What is Car Suspension?

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When it comes to your car, you probably know what some of the components do. The gas pedal moves the car, the steering wheel turns the car and the brakes stop the car … well, hopefully you know your car does all that!  But do you know what the suspension of your car actually does?  You may know that they cost a lot to have fixed or replaced, but do you know why they are so important?

Let’s take a closer look at what this part of the car does.

Where is Car Suspension, and What Does the Suspension Do?

Located between the frame and the wheel of the car; the suspension is a vital component to any vehicle.  A suspension serves many different functions that you may not expect. One purpose is to withstand any stress the car may endure, be that the weight from the passengers or items you store in the trunk.

The suspension also absorbs bumps in the road to provide a smoother ride for the passenger.  Its function is also to keep the wheels connected to the road at all times. This is why high speed turns are possible—because the suspension distributes the weight of the car (otherwise cars roll more easily).

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The Different Types of Suspension

There are different types of suspension out there, but they all essentially boil down to two different types: dependent and independent.

  • Dependent: Used mainly to reduce cost while serving the basic function of a suspension system.
  • Independent: Allows for full control of the wheels while providing stable wheel alignment.

Independent suspension systems are used by most manufacturers these days and carry less drawbacks than the dependent suspension system, which can increase the magnitude of the vibrations and bumps in a vehicle. The dependent suspension system also provides less handling the less traction the vehicle has.

The Two Parts of the Suspension System

A suspension can be broken down into two separate components, each of which perform critical roles in the system’s performance.

First there is the spring, which allows the car to correct any irregularity on the road and support any additional weight without having the car sway too much—something we all definitely want to avoid on the road!

Then there are the damping mechanisms, which help control the inertia created by bumps on the road.

Breaking Down the Two Parts of the Suspension

Now that we have identified the two parts that make up the suspension, let’s break that down even further to truly understand what each system does. Let us start with the spring again; this particular system can be broken down into three different types:

  • Coil Spring—The most common of the three, this type of spring uses cylinders of wire wrapped tightly together that compress and expand in order to absorb the wheels motion.
  • Leaf Spring—These are stacks of curved metal that bend up and down to allow for a smooth ride over bumpy terrain. This is also the oldest type of spring in existence. As such, it is easy to assemble and is used on most heavy duty trucks and vehicles.
  • Torsion Spring—Made from stiff pieces of metal that turn on their own axis. This type of spring is similar to that of a coil spring.

There is one more type of spring, known as the air spring. However, this particular type of spring is not common in most vehicles and is primarily found in buses or luxury cars.

Now, let us look at the next part of the suspension the dampening mechanism. This part too has three different types:

  • Shock Absorbers: This piece reduces the vibrations caused by the springs as well as slowing down the bounce of the spring.
  • Suspension Strut: This is essentially a shock absorber that is mounted in a coil spring. It provides structural support for the suspension and softens the impact caused by the spring.
  • Anti-Sway Bar: Also known as an anti-roll bar, this piece is designed to create an even and level trip, while distributing the movement one-wheel experiences to another on the same axel.

The Cost of a New Suspension

There are many different parts to your cars suspension, and there is no standard price when it comes to repairs—as not every piece may be broken, and every mechanic charges different rates.

However, if you do find yourself in need of an entirely new suspension system, then be prepared to shell out some serious cash.  The price can start as low as $1,000 for the simplest of cars and work its way up to at least $2,500.

So, why is your car suspension so important?

  • It withstands any stress the car may endure
  • It absorbs bumps in the road to provide a smoother ride
  • It keeps the wheels connected to the road
  • It allows high speed turns to be possible

Most people don’t truly know how essential their car suspension actually is until it needs to be replaced.  So, the next time you are crossing a set of train tracks or going over a speed bump; take it slow and protect your car suspension!

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