Auto Suspension (Car Suspension) Demystified

To the avid driver who is constantly behind the wheel, the suspension or shock absorbers is the one thing that can’t be spoken highly of enough. By preventing the undesirable bumps while driving along rough roads, the suspension helps prevent major body issues such as chronic back injuries. Being one of the most vital parts in a car, it is a shame that they are often overlooked. However, this blog post explains the working mechanism of the automobile suspension and the general functioning of the different types of suspension. Hold on tight as this one will get really interesting.

What Is a Suspension?

Generally, a suspension is a part of a motor vehicle that cancels out most of the forces exerted to the vehicle while on the road to ensure that the cabin remains still. Such forces could be exerted by small rocks or potholes along roads. You’d be wrong to think that the only function of a suspension is to cushion the cabin when the car hits a pothole or bump on the road as it offers more than just that. To start with, a suspension makes driving easier and more enjoyable. Besides this, what else does suspension do in a car?

Functions of Suspension

A suspension’s primary function is to offer comfort to the occupants of the car, ensure that the car maintains contact with the surface, and ultimately help the driver attain control of all the vehicle tires, which is automatically achieved whenever the tires are in contact with the ground. But how does it achieve this? You might not understand that yet as we need to first talk about the aspects that a suspension helps to achieve. These factors are comfort, contact and control.

How Does a Suspension Promote Comfort?

We’ll explain how a suspension ensures the comfort of the car occupants by discussing its general functioning. By understanding how a suspension works, you’ll also find out how contact and control are correlated.

The Functioning of a Suspension

The working of a suspension is based on the law of force dissipation, which entails the conversion of force into heat and thus eliminating the effect that the force would have had. This is achieved through a combination of springs, dampers and struts. The spring stores the force momentarily while the damper converts the force to heat. Read on to find out how this process occurs.

Storage of Force by a Spring

In a suspension system, a spring plays the vital role of storing energy that is generated whenever a car moves over uneven ground, such as a bump. Force is converted to energy and stored when a spring or coil is compressed. The energy that a spring can store depends on several factors, which include but not limited to length, material and coefficient of the spring. The material of the spring is an important factor as different materials will have different capacities to hold energy. For instance, most non-durable materials will lose strength over time.

The two types of springs used in suspension systems are coil springs and leaf springs. Coil springs are common, and you might have seen one already. Leaf springs are attached to a solid axle and are therefore common in trucks since they are characterized by a very high energy-storing capacity compared to coil springs.