How does a car suspension system work?


A car suspension system is made up of springs and other components that work together to provide a shock absorbing effect during car rides. Come in here to read more on how a car suspension works.

A car suspension is the major reason why driving is smooth and comfortable. There are springs attached to key components such as tires, tire air, shock absorbers and linkages within the vehicle to form a shock absorbing effect.

This shock absorbing system is essentially the car suspension system. The suspension system attaches the wheels to the vehicle and allows smooth relative motion between the two. The car suspension has a vital role in ensuring you relax and enjoy a long distance trip inside the car.

Also, the suspension system plays an important role in power and performance of the vehicle. It is imperative that the suspension keep the wheel and the road in constant contact to prevent damage, wear and tear. The harmony between the roads and the tires are provided by the car suspension system. Whenever the car travels to an off-road or bumpy track, it is the suspension that provides a smoother drive.

1. How does a car suspension system work?

The suspension system usually differs in the front and another in the rear.

There are two types of suspension systems with different mechanism. Naijacarnews has listed each of them below!

1.1. Dependent suspension

The dependent system has a rigid axle linkage between the two tires making the force acting on one wheel to affect the other wheel. This is rarely found on car’s manufactured in the last decade.

The dependent system has handling issues and passengers within the passenger cabin experience high vibrations in comparison with the independent suspension system.


Dependent suspentions become less popular nowadays

1.2. Independent suspension

This system allows both wheels to move vertically up and down separately. The force acting on one tire does not necessary cause the other to react. This is very common among modern design and manufacturing of vehicles in this day and age.

2. Functions of a car suspension system

There are three main functions of a car suspension, including:

  • Maximize the friction between the road surface and the tires during acceleration, cruising and braking
  • Provide steering stability with good handling
  • Ensure the passengers in the car compartment are protected and comfortable

Forces have both magnitude and direction according to Newton’s law of motion, therefore a bump on the road causes the wheel to move up and down vertically, perpendicular to the road surface. The magnitude is determined by the size of the bump coming into contact with the tires. This drives the wheels upward and out of contact with the road, because of gravity, the wheels come slamming back down onto the road surface. Therefore a system is required to absorb the vertically accelerated wheel.

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3. Components of a car suspension sysytem

The three basic components of any suspension system are dampers, anti sway bars and springs.


The main job of the car suspension system ensures the car's handling

The components of the suspension system are classified according to sprung mass and unsprung mass.

  • Sprung mass

 Anything above the springs and supported by them.

  • Unsprung mass

This is anything below the springs, between the springs and the road like the tires.

  • Anti sway bars

These are metal rods usually found along the strut to give additional stability. It spans the entire axle and joins each side of the suspension together.

There are three commonly used strings in cars namely; leaf springs, torsion bar and coil springs.

  • Leaf springs

These are several layers of metal bound together to act as a single unit. It is used usually on trucks.

  • Torsion bar

One end is anchored to the vehicle frame and the other to the wishbone which acts as a lever which moves perpendicular to the torsion bar. When you hit a bump, the vertical forces are transferred to the wishbone and through levering action to torsion bar which then twists along its axis to provide the bring force. This is very common on European manufactured cars.

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  • Coil springs

 These are essentially metal bars coiled around on an axis acting as a heavy torsion bar.

Spring stiffness is a measure of the response of the sprung mass when the car is in operation.

Loosely sprung cars such as luxury cars swallow bumps but are prone to dive and squat during acceleration and braking and also roll or sway during cornering. That is when there is increased force acting on the front or rear of the vehicle respectively, causing the vehicle to either lift up or press down against the road.

Tightly sprung cars especially found in sport cars are less adaptable to bumpy roads but minimize body movement so it is easy to drive them aggressively and even around corners without much body motion.

Springs absorb energy you still require to dissipate it. That’s where dampers come in. One common one is the shock absorbers. This slow down and reduce the magnitude of vibrations and kinetic energy. It works by converting the kinetic energy into heat energy for easy dissipation.


No longer problems with the shaking in the cabin as most of cars now come with independent suspension

4. How to maintain the car suspension system

Regular maintenance and service are required to keep the suspension system functional and prolong the onset of wear, tear and damage.

Visual inspections will enable you spot any immediate issues that requires attention. Some of the tips for maintenance are:

  • Detailed inspection

Visual inspections of the tires and system will enable you discover symptoms of cracks and damage to the components.

  • Regular cleaning

Cleaning and removal of foreign objects will prolong the life of the components.

  • Check the linkages and components

Ensure the linkages and joints are properly attached and no loose components or bolts are missing.

  • Check for oil leakage and obvious damage

Ensure there is no oil leakage from the engine. The car suspension sytem has rubber bushings that are susceptible to damage upon contact with oil.

Video: Suspension | How it Works

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Juliet Onyeachonam


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