What is a Suspension System?

Next to the engine, the most important part of a car is the suspension system.  Rightly so, because it is in fact the harbinger of a good ride. The suspension system functions to limit the impact of a particular road condition to the passengers. The ease by which you drive the car, the rapid acceleration to sudden stops and tight cornering are all handled by a very efficient suspension system. So even when your car sports a powerful engine and looks really nice, it cannot be considered as a good buy  after all if its suspension system sucks. Moreover, expect an uncomfortable ride along bumpy roads and potholes if your suspension system is not working properly.

One component of the suspension system is the chassis, which holds the cab of the car. There are a few European cars however, that use a unified body instead of a chassis in order to reduce total body weight. But for many muscle cars, pick-up trucks and SUVs, the chassis is widely used. Next comes the springs, which could either be coil, leaf or the torsion type.  The springs support the weight of the vehicle, absorb and reduce excess energy obtained from road shocks, while maintaining tire contact with the road. Springs normally cannot dissipate the extra energy obtained from road bumps and potholes, so the vehicle will continue to bounce for every road defect encountered— until dispersed and when the car finally comes to a halt. This uncalled for action of the springs are then controlled by two types of shock absorbers, the air or the popular hydraulic. These two make up the heart of the suspension system. Should one of these malfunction, passengers will surely experience a bumpy ride. Another essential component of the suspension system is the anti-sway bar. The bar shifts the movement of the wheels and stabilizes the car especially when driving at high speeds.

The tires and the steering wheel are likewise components of the suspension system. Manufacturer specified tires should always be used and car owners should always keep in mind to maintain correct tire pressure.  Power steering on the other hand is standard for all vehicles that keep the engine running, either while speeding along the highway or cornering the nearest intersection.

When buying a new car always insist on a thorough test drive and if possible try it on rough roads to assess the capability and condition of the suspension system. Remember that the key to a good car is its suspension system.

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