August 09, 2013

Beginners guide to suspension tuning

The suspension in your car performs a vital function. If it wasn't there to protect you, driving would become almost impossible because the vehicle would be shaking so much. Even the best roads will have dips and bumps, but it is the suspension our car that creates
the feeling of driving on a smooth surface. The suspension also prevents the vehicle from being shaken apart. If you want to your car to be able to perform at peak performance, it will be a good idea to learn a bit about suspension tuning.

Important terms used to describe suspension tuning
 There is a fair bit of jargon used when talking about suspension tuning, and it is worth explaining just a few of these words before we proceed any further:
> Handling refers to your car's ability to turn corners, accelerate, and brake
> The word 'ride' is usually used to describe the car's ability to deal with bumps in the road
> Road isolation is your car's ability to absorb bumps so that you experience a smooth ride
> Road holding is the ability of your car to stay in contact with the road surface
> Camber angle refers to the angle of the wheels in relation to the vehicle
> Suspension kits are used to change the dynamics of your cars suspension - for example, you can purchase a kit to lower your car
> A sway bar is there to reduce rolling of your vehicle when you turn corners
> Springs absorb the bumps in the road so that you enjoy a smooth ride
> Dampers are designed to release the energy from any bump in the road
> Shock absorbers are able to absorb any excess upward energy from a bump that is not removed by the springs

The basics of suspension tuning
The goal of suspension tuning is to modify the different parts of the car's suspension system in order to achieve maximum performance. This is easier to understand when we think about the way a car works. The purpose of the engine is to provide you with the power you need to move fast, and it is the purpose of the suspension to help you control this power.

The exact impact of suspension tuning this will depend on the part that is being tuned. Overall, the goal will be to maximise the amount of friction that is created between the tyres and the surface of the road. Here are just some of the most common ways to tune the suspension:
> By making shock absorbers stiffer, it changes the way the car's weight will shift when cornering
> Changing the camber angle can impact cornering, acceleration, and braking
> If you make your sway bars stiffer, it will reduce the amount of roll you experience while turning a corner
> You can lower the centre of gravity of the car by shortening the springs
> You can use suspension kits to significantly change the performance of your car or to lower or higher the centre of gravity

- Jane Fonda

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