Smooth Ride: Comparing Five Vehicle Suspension Options

This article compares five common vehicle suspension systems.

A car’s suspension provides a buffer against the bumps in the road for both the passengers and the engine. Even more important, today’s suspensions can actually enhance steering and traction. Here is a comparison of five vehicle suspension options.


Wishbone Suspensions

In the regular wishbone front suspension, wheel spindles move up and down on the upper and lower arms of an A-shaped apparatus, placing most of their load on the lower arms. In the Double A Wishbone, the load is moved to the upper arm by moving the spring/shock unit. In the trailing arm suspension, pairs of arms reduce side-to-side motions by moving parallel to the chassis.


Multi-Link Suspensions

This modern suspension separates the arms of the wishbone and allows for a complex system of pivots and separate suspension arm torquing. The shock absorbers and springs are separated to allow these complex Multi-Link operations.


McPherson Strut Independent Suspension

For this suspension, steering pivots the car strut and shock absorbing housing on a single, lower arm. This system is lighter-weight as well as more effective. Despite its independence, an anti-roll bar often connects the front to the rear. If not, there is a computerized system to handle the anti-roll aspects. If you suspect damage to the strut, consider visiting a mechanic like Speedy Brake and Apollo Muffler in Calgary or one near you.


Sports-Tuned Suspensions

These are regular wishbone or multi-link systems with adjustable shock absorbers and adjustable spring rates. These actually let the driver regulate damping, the amount of oil pushed through the shock absorber’s valves. In sports mode, drivers can demand a smaller constriction and thus a stiffer suspension. Drivers can add this type of tuning to their vehicle with aftermarket suspension tuning.


Independent Rear Suspension

Like front suspensions, independent rear suspensions may still be joined by an anti-roll bar. The coil-over-spring rear suspension uses a pair of control arms that are attached to the chassis and to the rear axle ends. The beam axle can be used if it’s a front wheel drive car. This beam has springs and shocks at each end. Some beam axles have a twist axle which provides more absorption for individual rear wheels. Still others have a torsion bar that actually attaches to the control arms and runs the chassis length.


If the suspension is deteriorating, drivers will notice such things as uneven tire wire, a clunking noise during a turn, or oily drips under the chassis. At this point, it is a good idea to visit a mechanic. Fixing a suspension problem quickly can prevent bigger problems later.

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