The Suspension System is designed to provide a smooth ride for you and your passengers and to safely keep all the wheels in contact with the ground at all times, given all road conditions.
Technological improvements are constantly being made to optimize the suspension system. Our Autotech Performance technicians are aware of these developments and make sure that your vehicle’s suspension is as efficient and durable as possible.
Main Components of the Suspension System
- Wheels (rims)
- Shock Absorbers (dampers)
- McPherson Strut Suspension
- Upper Control Arms (A-arms)
- Lower Control Arms
- Sway Bars (anti-roll bars)
- Torsion Bars
- Axle System
- Wheel Alignment
- Tire Pressure
How does the Suspension System work?
The suspension system connects your vehicle to its wheels. It is designed to counteract the forces of gravity, propulsion and inertia that are applied to your vehicle as you accelerate, slow down or stop in such a way that all four wheels remain on the ground!
The tires – which are mounted on your vehicle’s wheels (or rims) – are the most important and visible components of the system. They transfer the power of the engine to the ground when your vehicle moves and they counter that motion when it stops.
As you drive over a bumpy road, shocks are absorbed by the combined work of a shock absorber (or damper) and a coil or leaf spring mounted on each wheel. The spring is a device that stores energy in order to supply it later on. It is actually the spring that handles the abuse of the road by allowing the wheel to move up and down with respect to the frame of the vehicle. In return, the shock absorber softens the suspension moves entailed by the spring by “absorbing the shocks”. The shock absorber is a steel or aluminum hydraulic cylinder filled with oil and pressurized with nitrogen. As the suspension moves, a piston is forced to move through the oil-filled cylinder. The energy produced from the motion of the piston is dissipated as heat which in turn is absorbed by the oil.
The McPherson strut suspension differs from a conventional shock absorber by the way the spring is positioned around the strut. The surrounding upper control arm – or A-arm or wishbone – and lower control arm form a pivoting frame allowing the suspension to move up and down while keeping the tire/wheel system perpendicular to the ground at all times. These arms are an integral part of the McPherson strut which has become the most common shock absorber used in recent front wheel-drive vehicles.
Sway bars (or anti-roll bars) control body roll motion during turns. They are made of spring steel and attached between the left and right wheels, at the front and rear of your vehicle. These bars are designed to keep your vehicle as leveled as possible under all driving conditions. For instance, when the left wheel is forced upon – as you are turning left – the sway bar pushes down on the right wheel counteracting the body roll.
Steel torsion bars are also part of the suspension system. For each wheel, the torsion bar has one end attached to the frame of your vehicle while the other end is attached to the moving suspension of the wheel. Torsion bars act like springs, twisting with varying load forces. The suspension response time with torsion bars is slightly faster than with springs and there is no bouncing effect.
Finally, it is through the axle system or driveshaft that the power from the engine is transmitted to the wheels and tires.
Note that whatever your vehicle’s type of suspension, its efficiency depends on a proper wheel alignment. Proper alignment and adequate tire air pressure extend the tires life and ensure proper handling of the vehicle under all circumstances.
Signs of troubles related to the Suspension System
- Excessive tire wear
- Poor steering control or off-center steering wheel
- Excessive bouncing over road bumps
- Loss of control during sudden stops
- Excessive swerving while changing lanes
- Front-end nose diving during quick stops
- Vehicle sag in front or rear