What does a car suspension do?
Your vehicle’s suspension system is responsible for control and ride quality. In layman’s terms, a suspension optimizes the friction between the tires and the road surface. It ensures optimal steering characteristics, improved handling and comfort for your passengers. Many drivers would agree that these are the main reasons of getting in a car in the first place – to safely get where they are going to while enjoying a comfortable and smooth ride!
What your vehicle suspension system does is:
- Absorbs energy from road bumps and effectively dissipates it to remove road shock from the passenger compartment;
- Maintains optimum tire contact and with the road, increasing friction and overall tire grip;
- Minimizes body roll by transferring the weight of the vehicle during cornering from the high side of the vehicle to the lower side.
What are the parts of a suspension system?
The basic building blocks of a car suspension system are springs (coil springs, air springs, leaf springs or torsion bars) and dampers (shock absorbers, struts and anti-sway bars). The other important parts of a suspension system are bushings, arms and joints, mountings, spheres, subframes, axle carriers, etc.
Each and every part of a suspension system is important, but some are more important than the others as they do most of the work. These are springs, shocks (dampers) and anti-sway bars – the main performance-defining components in a suspension system.
- Springs control height and load;
- Shocks absorb and damp shock impulses, while keeping your tires in contact with the ground.
What is a good suspension for cars?
When it comes to purchasing the best suspension parts for your specific car, it is important to read your manufacturer’s guide so as to know which suspension set up is right for your vehicle. The majority of suspension and handling brands on the market offer complete suspension systems packed with every single part you’ll need to replace and upgrade your vehicle’s suspension.
Types of suspension systems
- MacPherson Strut. The MacPherson strut is a very common type of automotive suspension system – impressively effective, inexpensive and simple in its essence. The term ‘MacPherson strut’ refers to both a type of strut and the suspension system utilizing it. The strut combines a shock absorber and a coil spring into a single strut optimized for front-wheel drive vehicles. This type of suspension system has either a steering knuckle or a carrier with two mounting points attached to the body of the vehicle.
- Double Wishbone System. The other popular suspension system on the road is the double wishbone system. More often used at the rear end of cars, the wishbone is also known as an A-arm suspension. It utilizes two wishbone-shaped arms allowing for two mounting positions at the frame and at the wheel. The main benefit of a double-wishbone system is the increase in negative camber that ensures more stability and easier handling as the tires maintain better contact with the road. The drawback is that due to the complexity of the wishbone and its many individual parts, the chances of failure of a single component are bigger. Failure of a single component often means having to replace the entire wishbone system.
- Multi-Link Suspension. Multi-link suspensions are a type of independent suspensions which use three or more lateral arms as well as one longitudinal arm. The arms can be angled away from their natural direction allowing for optimal adjustment of ride quality and handling. These systems use three or more lateral arms, and one or more longitudinal arms which can be angled in any direction allowing for better compromise between ride and handling. Hence multi-link suspensions are often found on performance vehicles where they are used on both the front and the rear. So, the advantages of multi-link suspension setups are the better balance between handling, space efficiency and comfort, while the disadvantage is mainly the high cost.
- Anti-Roll Bars. Anti-roll bars are also known as anti-sway bars and stabilizer bars. They are designed to prevent body roll when you make sharp turns or clear road irregularities. Anti-roll bars connect the opposite left/right wheels together using short lever arms, which are linked by a torsion spring. This particular design delivers optimum roll stiffness that effectively counters roll in sharp turns. The bars reduce sideways tilting by lowering or rising to similar heights as you move through sharp corners or bumps. When the sharp turn is over, the anti-roll bars reduce the downward force so that the paired wheels are allowed to restore their normal height level.
What are the types of shock absorbers?
- Telescopic. The most common type of shock absorbers used on both front and rear suspension systems.
- Strut type shock absorbers. Designed to replace part of your suspension system for handling greater loads and rugged conditions.
- Spring seat shocks. Combine the characteristics of telescopic and strut type shock absorbers in a single unit fusing suspension and damping functionality.
What are torsion bars?
Torsion bars are metal rods that are attached at one end to the body of your vehicle and at the other end to the suspension lower link. They are designed to absorb energy by twisting as the wheel passes over road bumps and irregularities. Right after the bump, the bars return to their original position and restore your vehicle to its normal drive height. The entire process of twisting and applying resistance forces resembles the way springs function in popular suspension systems.
Torsion bars are used on front-end suspensions because of their easy adjustability. They are designed to cover almost all types of cars, trucks, and SUVs on the road. Example of torsion bars can be found here: Hotchkis Torsion Bars.
Torsion bars leveling kits designed to add room for oversized wheel and tire packages designed for heavy duty towing. Dedicated torsion bar leveling kits come with a set of torsion keys that will help you to level the front of your truck with the rear. If you are looking for the absolute best in strength, forged torsion keys are the better option over cast torsion keys. An example: Daystar Torsion Bar Key Leveling Kit