Suspension and Steering

Suspension system

Car suspension systems come in two different designs — independent and solid (live) axle. Most cars use an independent suspension system, where each wheel moves up or down independently without affecting the other wheels. Some cars and most trucks use a solid axle suspension in the rear, where the axle moves up and down like a seesaw and the movement of one wheel causes a corresponding movement in the other wheel.

Vehicles with independent suspension systems offer a more comfortable ride and have better handling characteristics. Solid axle systems are stronger, less expensive to build and have more load bearing capacity, but offer a rougher ride.

Steering system

The two most common types of steering systems are rack-and-pinion (used on most cars) and recirculating ball (used on trucks and utility vehicles). The rack-and-pinion system is similar to the independent suspension system in that it offers better control and handling. The recirculating ball system, like the solid axle system, is stronger and more robust, which is better suited for larger vehicles and trucks.

Struts and shocks

Shock absorbers dampen the impact the suspension receives when the vehicle goes over rough or uneven road surfaces. A suspension strut — also referred to as a MacPherson strut — combines a shock absorber and coil spring into one assembly. This reduces the weight of the components and saves space, providing a lighter and more compact suspension system. More »

Rack and pinion steering gear

Most cars use a rack-and-pinion steering system in which the steering wheel turns a steering shaft that's connected to a pinion gear. This gear moves a steering rack left and right. The rack has two arms attached to it called tie rods, which connect to the steering arm and help steer the wheels. More »

Related system: Power steering

Power steering systems use hydraulic or electric power to exert extra force on the steering gear, which makes steering almost effortless for the driver. This is especially helpful at low speeds and while parking. More »

Additional key parts

Coil spring, Control arm, Sway bar, Sway bar end links, Tie-rod ends, Intermediate shaft, Steering column

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