road surface.

The magnitude, of course, depends on whether the wheel is striking a giant bump or a tiny speck. Either way, the car wheel experiences a vertical acceleration as it passes over an imperfection.

Without an intervening structure, all of the wheel’s vertical energy is transferred to the frame, which moves in the same direction. In such a situation, the wheels can lose contact with the road completely. Then, under the downward force of gravity, the wheels can slam back into the road surface.

What you need is a system that will absorb the energy of the vertically accelerated wheel, allowing the frame and body to ride undisturbed while the wheels follow bumps in the road.

The study of the forces at work on a moving car is called vehicle dynamics, and you need to understand some of these concepts in order to appreciate why a suspension is necessary in the first place.

What are the parts of car Suspension?

The suspension system on your vehicle consists of the following parts:

  • These are the only part of the suspension system that touches the ground.
  • Coil springs. These are the part that absorbs the impact when a vehicle hits a bump in the road.
  • Shock absorbers. Sometimes called the shocks or dampers, this part supports the coil spring to further reduce the impact of a bump or pothole.
  • Rods/linkages. These parts work together to link different parts of the suspension system together.
  • Joints/bearings/bushings. These parts allow certain components of the suspension system to make sliding actions.

Some vehicles do not have shock absorbers. Instead, these vehicles come with struts. A strut is similar to a shock absorber, as it provides support for the suspension as well as the coil springs.

MORE: What is Strut on a Car?

The steering system is also important as it works with the entire suspension system to make the car turn. The entire suspension system sits on top of the vehicle’s frame, which carries the weight of the vehicle.

Types of Car Suspensions

There are 8 Types of Car Suspensions as mentioned below:

  • Multi-Link Suspension
  • Rigid Axle Suspension
  • Macpherson Suspension
  • Double Wishbone Suspension
  • Independent Suspension
  • Rigid suspension
  • Trailing Arm Suspension
  • Air Suspension

Multi-Link is a suspension developed by Double Wishbone and Multi-Link into a suspension that has a fairly complicated construction design because it has separate parts that are held together by joints.

This suspension also has component ends that pivot on two sides of the arm. Construction is made by manipulating the direction of the force that will be received by the wheel.

Multi-Link is a type of suspension that has a quality grip and with this suspension, controlling the car becomes easier. The Multi-Link suspension also has many variations.

If this suspension is damaged, then the replacement process takes a long time and the spare parts are still rare, so the price is relatively more expensive than other suspensions.

2. Rigid Axle Suspension

Rigid Axle suspension is usually placed at the rear of the car. The main feature of this suspension is its wheels on the rear left and right. The two wheels are connected into one axle which is commonly referred to as the axle.

The rigid axle suspension has 2 models at once, namely the Axle Rigid model which is equipped with leaf springs, and the Axle Rigid model which is equipped with a coil spring or often referred to as a spring.

This suspension has fairly good quality and can be applied in various types of cars. It is fairly simple because it can work with just one solid piece and is equipped with 2 springs.

The axle rigid is also considered a strong suspension, so it can support large loads stably, making it suitable for various types of large cars.

Suspension can help dampen the vibrations or shocks that occur when you are on a road that is uneven or tends to be bumpy. With a good-quality suspension car, you can stay seated without any disruption.

The suspension is not only useful to help reduce vibrations when the car is driving but can make handling safer and let the car can run stably on the road.

With its very significant use, of course, the suspension is a must-have component in a car and it must get extra care.

Now, there are many types of cars around the world and this makes a variety of suspension types available. Even the use of suspensions in each car brand is always different, due to a large number of quality suspensions.

Differentiating the type of suspension in each car brand is certainly a way to balance the type of car. At least several types of suspension are widely popular and used in cars produced nowadays.

3. Macpherson Suspension

Macpherson is a suspension whose name is taken from its inventor, Earle Macpherson. Lots of cars around the world use Macpherson suspension.

Many automotive manufacturers like this suspension, because it has an affordable price and also has fairly simple components.

The Macpherson suspension has an upright shape and is supported by shock absorbers which are used as the center point of the corner caster in the car. This suspension is also very easy to obtain because it’s distributed widely.

The disadvantage of Macpherson’s suspension is that it is less able to receive loads and the tilt angle always changes when the car is turned or turns, this makes the tires less able to grip the road asphalt properly.

4. Double Wishbone Suspension

Double Wishbone is a type of suspension that has 2 arms that support the suspension system, namely the upper and lower arms. With this suspension, the car can run stably.

5. Independent suspension

Independent suspension is a specially designed suspension because the right and left wheels at the rear are not connected directly but instead by axle joints

If the rear wheel steps on a hole, of course, the car will not rock and this is because only the left suspension moves. Independent suspension is indeed widely used in luxury cars.

The independent suspension has a more complex construction and the axle movements are mutually independent. This suspension is also equipped with two flexible joints. This type of suspension is still fairly expensive, so its use is mostly in luxurious cars.

6. Rigid Suspension – Leaf Spring

Rigid – Leafspring is one type of suspension that is widely applied in cars circulating in Indonesia and is mostly used in commercial-type cars or old-type cars. This suspension is usually used at the rear of the car because this suspension is stiff.

This suspension has a fairly simple and simple construction. This type of suspension usually consists of an Axle Housing that is intentionally tied using a U-Bolt already attached to the frame. Cars that use this suspension usually have a fairly high level of resistance.

7. Trailing Arm Suspension

Trailing Arm is a type of suspension whose instructions are almost the same as 3 Links – Rigid, even though the working system is very different. The way it works is also different from the 3 Links – Rigid or other types of suspension.

The Trailing Arm suspension has connected from the right side to the left. This type of suspension is usually placed at the back of the car.

8. Air Suspension

Air Suspension is one of the developed suspensions that has excellent performance, so this type of suspension is widely used in luxury cars.

Even in luxury cars, the car’s suspension can be adjusted using a computer and this allows the adjustment to be done properly.

The drawback of this suspension is that it has a very complicated construction when compared to other types of suspension. Not only that, but this suspension also has a very expensive price.

Car Suspension Warning Signs

Your car communicates when it needs attention. Some common signs that your suspension system needs a little TLC are:

  • Continued bouncing after hitting bumps or a dipping when braking.
  • A drifting or pulling to one side when turning corners.
  • One side of the parked car sitting lower than the other side.
  • Difficult steering.
  • Unusually bumpy rides.

Bouncing and “nose-diving” likely indicates worn shocks. Pulling to one side could be as simple as a soft tire or the need for a wheel alignment or it could signify that some of the suspension components are wearing out.

If your car looks uneven when on level ground with one side dipping, it could mean something in the suspension system has been damaged. Steering difficulties and rougher than normal rides are indicators of system issues.

Most car owner manuals suggest the average life of struts and other suspension system parts is around 70,000 miles depending on the driver and the roads.

FAQs.

What is a car suspension?

The suspension is the system of tires, tire air, springs, shock absorbers, and linkages that connects a vehicle to its wheels and allow relative motion between the two. Suspension systems must support both road holding/handling and ride quality, which is at odds with each other.

What Is Suspension In a Car?

The suspension system on a vehicle is between the frame and the road. The suspension system’s primary function is to maximize the overall performance of a vehicle as it cruises down the road. The suspension system also helps to absorb bumps in the road and provides a safe and comfortable ride.

How does a car suspension work?

A suspension works on the principle of force dissipation which involves converting force into heat thus removing the impact that force would have made. It uses springs, dampers, and struts to achieve this. A spring will hold the energy while a damper will convert it into heat.

What are the parts of the Suspension System?

Parts of Suspension:

  • These are the only part of the suspension system that touches the ground.
  • Coil springs. These are the part that absorbs the impact when a vehicle hits a bump in the road.
  • Shock absorbers.
  • Rods/linkages.
  • Joints/bearings/bushings.

What does suspension do in a car?

The suspension system on a vehicle is between the frame and the road. The suspension system’s primary function is to maximize the overall performance of a vehicle as it cruises down the road. The suspension system also helps to absorb bumps in the road and provides a safe and comfortable ride.

How much does it cost to replace suspension on a car?

Replacing a suspension system typically costs between $1,000 to $5,000, but the price can vary depending on the type of vehicle, price of replacement parts, and the complexity of the replacement.

How do you know if your suspension is damaged?

An easy check is the bounce test. Simply push your entire weight down on your car’s bonnet. Release and count the number of times the car bounces. If it bounces more than three times, then there is a problem with your shock absorbers or struts.

What does it mean when a car has suspension problems?

Suspension Warning Signs. Some common signs that your suspension system needs a little TLC are: Continued bouncing after hitting bumps or dipping when braking. A drifting or pulling to one side when turning corners. One side of the parked car sitting lower than the other side.

What are the three types of suspension?

There are three basic types of suspension components: linkages, springs, and shock absorbers.

Why do we need suspension?

Your car’s suspension system is responsible for smoothing out the ride and keeping the car in control. Specifically, the suspension system maximizes the friction between the tires and the road to provide steering stability and good handling.

Can suspension affect steering?

If your car becomes hard to steer, especially at low speed, something might be wrong with the suspension. Because your steering is linked to the suspension and the two rely on each other to get their respective jobs done, it’s important to pay attention to the steering – it’s the way you control your car.

How long does it take to fix a suspension?

Car suspensions consist of numerous parts. While it can take several hours to a full day to repair, you should expect to spend anywhere between $1,000 to $5,000 on the job.

How long should suspension last?

Under both normal and adverse conditions, just about any suspension part can be damaged and wear out, but most should last 50,000 to 80,000 miles before repairs are required, says Doug Taylor, product marketing manager for Arnott Inc.

How do I know if I need to replace my suspension?

Signs of a Worn Suspension

  • Clunking Noises When Hitting a Bump.
  • Bumpy Ride.
  • Hovering Front End.
  • Irregular Tire Wear.
  • Noticeable Vibrations While Driving.
  • Erratic Braking.
  • Fluid Leakage.
  • Irregular Tire Wear.

What happens if you don’t fix your suspension?

It is not recommended. A damaged or collapsed spring can cause sagging and noise and affect alignment angles. While you can still drive, the ride will be rough and the car will be difficult to control in an emergency. Plus, bumps could damage other parts of the car.

What can a bad suspension cause?

With a failing suspension system, you’ll often feel the vehicle “drift” or “pull” when you’re turning. This basically means the shocks are no longer keeping the vehicle body stable against the centrifugal force of a turn, increasing your risk of a rollover.

What type of suspension is best?

Multi-link and dual wishbone systems are the holy grail of suspension designs, allowing engineers to achieve agile handling without compromising ride quality.

What are the 5 types of suspension?

To avoid various damage to the car, you can do spooring regularly.

  • Multi-Link Suspension.
  • Rigid Axle Suspension.
  • Macpherson Suspension.
  • Double Wishbone Suspension.
  • Independent Suspension.
  • Rigid suspension – Leaf Spring.
  • Trailing Arm Suspension.
  • Air Suspension.

Which type of suspension is used in cars?

The majority of land vehicles are suspended by steel springs of these types: Leaf spring – AKA Hotchkiss, Cart, or semi-elliptical spring. Torsion bar suspension. Coil spring.

How do you maintain car suspension?

If you’re interested in making everything last as long as possible, you’ll want to do the following:

  • Check your tires’ air.
  • Check your tires’ tread.
  • Get your wheels aligned.
  • Check the power steering fluid and belt.
  • Inspect the bushings and joints.
  • Inspect the shocks.
  • Have everything inspected if you’re in an accident.

What are the 4 types of suspension system?

Get to know these four spring classes: leaf springs, coil springs, torsion bars, and air springs.

Is suspension necessary for a car?

Why is the Suspension System Important? Your car’s suspension system is important as it helps provide easier handling, keeping you safe and in control of your vehicle, as well as comfort. For instance, your shock absorbers keep you from feeling all the bumps and bouncing that comes from driving on the road.

Why does my car jerk when I hit a bump?

Bottom out – when your car doesn’t have enough suspension to absorb the bump it is driving over and the tires hit the bottom of your car when the suspension is compressed. Bouncing over bumps – when your car bounces repeatedly after driving over a bump in the road.

Why does my car move when I hit a bump?

Since your vehicle moves all over the road after a bump, this indicates that your tires are indeed not staying firmly planted and are bouncing uncontrollably. This continual bouncing of the suspension will prematurely wear out other front-end components and cause the tires to wear unevenly.

Why does my car feel so bumpy?

A bumpy ride can be caused by a tire that has insufficient air, improperly aligned wheels; or even by tires that have rocks or debris stuck in them.

How does your suspension break?

It’s just the natural process that occurs when water meets air. You drive through puddles and during inclement, wet weather, and this water doesn’t dry right away. Over time, the suspension springs will rust and break because the rust will eat through the suspension spring steel.

How is suspension noise diagnosed?

With the vehicle sitting on the ground or on ramps, wiggle the wheels left-right, up-down, and diagonally. If you feel any looseness or hear abnormal noises, feel with your hands for the loose component. Wiggle the steering wheel left and right while feeling around ball joints and tie rod ends.

How much does it cost to replace a rear suspension?

Typical costs: Replacing a suspension system can cost $1,000-$5,000 or more, depending on the type of system and the make, model, and year of the vehicle (luxury vehicles typically cost more than standard automobiles).

How often do you replace shocks?

Like all other automobile parts and systems, shocks and struts have a specific maintenance schedule. Auto repair experts say that generally they should be replaced between every 50,000 to 100,000 miles, depending on how much wear and tear they have received.

How much do shocks cost?

The average total cost to replace a pair of shocks will run about $250 to $580. An individual shock absorber will cost around $50 to $140 so parts alone will set you back between $100 and $280. A couple of hours of labor to do the job is an additional $150 to $300.

What happens when air suspension fails?

When air suspension fails, you’ll know it. The most likely first symptoms are a lower, sagging ride height, or the selectable ride settings that no longer function. Other symptoms include a rougher, noisier ride, and sloppy handling through corners and over bumps.