The word “suspension” first appears in English in the 1520s. The verb suspend was first recorded in the 1200s and is derived from the Latin verb suspendere, which means “to hang up.”
Leaf springs have been around since the time of the ancient Egyptians. Initially, ancient military engineers used leaf springs in the shape of bows to power their siege engines, with limited success. Years later, the use of leaf springs in catapults was refined and made to work. Springs were not only made of metal; a sturdy tree branch, such as with a bow, could also be used as a spring. This system was used in horse-drawn carriages and the Ford Model T, and it is still used in larger vehicles today, primarily at the rear suspension. The first workable spring suspension required advanced metallurgical knowledge and skill, and it was only with the advent of industrialisation that it became possible. An early form of suspension on ox-drawn carts was a platform swing, attached with iron chains onto the carriage’s wheeled frame. The iron chains were replaced by leather straps called “thoroughbraces” by the 17th century, but this system remained the foundation for most suspension systems until the turn of the 19th century.
Leaf springs first appeared on certain types of carriages, such as the Landau, around 1750. By the middle of the nineteenth century, elliptical springs might also be used on carriages. Obadiah Elliott was the first to file a patent for a spring-suspension vehicle; each wheel had two durable steel leaf springs on each side, and the carriage’s body was attached directly to the springs, which were attached to the axles. Within a decade, the majority of British horse carriages had springs; wooden springs in the case of light one-horse vehicles to avoid taxation, and steel springs in larger vehicles.
Mors of Paris was the first to install shock absorbers in an automobile in 1901. Henri Fournier won the prestigious Paris-to-Berlin race on 20 June 1901, thanks to his vehicle’s damped suspension system. The Brush Runabout, manufactured by the Brush Motor Company, was the first vehicle to use coil springs. Coil springs are now used in the majority of automobiles. Torsion bars were used in a suspension system by Leyland Motors in 1920.Independent front suspension was pioneered on the Lancia Lambda in 1922, and it became more common in mass-market cars starting in 1932. In 2002, the inerter, a new passive suspension component, was invented by Smith, Malcolm C. Using a geared flywheel, has the potential to increase the effective resistance of wheel suspension without significantly increasing mass. It was first used in Formula One in secret, but has since spread to other motorsports.
Most modern automobiles have independent suspension on all four wheels. Your 4X4 suspension’s elastic components include springs, leaf springs, and torsion bars. These components’ function is to provide an elastic connection between the body and the road surface. The springs bear the entire weight of your 4X4, and their elasticity keeps the body at a constant height. The metal of the elastic elements wears out during operation and large overloads, causing their rigidity to change. Such changes have a negative impact on the overall performance of the suspension—the wheel angle changes, the ground clearance decreases, and the carrying capacity decreases. The main indication that the springs need to be replaced is sagging of the body in an unloaded state. Any four-wheel-drive (4WD/AWD) vehicle requires suspension for both the front and rear wheels.
Other types of suspension include:
- Air Suspension
- Hydraulic Suspension.
- Pneumatic Suspension
- Independent (helical) suspension
- Push-rod and pull-rod suspension
Despite the variety of designs, any suspension option should perform the main functions:
- Damping vibrations and strong shocks that occur when driving on uneven terrain.
- Ensures maximum wheel grip on the road surface and eliminates the role of your 4X4 body during cornering.
- Improving vehicle handling by holding the steering wheel in a specific position.
A rigid suspension type gives your 4X4 good handling at high speeds, eliminates body roll when cornering, and reacts quickly to driver actions. Despite all of the benefits of a rigid suspension, passenger comfort during the trip is not one of them. The ability to smooth out body vibrations is reduced due to the rigidity, so adjusting the spring tension of the shock absorber struts makes sense.
Your 4X4’s suspension is made up of several other basic parts, starting with the tires. Because of their elasticity, the tires can dampen a small amount of vibration during movement. Your vehicle has many other pliable elements that work together. For instance, compression buffers are required to dampen high-frequency vibrations and vibrations caused by metal-on-metal contact. It is critical to keep an eye on their condition and replace worn-out parts on time. Ball joints, silent blocks, and bolted joints are among the fastening elements that connect the rest of the vehicle’s suspension elements.
With so many parts working together to smoothen your ride, maintenance on these should not be neglected. Let us give your 4×4 a thorough look-over before your next adventure. Contact our workshop to book a service or repairs: https://n14x4.co.za/rmi-workshop/
N1 4X4 is one of South Africa’s biggest suppliers of new, used & reconditioned parts for Cruisers and Toyota 4WD’S.