Getting to know suspension

According to the meteorological calendar, spring has finally sprung, and therefore, this week’s “Getting to Know” series will aptly be focusing on car suspension and what its role is.


What is suspension?  


The suspension is designed to absorb the energy caused by the defects (e.g. bumps) in the road surface to create a smoother ride, and also assists with safe acceleration, braking and cornering. The other main job of the suspension is to help keep tyres in contact with the tarmac.


What are the core parts of the suspension?


The two core elements of a suspension system are the springs and dampers, which can be found on each wheel.


The coil springs are designed to absorb loads sent to the wheels and store them as potential energy through compressing. When possible, the spring will decompress, meaning the potential energy will be released as kinetic energy, which thereby causes the wheel to be pushed down to make contact with the ground.


The dampers, or shock absorbers, then get rid of any energy left stored in the spring by transforming it into heat. Without dampers, a car would bounce until all of the energy from the impact was released via other means.


The anti-roll bar is another important component within the suspension system. Its main role is to force each side of the vehicle to lower, or rise, to similar heights, as it goes over uneven surfaces. It equally helps to reduce the sideways tilting (roll) of the vehicle on sharp corners.


What can go wrong with the suspension?


Parts which make up the suspension system will inevitably wear out over time and will need to be replaced. Worn components can also cause a vehicle’s stopping distance to decrease by up to 20%.


Signs that the suspension may not be in optimum working order include the vehicle sagging on one side (i.e. one side is lower than the other), the ride being more bumpy than normal when defects in the road are not absorbed as well, unequal tyre wear shown by different levels of tread depths, as well as poor steering response.


Where can I find a garage to get my suspension repaired or replaced?


To find your local Motor Ombudsman-accredited franchised car dealership or independent garage to get your suspension repaired or replaced, visit The Motor Ombudsman’s online Garage Finder.


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