A Few Important Things to Remember When Choosing a New Suspension System

Posted on: 7 July 2016

The suspension system of your car or truck is what keeps your ride more comfortable; the suspension cushions the vehicle against every bump and dip in the road. Beyond your own comfort, this also protects the parts of the vehicle under the hood, since without a solid suspension system, your vehicle's parts would absorb the impact of all those bumps and would suffer early wear and tear. Upgrading your vehicle's suspension can mean more cushioning for off-roading or for driving on rough roads. When you are ready to upgrade, note a few important things to remember about suspension systems.

Suspension versus lifting system

Note that there is a difference between a suspension system and a lifting system, although some systems work as both. A suspension system absorbs shocks and bumps when on the road but a lifting system may simply give your vehicle added height. Some lifting systems are simply stationary blocks that are put along the suspension system and which push the body of the vehicle up. Note that this doesn't provide any additional cushioning.

Some systems work as both added lift and added suspension. They may include larger and longer shock absorbers that lift the vehicle and also protect it when it dips up and down; however, be sure you understand this difference. Don't assume a lifting kit will mean added shock absorption, and don't assume that bigger shocks will always lift your vehicle. They may simply provide more cushioning but not more height. Your mechanic can note if the suspension system you choose will actually lift your vehicle as well.

Coil springs versus leaf springs

Coil springs are just as the name implies; they are coils that move up and down to absorb the weight of the vehicle as the chassis hits bumps and dips in the road. While these are somewhat standard in suspension systems, leaf springs can be better for when you need even more cushioning. A leaf spring is like a long thin rod, but which is actually stacks that are layered over each other. By stacking the leafs, this spring provides more cushioning in the same area as a coil spring. Each leaf will curve and bend as your vehicle hits a bump or dip in the road, and it isn't until all the leaves compress that you then feel those bumps and dips! For maximum protection with a suspension system, look for leaf springs.


A Lifelong Hobby

When I was a kid, I used to live a few doors down from a garage run by a guy called Alfredo. It was a proper old-fashioned garage, like something out of an old movie: He did everything by hand and took great pride in his work. I hung around there as much as I could get away with, and I learned a lot about cars just by watching them all at work. Eventually, once I turned about 14, he hired me for a weekend job. I didn't keep up that line of work once I left for college, but I've carried the passion behind it with me into adulthood. These days I work alone building and improving my rides rather than fixing other people's, and I figured it was about time I shared some of what I've learned about parts and maintenance.