Simply put, the suspension in your car is the system that connects your vehicle to the wheels, to provide easy handling and accurate steering. Your suspension system incorporates tyres, springs, shock absorbers and several other car parts, helping to ensure a smooth ride, and keep your tyres on the road after a bump.
Second only to the engine, the suspension is a vital system in your car, and keeping it in good condition not only makes your car more comfortable to drive, but also protects other parts of the car from additional wear and tear.
Which Parts Are In Your Suspension System?
Crucial to the performance of your suspension, coil springs are often found in both cars and smaller vans, and usually made of steel or a similar metal. Most modern cars feature one spring for each wheel, which compresses and expands as the car moves to absorb the motion.
In some cars, torsion bars are used instead of conventional coil springs. This is a long metal bar attached to both the car and the suspension system, which absorbs movement by twisting when the car hits a bump.
Shock absorbers work in conjunction with coil springs to dampen any potentially damaging force the car might otherwise encounter – for example, after going over a speed bump. The energy from the spring is transferred to the shock absorber, which contains either hydraulic fluid or gas; this then slows down the movement of the spring.
Coil springs and shock absorbers are frequently fitted as individual parts, but occasionally they appear combined as a single component. This configuration is called a MacPherson strut, where the damper is actually inside the coil spring itself.
The Different Types Of Suspension
With thousands of different cars on the market, it’s no surprise that there are several key types of suspension system. Here are three you’re most likely to come across:
In a dependent suspension system, the wheels on each side of the vehicle are connected to each other via a rigid axle. This means that when there’s an external force acting on one wheel –it impacts the wheel on the other side too. For instance, if the left wheel encounters a pothole, then the motion of the right wheel will be directly affected.
Contrastingly, with an independent suspension system, every wheel is supported separately – so the movement of the other wheels shouldn’t have a direct impact. This can offer a more comfortable ride, as well as better handling, because the wheels can react individually to the surface of the road. As a result of this, independent suspension systems are commonly found in off-road vehicles and four-wheel drives.
Popular in luxury cars and SUVs, air suspension relies on “air springs” – which are effectively air-filled chambers – instead of conventional coil springs. Air is either pumped into or let out of these containers, in order to cushion the movement of the vehicle.
This sophisticated system is powered by intelligent microprocessors, which can operate each air spring on its own, or get them to work together collectively. When all the air springs are engaged at once, they’re able to raise the vehicle up to protect it from rough ground, or even lower it down to improve stability.
If there’s a part in your suspension system that needs replacing, you can find a wide range of affordable parts at Euro Car Parts. With over 130,000 different products in stock from reputable brands, you’re sure to find what you need either online, or in store. Just put your registration number into our convenient fast finder tool, and we’ll filter out any items which aren’t suitable for your vehicle.