The purpose of a suspension is to ensure that all four tires (or more) are touching the ground at all times, ensuring proper friction so driving is safe, even in scenarios such as driving over potholes or uneven road surfaces. Before understanding suspensions and the various types of suspensions, it is important to understand tire alignment. There are four parts to wheel alignment. Camber will be explained first:
Understanding caster helps one understand why the tires straighten out after you let go of the steering wheel in a turn.
Toe is important depending on whether your car is front wheel drive, or rear wheel drive, as well as handling characteristics such as high speeds or heavy cornering.
Finally, steering axis inclination is utilized to minimize tire wear, by reducing the scrub radius of a tire.
And now the fun and interesting information: how suspensions work.
There are dozens (if not more) of different types of suspensions, and many auto manufacturers have their own variants of each. Some of the more common ones include MacPherson struts, double wishbone suspensions, and solid axles. Check out the videos below to learn about each and their unique advantages.
Two more suspension variants you may have heard of, which typically are used in higher end supercars and racing, include push-rod and pull-rod suspensions. Both work in a similar fashion. See the videos below to learn more about each.
We couldn't end this discussion with a small debate. The 2015 Mustang will supposedly incorporate an independent rear suspension. Is this the right move? Watch the video below and decide for yourself:
The next lesson will discuss brakes and safety systems, such as anti-lock brakes and stability control.