Vehicle Suspension – Bump, Rattle, and Roll

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Have you ever ridden in someone else's vehicle and felt the difference in how it drives compared to your own? Did you feel the difference in how it handled the curves and went smoothly over bumps? Did their vehicle make a good first impression? That is all due to the vehicle suspension, which may make it the first or last of many times you will take a drive in their vehicle. A vehicle's suspension is the combination of several parts and components which work together to give you the smoothest driving experience possible, while you maintain complete control of your vehicle. It balances force that comes from increased speed or acceleration, and working with the energy and force from bumps and absorption. Wise Geek online explains that energy as "when a vehicle accelerates down a road, bumps cause forward energy to be converted into vertical energy, which travels through the frame of the vehicle. the vehicle to jump up off the road, reducing tire friction and control. The car would then come binding back down with even greater force, making for a very uncomfortable and dangerous ride. " According to Newton's laws of motion, all forces have both magnitude and direction. A bump in the road causes the wheel to move up and down perpendicular to the road surface. No road or highway is completely flat, and that is the primary need for a good suspension system.

The suspension components making up this critical part of driving include the chassis or frame, coil springs, leaf springs, dampeners including struts and shock absorbers, and anti-swing or torsion bars. A suspension system usually includes a combination of those aforementioned parts. Each has an important job within the system, and all work together in their respective roles to keep your vehicle on the road and at a manageable ride.

Leaf springs and coil springs are made to absorb vertical forces so that your tires stay directly in contact with the ground. Passenger vehicles frequently have coil springs in the front and leaf springs in the rear, while many SUVs and trucks have coil springs in the front and rear positions, or have independent front and rear suspension.

Dampeners (struts and shock absorbers), "dissipate" the energy absorbed by the coil springs so that any up and down motion is basically turned to none. When in working order, the dampeners make it so that passengers riding in the vehicle are rarely affected by bumps or dips in the roadways.

Some vehicles also have torsion bars, also known as anti-sway or anti-roll bars. They are found across the vehicle's frame and assist in leveling out the side to side movements when going around corners. Torsion bars are an integral component in vehicles that are considered to be top heavy or more likely to roll over. Another crucial part of a vehicle's suspension system is the ball joints. These ball joints are made from extra tough steel, and act as a pivot or connector between the suspension and the tires. They help support your vehicle's weight, and can also be a factor in properly setting its alignment.

Newer cars and luxury vehicles tend to drive a little better because those dampeners are not old and worn and are a little better built. If this happens, one a car builds once, it will continue to bounce a few times over and over again. Worn suspension systems can be quite easily identifiable because of how it feels. Bumps and dips in the road seem bigger and more different than they really are and there may be a continuing bounce after after hitting a bump because the energy has not been absorbed by the system. If you feel every little bump on the road, hear a lot of noises and feel vibrations on the highway or off road areas, or you actually feel pain from the bumps in your body, it is necessary to get your car checked by a reliable auto repair shop. Maintaining your vehicle is important to maintain safety and value, and keeping your suspension system in good shape is a good way to do both.

Driving habits have a lot to do with your vehicle suspension system. Driving where your vehicle is not meant to go or bumping into curbs can have serious effects on your suspension health, as well as your tires. Other factors may include operating conditions, your vehicle type, the type of steering or suspension system you have, and frequently checking your chassis's lubrication and wheel alignment. To maintain your own suspension system routinely, look at the tires on your vehicle and see if there is any wear or damaged treads in abnormal places like the sides of the tires or the walls. Also check to see if there is any fluid leaking from the power steering hoses or anywhere in the steering area. This can cause wear on the suspension system itself. Check the shocks and struts to make sure they are not worn, as these make sure the suspension system and energy is evenly dispersed on all four wheels. You can also check the system by doing a "bounce check." Get in your car and drive around. If your vehicle vibrates, rocks, or builds, you may need to replace the system. Road safety is the most important factor when you drive your vehicle. Keep your car safe and maintained by starting with your suspension system. You do not want to find out that something as simple as a component of your suspension system was improperly functioning after losing control of your vehicle.

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