Front suspension Over/under A-arm Leaf Spring & Solid Axle This setup is most commonly used in 4x4

vehicles and very old cars. The concept here is that two leaf springs are attached lengthwise at both ends to the frame. One end of the leaf spring must have a shackle which acts as a pivot and allows the spring to change slightly in length while flexing. The centers of the leaf springs are attached to the solid front axle. Steering is achieved through steering knuckles on the end of the axle and on 4x4 vehicles power is transmitted through the steering axles to the wheels via universal joints and stub axles which engages the handbrake.

Rear suspension Solid axle Leaf Spring Leaf spring rear suspension is much like a front leaf spring suspension minus the steering linkage and knuckles. Two leaf springs are evenly spaced off center and attach at their ends to the frame both at the front and back. Normally, one end of the spring is solid-mounted with a bolt/nut through a bushed eye to a bracket on the frame and the other end is connected through a shackle arrangement which allows no binding as the length of the spring changes during upward and downward movement of the differential. A solid axle differential is then mounted somewhere near the center of the springs front to rear. Triangulated 4 Link Two longitudinally straight lower control arms and two angled upper control arms hold the rear end in place horizontally while allowing it to move vertically. This setup allows for the use of coilovers or coil springs and shocks. This "triangulation" of the upper control arms keeps the rear axle centered, thus no Pan hard bar is necessary with this set-up.

This setup must utilize either a Pan hard bar or Watt's link for centering the rear axle. This suspension design has no provision to keep the rear axle centered so a centering device like a Pan hard bar or Watt's link must be used. there is no compliance in the bars like there would be in an OEM system. Ladder bar V-shaped bars which attach the front point of the bars to the frame toward the front of the car and the other end to brackets which are welded to a solid axle differential housing. or Vee point of the bars. At the front.Parallel 4 Link Two straight lower control arms and two straight upper control arms provide superior axle roll control during a hard launch. This set-up is commonly found in drag racing applications. while the rear end is kept centered. The one main disadvantage of this setup is when retrofitting it on old cars the back seat may have to be removed entirely to allow the 3rd control arm to be attached to the frame optimally. 3 Link 3-Link suspension is a design of rear suspension which has 3 control arms on a solid rear axle connecting it to the frame. the differential may be "clocked" or rotated to change the pinion angle. The two bottom links remain in the their typical longitudinal location while the top 3rd link is attached to the top of the rear end perfectly center. . they may be moved up or down in their brackets to change the way the load of the differential is fed into the frame structure of the car. Where the car has to negotiate an uneven entry or exit such as angling into or from a driveway. although they may be overly harsh in a street application. Ladder bars are a low-cost way of controlling differential rotation. It is said this type of setup achieves the best handling as the rear end is allowed to tilt from side to side with the roadway. At the housing brackets. Coil springs and shocks are used in this setup or a coil-over setup can be used.

the first mass produced front suspension design was the solid beam axle. Solid beam axle Going in chronological order. and shocks have kept the solid axle practical for some applications. Ladder bars may be used to control axle rotation with a leaf-spring arrangement or may be used with coil-overs or coils/shocks using a Pan hard bar or Watts Link to control lateral body movement in relation to the differential housing. Stainless steel adjusters and double shear plates are employed at the back of the bars. The bushing has an inner steel sleeve which accepts a drag legal 3/4" bolt. quieter. The flexibility of the urethane bushing allows the rear to twist and float slightly to soak up road irregularities and bumps for a better handling. This is a low-cost. They place a heavy duty urethane bushing in the front with a heavy duty outer sleeve welded directly to the ladder bars for extra strength. a good reason to limit ladder bars to a race-only vehicle. Auto Weld Chassis has developed a compliant urethane member in the Vee-point.You could find one of the front tires being pulled off the surface of the roadway due to chassis twist and non-conformity of the bars. maintenance-free ride that is still able to supply the necessary traction. At least one manufacturer has addressed this non-conformity. This style was carried over to the first automobiles from the horse drawn carriages of the past and worked well enough so that initially no other suspension even needed to be considered. roll bars. Another peril is the bending or breaking of brackets or welds from the flexing. in the beam axle setup both of the front wheels are connected to each other by a solid axle. In fact the beam axle can still be found today. Just as it sounds. Have you ever taken a look at . New developments in springs. new generation of ladder bars for Pro-Street use.

We’ll make a quick list of the advantages versus the disadvantages for the beam axle front suspension to help understand why it can be used on heavy trucks but is far from desirable on a performance or passeng Advantage-------1. Size------Simply put solid axles are huge and fitting them into a chassis requires an amount of space not practically available. compromised road holding capability. 5. Wheel movement-------Because both wheel are tied together the force acting on each wheel are directed to the other wheel.Due to the high mass of the axle and wheel being connected. Bad bump steer---------Because a beam axle makes locating the steering correctly difficult. 2. Disadvantage---------1. Simplicity-----Three are very few components in this suspension so manufacturing and assembly efficiency along with robustness are maximized easily. 2. This results in a rough rode and even worse. 4. Strength-------The beam axle can be made extremely strong which is useful when supporting large loads. most solid axle suspensions suffer from an uncontrollable amount of bump steer. 3. Unsprung weight-------Having a large beam connecting the two front wheel result in a lot of mass. 3. you would’ve noticed that both of the front wheels are connect by a solid axle. the wheels always stay perpendicular to the road. there is not much ride isolation between the sprung and unsprung mass. and there is no loss of camber from body roll. Camber control-------Because both wheels are tied together. . Ride Quality------.the front end of a semi or heavy duty truck? If you have. Again hindering the performance of the car. This extra mass really hinders the road holding capability of the suspension on rough roads. Under loads this causes the wheel to shimmy and decreases the stability of the vehicle in comers.

Less Wheel Movement--------Because this is an independent setup. It is. as the name suggests. force from one wheel are not transmitted directly to the other. Simple--------While a little more complex than a solid axle this design is still far simple than as SLA setup. there is better ride isolation . 3. they moved on to early attempts at an independent style of front suspension. set up so that the axles pivot about a location somewhere near the center of the car and allow the wheels to travel up and down through their respective arcs. by de-coupling the front wheels and not mounting the chassis on a solid bean. Advantage--------1. This dramatically improves the stability of the car over rough terrain and through comers. 2. This system was eventually adapted for rear suspensions as can be found on the old beetles.Swing axle After designers had come to realize the severe drawbacks of the solid axle front suspension. Ride quality--------Again. I’ll use a simple chart to help identify the advantages the swing axle has over the solid axle and highlight some of the shortcomings of this suspension design as well. One of these attempts came to be known as a swing axle suspension.

. further improving the handing of the vehicle when the suspension is in bump. Steering Provisions---------An independent suspension provides more leeway in steering geometry. As a result. Trailing link systems like the one in the front of the old beetle were a success from the manufacturer standpoint as they did improve ride and reduce the packaging size of the suspension. bump steer could be more controlled. When this happens. Disadvantage----------1. Trailing link suspension Another early form of front independent suspension is called the trailing link suspension. This causes a loss in comering power right when it is needed most. the back end would lose traction causing the vehicle to lose control.between the sprung and unsprung masses providing improved ride characteristics and more predictable suspension response. there were some considerable drawbacks to the trailing link system when applied to vehicles that generate high cornering loads. early designs like the trailing link suspension attempted to excel in those areas of improvement. Hence the name. Where forces act through the wheel and axle to raise the car. a swing axle exhibits a phenomenon known as jacking. Handling Problems from Jacking ---------While the swing axle is satisfactory for some application on vehicles that can create larger comering forces. The most prominent example of this can be found in the early corvairs with a swing axle. Since independent front suspensions were pioneered in production cars to improve the ride characteristics of vehicles as well as minimize the space needed for the suspension itself. the car lifts. However. This suspension design uses a set of arms located ahead of the wheels to support the unsprung mass. the axle drops and there is a sevsre loss in negative camber. When the car would raise. In essence the wheel “trails” the suspension links. 4.

When the trailing are subjected to significant loads they bend.Advantage-------1. offers a simple and compact suspension package. Weight--------The control arms be very beefy to support the road loads transmitted through the wheels. This causes the wheels to vibrate. 2. In addition. . Standard Independent Advantage-----------The trailing link design offered all of improvements in ride quality and road holding that the swing axle did. 3. Small size-------One further advantage of the trailing link suspension over the swing axle was the reduced overall size of the suspension components and reduction in chassis space necessary to house them. Loss of camber---------When the car rolls on trailing links. 2. where the spring/shock directly connects the steering knuckle to the chassis and acts as a link in the suspension. the wheel lose a significant amount of camber which reduces the cornering power of the vehicle. This strut based system. sending the forces through the steering and causing a loss of tire grip. Disadvantage--------1. the links require a significant structure ahead of them to support the entire suspension assembly. Macpherson In the 70’s the MacPherson front suspension assembly became a very popular design on front wheel drive cars.

Disadvantage---------1.This is perfect for small front wheel drive cars where space is tight and even allows room for the drive shaft to pass through the knuckle. 3. while the MacPherson assembly works very well for production road going cars. Scrub Radius Issues--------With a Macpherson setup. Suited for front wheel drive--------Because the Macpherson design uses the strut as the upper suspension link. Today most small cars will use this type of suspension because it is cheap. 2. The chart below illustrates this point. Lack of camber gain--------Due to the design of a strut suspension. Size----------The Macpherson suspension is extremely compact and allows for smaller overall chassis dimensions. there is very little if any camber gain as the wheel moves up in bump. Standard Independent Advantage----------The Macpherson design offered all of the improvements in ride quality and road holding that an independent front suspension can. it is very difficult to increase the tire width on the car. Advantage--------1. has good ride qualities. on performance cars it is less than ideal. This provides the clearance necessary for driveshaft on a front wheel drive vehicle. . The only way to do this is to increase the scrub radius of the tire as it moves through the range of suspension travel. This is perfect for small cars. there is nothing located directly behind the steering knuckle/front hub. and has the compact dimensions necessary for front wheel drive cars. As with the trailing link style independent suspension. This is not desirable as it increase side loading on the suspension and bends components. 2.

This design has many advantages over any of the previous independent front suspensions. Equal length A-arm The next evolution in suspension design was to move towards the equal length A-arm setup. In this design the suspension is supported by a triangulated A-arm at the top and bottom of the knuckle. the wheel gains positive camber and loses traction just as the Macpherson strut suspension does. the tire will roll into positive camber and reduce the overall comering power of the tire. These arms prevent deflections during cornering which ensures that the steering and wheel alignment rem aim consistent. The result is that as the car rolls. Advantage--------1. Disadvantage-------1.The result is that as the chassis rolls on the suspension. . Rigid links--------The double A-arm uses solid. With equal length upper and lower arms. The earliest designs of the A-arm suspension included equal length upper and lower arms mounted parallel to the ground. Lack of camber gain--------Even through the double A-arm suspension provided a vast improvement in ride and comering stability. The chart below covers these and details the shortcomings of the first generation of double A-arm designs. Most quality car manufacturers now use this system. rigid control arms to mount the knuckle to the chassis. This is commonly referred to as a “double wishbone” suspension as the A shaped control arms resemble a wishbone. the tire will rolls on the suspension. there is no negative camber generated as the wheel moves in to bump. Improved independent advantages--------The double A-arm design offered even further improvement in ride quality and road holding than other design. 2.

the increasing negative camber on the outside wheel helps keep the wheel upright against the road surface and allows the tire to generate the maximum possible cornering force. There is no right answer or best geometry. gaining negative camber. there are infinite possibilities in the design of a vehicles roll center height and swing arm length. it has real no disadvantages and is currently the most advanced suspension design used. during chassis roll) The problem was solved by implementing upper and lower A-arms of different length. Lastly. It ultimately comes down to what design will get the vehicle around a corner the fastest. . By using an upper control arm that is shorter than the lower one. that is why a Honda will have different geometry than a Corvette. This flexibility gives suspension designers unlimited options on how to best setup the suspension. when comparing the unequal length double A-arm setup to all the previous iterations of the independent front suspension from a performance standpoint. However. The advantage in this negative camber gain is that as the chassis rolls against the wheels.Unequal length double A-arm After designing.e. The resulting unequal length double A-arm suspension was born. and experimenting with the equal length double A-arm suspension it was vary apparent that all that was needed to make the double A-arm front suspension satisfactory for high performance use was to determine a way for the suspension to gain negative camber as it was compressed. as the wheel travels up it tips in. there are a host of variables that must be considered and result in a less than optimum suspension design for most vehicles. (I. This is because the upper arm swings through a shorter arc than the lower and pulls in the top of the tire as the wheel travels upwards. Simply look at what suspension the most advanced race cars use if you have any doubts. By adjusting the length of the arms and their respective angles to the ground. implementing. The only cars that do not feature this design are vehicles where price and space are of more concern than performance. in production cars the manufacturers have many other things to consider. Depending on the target market and type of car.

This is what gives this suspension its ability to generate negative camber in bump Basic information Truck arm A truck arm suspension uses 2 I-beam section links that mount wide at the axle and close together at the center of the car. The Panhard bar was too short for the long suspension travel inherent in light trucks.The image shows a typical unequal length double A-arm setup. it is now the mandated standard suspension. This suspension was originally used on '60s-early '70s Chevrolet/GM light trucks. resulting . It was so successful. The GM arrangement was compromised in several respects. Junior Johnson was the first car builder to use a truck-arm suspension in NASCAR. The arms mount solidly (with U-bolts) at the axle and on bushings at the frame. Note the difference in length between the upper and lower arms.

in excessive lateral body movement in relation to the axle housing. although a Watts Link could also work. Solid Axle Centering Devices Panhard Bar A Panhard bar is a lateral connection between a point on a cars frame and the opposite end of a solid rear axle. Torque arm A torque arm setup utilizes 2 lower control arms while having a unique arm which attaches near the ceneter of the rear end near the pinion. This is something to be aware of when upgrading from factory to heavy duty aftermarket arms. It can use either coil overs or a coil spring and shock setup. the rate cannot be adjusted without replacing the bushings at the front mounting point of the arms. To minimize the side to side movement a Panhard bar should be both flat and as long as possible. However. In order to accomplish this. On solution to this problem is to buy a sturdier aftermarket torque arm. Both connection points are allowed to pivot. The ideal Panhard bar will be long enough to span just shy of the backing plates left to right on the vehicle. a bracket should be . The shock absorbers were mounted at the wrong angles. This third torque arm extends all the way to the transmission tailshaft or crossmember. allowing the vehicles rear axle to move up and down while limiting side to side motion. Also this setup like the 3 link requires either a panhard bar or watts link for centering the rear axle. This arrangement is over constrained and relies on deflection of the links and bushings in order for the body to roll. Because of this it acts like a built-in anti-roll bar. A Panhard bar is traditionally used for lateral restraint. On the other side. a bracket should be welded to the differential housing which would place the bar just short of interference at the backing plate on one side of the car. This system is known to be a good handling performer however during lauches the flexing of the tourque arm can change pinion angle undesirably. The advantage that the Panhard bar has over other types of lateral restraint devices is its simplicity which allows for both easy initial fabrication and adjustment. The primary disadvantage of this system is the small amount of arc that is inherent when the bar swivels around either pivot point.

An alternate design eliminates one universal joint. etc. it attempts to climb the ring gear in the differential housing. but has no connection at the front. Another style of traction bar anchors the bar at the spring like the aforementioned bar. At rest. This wrapunwrap of the spring results in wheel hop and upsets traction of the tire. This rotates the differential housing. then wrap up again. When power is applied to the pinion. The spring will only twist so far. Semi-independent rear suspension Conventional swing axle The most familiar form of this suspension was found in the early Corvairs and early Volkswagens. the front of the bar is fitted with a large egg-shaped rubber bumper that comes up against the bottom of the leaf spring when the spring tries to wrap. Solid axle traction devices Usually a single bar with one end attached to the u-bolts holding the differential housing to the leaf springs and the other end attached to a bracket attached to the front spring eye. with both wheels pivoting about the remaining universal joint. then will attempt to twist in the other direction. the bumper is adjusted so that is is just a fraction of an inch off the bottom of the spring on each side of the car. It's that chirp-chirp-chirp-chirp sound you hear from the tires as they bounce up and down upon acceleration from a stop. then unload again. .welded to the frame or frame member which would place the bar just short of interference on the other side of the car. etc." often resulting in the overturning of the vehicle.. Instead. Major disadvantages were poor camber control and the possibility of "jacking." a situation where the outside wheel "tucks under. changing the pinion angle in relation to the car and also twisting the leaf spring into an "S" shape. The differential unit was solidly mounted to the chassis and each wheel assembly pivoted at a universal joint near the differential. The idea of this arrangement is to prevent leaf spring "wind-up" and resultant wheel hop on acceleration.

with provision for axial motion of the axles to prevent binding. connects the wheel uprights. With the weight of the vehicle on them this resistance to being straightened is what supports the vehicle and keeps the wheels on the ground when going over bumps. De-Dion This design combines the excellent camber control of the beam axle with the reduction of unsprung weight and elimination of driveshaft torque features of the fully independent rear suspension.located below the differential. The differential unit is solidly connected to the chassis and two universal joints and a splined connector are used with each axle.. A coil spring may have the same wire diameter throughout its length or it may be a progressive design with part of the wire diameter smaller than the remainder of the spring coil.for both wheels. These types of springs act like any small coil spring and can have varying spring rates through the use of different wire diameters.. A single piece.Low-pivot swing axle This modification of the swing axle described above provided a single pivot point... . Leaf Spring Curved steel "leaves" are packed together to achieve one unified pack of curved leaves which resists being bent further or straightened. usually consisting of a large diameter tube bent so as to avoid interference with the differential unit. Independent Rear Suspension Coil Spring A large coil type spring which sits in perches on both the suspension components and the frame or frame member.

generally recognized in the auto industry. yet wellcontrolled ride quality. The latest incarnation features a simplified single pumpaccumulator sphere combination. it also has an element of complexity. so automakers like Mercedes-Benz. While the system has inherent advantages over steel springs. The system had one key negative impact on the inventor. which then powers the brakes. The suspension setup is referred to as 'oléopneumatique' in early literature. notably Rolls-Royce. The suspension system usually features driver-variable ride height. suspension and power steering. Citroën .only specialist garages were qualified to work on the cars . Its nitrogen springing medium is approximately six times more flexible than conventional steel. including variable ride firmness (Hydractive) and active control of body roll (Activa). pointing to oil and air as its main components. so self-leveling is incorporated to allow the vehicle to cope with the extraordinary suppleness provided. as well as being adapted by other car manufacturers. France was noted for poor road quality in the post-war years. and Lincoln have sought to create simpler variants. The purpose of this system is to provide a soft.Hydropneumatic suspension Hydropneumatic is a type of automotive suspension system invented by Citroën and fitted to Citroën cars. Similar systems are also used on some military vehicles. . There have been many improvements to this system over the years. British Leyland (Hydrolastic. turning headlamps and even power windows. It was also used on Berliet trucks. to provide extra clearance in rough terrain.making them seem radically different from ordinary cars with common mechanicals. comfortable. Hydragas). It can also power any number of features such as the clutch. This system uses a belt or camshaft driven pump from the engine to pressurise a special hydraulic fluid. Mercedes-Benz and Peugeot. so the only way to maintain relatively high speed in a vehicle was if it could easily absorb road irregularities.

If they are interconnected in the three-dimensional full car model. Can be connected in the pitch plane to improve braking dive and traction squat. typically by adding layers of complexity to an ordinary steel spring mechanical system. potentially giving the 'light' tire more footprint pressure. road input and crosswind. the pressure in one suspension strut equals the pressure in the other through Pascal's law. Inexpensive in mass production. Maintenance for trained mechanic is relatively easy. this provides aerodynamic benefits because of the stable ride-height and extra clearance over rough terrain. . as with the Hydractive arrangement Flexibility in the suspension strut design in the interconnected suspension system to realize desirable vertical.Auto manufacturers are still trying to catch up with the combination of features offered by this 1955 suspension system. Upon body roll. braking/traction. roll and pitch properties for different types of vehicles. for vehicles that would otherwise have a conventional power steering pump. giving precise handling and road-holding (like a sports car) Large loads do not seriously affect the dynamics of the suspension system and handling is not affected thereby. especially for heavy vehicles. the pressure exerted between the tires of the same axle is not subject to the same differential as on some other cars. Compact suspension design. The ride comfort is excellent (the ride is described as floating above the road surface) but the suspension never 'wallows'. Advantages • • • • • • • • • • • The suspension is self-leveling and ride-height is adjustable. Can be conveniently interconnected in the roll plane to improve roll stiffness and thus roll stability limit. hydropneumatic suspension adds no new equipment and in many cases results in a lower unsprung mass. the interconnected hydro-pneumatic suspension could realize enhanced roll and pitch control during excitations arising from steering.

• • • Horizontal orientation of the rear suspension cylinders below the level of the boot floor means that the full width of the boot is available for loads. Sensors in the steering. the failure of suspension completely. if poorly maintained. Failure of the hydraulic system will cause a drop in ride height and. or greater roll resistance for better handling in corners.these computers switched an extra pair of suspension spheres in or out of circuit. Older designs of hydropneumatic suspension systems can lead to significant body roll. throttle pedal and gearbox feed information on the car's speed. However. brakes. possibly. given the widespread goal in the auto industry of an Active Suspension system. This development keeps Citroën in the forefront of suspension design. acceleration. to allow the car a smooth supple ride in normal circumstances. It describes a development of the 1955 Hydropneumatic suspension design using additional electronic sensors and driver control of suspension performance. The driver can make the vehicle stiffen (sport mode) or ride in outstanding comfort (soft mode). suspension. and the brakes will not work. All auto suspension is a . and road conditions to on-board computers. People who are prepared to carry out simple maintenance can acquire a luxury car for a fraction of the cost as hydropneumatic suspension scares potential buyers and dealers Disadvantages • • • • Service requires a specifically trained mechanic. an acute failure will not lead to acute brake failure as the accumulator sphere holds enough reserve pressure to ensure safe braking far beyond that needed to bring a vehicle with a failed system to a standstill Hydractive Hydractive Suspension is a new automotive technology introduced by the French manufacturer Citroën in 1990. Mechanical steel spring suspension systems that try to replicate some of the inherent advantages of hydropneumatic suspension (multilink.and within milliseconds . Where appropriate . Hydropneumatic suspension systems are expensive to repair or replace. adjustable shock absorbers) end up more complex to build and maintain than the straightforward hydropneumatic layout.

One end of the leaf spring must have a shackle which acts as a pivot and allows the spring to change slightly in length while flexing. The concept here is that two leaf springs are attached lengthwise at both ends to the frame. Steering is achieved through steering knuckles on the end of the axle and on 4x4 vehicles power is transmitted through the steering axles to the wheels via universal joints and stub axles which engages the handbrake.compromise between comfort and handling. The centers of the leaf springs are attached to the solid front axle. Auto manufacturers try to Front suspension Over/under A-arm Leaf Spring & Solid Axle This setup is most commonly used in 4x4 vehicles and very old cars. Rear suspension .

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