Shocks, struts, springs, sway and torsion bars, arms and axles
Did you ever wonder how the suspension system works? Let me explain it to you.
The components of the suspension consist of:
- Shock absorbers
- Mcpherson struts
- Sway bars
- Torsion bars
- A arms
- Lower control arms
- Tire pressure
The various components of the suspension systems of every vehicle are designed to counteraffect the forces of gravity and inertia! Even though every car is different, every system accomplishes the same objective:
KEEP ALL THE WHEELS IN CONTACT WITH THE GROUND AT ALL TIMES.
Modification of the suspension system is usually counterproductive and results in excessive tire wear, handling difficulties and undue stress on suspension parts.
The TIRES are the most important component of the suspension system. They transfer all the power of the engine to the ground, and stop the motion of the vehicle. WHEELS work with the tires to allow the suspension to work properly. Improper wheels or tires can cause unstable and dangerous conditions.
The SHOCK ABSORBERS are steel or aluminum cylinders filled with oil and pressurized with nitrogen. As the suspension moves, a piston is forced to move through the oil filled cylinder. To accommodate the piston’s movement, oil must travel from one side of the piston to the other through small holes in the piston. Depending on the vehicle weight and use, the holes in the piston vary in size and number. Additional holes open or close depending upon how fast the piston is moving. The shock absorbers are attached to each wheel and serve to dampen bumps and dips in the road by offering a variable resistance to movement. The energy of the motion is dissipated as heat.
The SPRING is a device that can temporarily store energy. By doing this it can supply this energy afterwards. The springs usually maintain pressure between surfaces, supporting one surface from another. By maintaining a constant pressure the spring offers support by resisting any motion that would tend to change the relative position of two objects. Most suspension systems use coil or helical springs, while some use leaf springs. Leaf springs are flat bars whose ends are attached to the suspension while the center of the spring is firmly attached to the axle housing. Springs allow the wheel to move up and down with respect to the frame of the vehicle.
TORSION BARS are a form of spring. They are steel bars situated in the suspension so as to act like springs. That is, one end of the torsion bar is attached to the frame of the vehicle, and the other end is attached to the moving suspension of each wheel. They act just like springs because they twist with varying load forces. The response time for torsion bars are slightly faster than with springs and there is no bouncing effect.
MCPHERSON STRUTS differ from shock absorbers by the way the spring attaches to the strut assembly. On a shock absorber, the spring is in a position away from the shock, whereas the Mcpherson strut has the spring around the shock absorber. The Mcpherson strut is usually an integral part of the suspension.
SWAY BARS or antiroll bars are attached between the left and right wheels, at the front and rear of the vehicle, and control body roll motion in turns. The bar is made of spring steel and is designed so that when one wheel is forced up in a turn, such as the left wheel in a left turn, the bar pushes down on the right wheel counteracting the body roll. Thereby keeping the car as level is possible under all driving conditions.
The Mcpherson strut or shock absorber is surrounded by A ARMS and LOWER CONTROL ARMS. They form a pivoting frame that allows the suspension to travel up and down, keeping the tire/wheel perpendicular to the ground at all times.
The AXLE transmits power from the engine to the ground through various components. The axles on Hondas are of the constant velocity type: Both ends of the axle are always going the same speed under all conditions. On some models, the axles are of unequal lengths. Sometimes the vehicle will pull to the side with the longer axle. This is called torque steer. When the axle boot on the axle gets damaged, the grease inside the boot gets slung out by centrifugal force, drying out the precision bearing of the joint. The remaining grease attracts dirt and sand, wearing out the surfaces of the bearing. If the boot can be replaced soon after discovering the broken boot, the damage to the axle will be minimized. However, if the axle is clicking when turning, it needs to be replaced.
Proper ALIGNMENT of all four wheels is important for extended tire life. TIRE PRESSURE is also important to maintain tire life and proper handling under all circumstances. Always maintain the tire pressure at the maximum recommended on the tire.
Don’t forget to check the tire pressure of the spare tire. Small spare tires usually require 60 lbs.