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Suspension System of Your Car

Updated on August 11, 2016

The suspension system in a vehicle is one of the most vital mechanisms of the vehicle today and have become an essential part of all automobiles. What is the history of suspension system? What exactly is the suspension system in cars? What is the system made of?

History

The first suspension to be known is from horse drawn carriages from in the 19th Century. It uses numerous layers of steel and in some cases uses wood as a spring. It’s known as leaf spring.

Obadiah Elliott registered the first patent for a spring-suspension vehicle; each wheel had two durable steel leaf springs on each side and the body of the carriage was fixed directly to the springs attached to the axles.

In 1901 “Mors of Paris” first fitted an automobile with shock absorbers. With the benefit of a damped suspension system on his ‘Mors Machine’, Henri Fournier won the prestigious Paris-to-Berlin race on 20 June 1901. Fournier’s superior time was 11 hrs. 46 min 10 sec, while the best competitor was “Léonce Girardot in a Panhard” with a time of 12 hrs. 15 min 40 sec

In 1922, independent front suspension was pioneered on the Lancia Lambda and became more common in mass market cars from 1932. Today most cars have independent suspension on all four wheels.

As modern cars were design to move at faster need, new type of suspension systems were introduced in the market.

What is Suspension System?

The main role of suspension system is to maintain maximum contact between the tyres and road surface, to provide steering stability and also to provide good handling during low-speed and high-speed corners. The three main function of suspension system is to provide “Better Cornering, Improved Braking & Smooth Ride.

Main components of car suspension system

Springs – There are different kinds of springs used in modern car suspension systems. Their main function is to absorb impact and keep it away from the body of the car and its passengers.

Shock absorbers – Shock absorbers are cylindrical in shape. The springs usually sit inside this cylinder. Shock absorbers help minimize oscillatory movement of the springs on impact since excessive oscillation can make you lose control of the vehicle to some extent.

Anti-sway bars or dampers – These are thick metal bars that help minimize swaying of the vehicle on uneven surfaces. They connect the two parts of the suspension system at the ends of the axle and help keep the vehicle level with the road.


Types of Suspension System

Suspension Types -Dependent


  • Motion of a wheel on one side of the vehicle is dependent on the motion of its partner on the other side
  • Rarely used in modern passenger cars
  • Cannot give good ride
  • Cannot control high braking and accelerating torques
  • Used in commercial and off-highway vehicles
  • Example : Solid Axle

Suspension Types -Independent

  • The motion of wheel pairs is independent, so that a disturbance at one wheel is not directly transmitted to its partner.
  • Better ride and handling
  • Example: Double Wishbone , Mcpherson Strut

Suspension Types – Semi- Independent

  • This type of system has both the features of dependent as well as independent suspension.
  • In semi-independent suspension, the wheel move relative to one another as in independent suspension but the position of one wheel has some effect on the other wheel.
  • Done with the help of twisting suspension parts.
  • Example : Twist Beam

Air Suspension System

  • Powered by an electric or engine driven air pump or compressor.
  • Compressor pumps the air into a flexible bellows, usually made from textile-reinforced rubber. This in turn inflates the bellows, and raises the chassis from the axle.


Basics signs that you need to watch out for when it comes to the suspension health of your car.

  • Excessive swaying or thudding of vehicle on uneven surfaces
  • Squeaking noises every time the suspension moves.
  • Height of the vehicle lowering without any changes made by you.
  • Oil leakages over the shock absorber cylinders.
  • Car moves to the right or left, esp. going over the bumps.
  • Vehicle tires have abnormal wear.

Suspension System Maintenance Tips

  • Lubricate Chassis every time you change your oil, or at least every 10,000 Km
  • Align front end whenever, experiencing abnormal tire wear
  • Inspect ball joins every 20,000 Km
  • Check steering linkage and free play every 20,000 Km
  • Clean and repack front end bearings and replace seal every two years 24,000 Km
  • Rotate tires every 20,000 Km
  • Rotate tires and align if there is any sign of wear and tear after every 7,500 Km
  • Check bellows on rack-and-pinion unit every time the chassis is lubricated. Leaking units should be replaced.
  • Replace shocks after 50,000 Km.

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