How a Typical Front End Suspension Works With Diagram

by James Clayton
Front End Suspension

Your car’s front suspension is made up of various components that work together to provide adequate ride comfort. The suspension also keeps your car’s tires in contact with the road. Since suspension repair is so common, it helps to understand how a typical front suspension works. That way, the next time your car needs front-end work, you’ll have some knowledge to fall back on.

When the vehicle goes down the road, the springs support the vehicle and absorb the impact of the bumps, while the dampers control the spring oscillations.

How Does a Front Suspension Work

Front suspension operation is quite true. All suspension systems include some type of springs and dampers. When the car goes down the road, springs support the car and absorb impact from bumps, while dampers manipulate the spring oscillations.

The video below explains more about how suspension works:

Most Common Types of Front-End Suspensions

From MacPherson strut to solid axle, many different front suspension designs are used today. The most common preparations include:

1. MacPherson Strut

Nowadays, the most common type of front suspension gadget is the MacPherson strut. The strut assembly (one on each aspect of the automobile) is a point of design interest.

A typical MacPherson strut assembly consists of a damper, coil spring, and a summit mount with the included bearing. Each strut assembly mounts between the steering knuckle and the car frame. The struts serve as the structural part of the suspension gadget, and the top mounts provide the main factor for guiding the vehicle.

2. Modified Double Wishbone

A modified double wishbone (named for the wishbone-shaped lower part of the strut) is another type of strut suspension. With this design, the upper ball joints provide the pivot point for the car’s steering system instead of the strut mount.

3. Modified Strut

There is also another, less common type of strut suspension called a modified strut. Unlike other types of strut systems, the modified design does not incorporate a coil spring into the strut assembly. The coil spring instead sits on the lower control arm.

4. Short/Long Arm (SLA)

Many rear-wheel drive vehicles have short/long arm (SLA) front suspension. With this design, there is a coil spring (with a shock from the middle) located between the two control arms on each side of the vehicle. Since the upper control arms are longer than the lower, the setup is referred to as short arm/long arm front suspension.

5. Solid Axle

Some four-wheel drive vehicles use solid axle front suspension. The layout uses two leaf springs (one on either side of the vehicle) that serve as mounting locations for the front differential (axle) assembly. A shock pair connects the differential housing and the vehicle frame.

6. Torsion Bar

Instead of using leaf springs or coil springs, torsion bar suspension relies on a pair of torsion bars (one on each side of the vehicle) to absorb road shock and support the weight. Each torsion bar attaches to the lower control arm at one end and to the vehicle frame at the other end.

What are the Parts of a Front Suspension

Front Suspension Diagram
MacPherson strut front-end suspension diagram.

There are many different types of front suspension designs in use today. Each type of suspension contains a unique mixture of special additives.

Due to the fact that the McPherson strut is the most unusual form of suspension, we’re going to focus on components that are common to that layout next.

An average MacPherson strut front suspension device consists of the following components:

Strut Assemblies

The car may have a front strut meeting on either side. Each acts as a structural part of the suspension and provides a high pivot point for the auto’s steering. A standard MacPherson strut assembly consists of an internally connected damper with a coil spring.

The coil spring absorbs the road shock and supports the weight of the car, while the damper limits the oscillations from the coil spring. The strut assembly also has a higher mount, which includes a bearing that allows the strut to rotate, and a dust boot that protects the damper from dirt and particles.

Control Arms and Ball Joints

The control arms allow the suspension to be moved up and down when traveling on road bumps. Each control arm has bushings that allow it to move with minimal friction.

A typical control hand has a ball joint that connects the control arm to the steering knuckle. The ball joint also acts as a lower pivot point for the steering knuckles when the driver turns the front wheels of the car.

Steering Knuckles

Behind each front wheel of an automobile is a steering knuckle. Each steerage knuckle connects to the lowest part of the strut assembly on one side and to the ball joint lug on the other side. On most vehicles, the outer tie rods are attached to the sides of the knuckles.

The steering knuckle additionally offers increased proximity to the wheel hub, which supports the wheels and tires. When the driving force turns the steering wheel, the tie rod pulls or pushes on the guide knuckles, causing the wheels to move in or out.

Sway Bar and End Links

Most cars have a type of torsion spring, known as a sway bar, that attaches to each lower control arm. When the vehicle is cornering, you get the sway bar turns to save frame roll and improve handling. Sway bars provide maximum stability when visiting road bumps.

At each end of the sway, there is a closed link that is attached to the control arm or strut assembly. Additionally, sway bars have bushings at the points where they are attached to the frame of the automobile.

The following video explains how the different parts of the strut suspension gadget work collectively:

How is a Front End Suspension Diagnosed?

Common symptoms associated with worn front suspension components include:

  • unusual noise from the chassis
  • abnormal tire wear
  • a rough ride
  • front end shimmy
  • Steering performance reduction

Most professional technicians will begin diagnosing the steering system by taking a look at the avenue and reiterating the buyer’s concern. From there, they can usually place the vehicle on a hoist to conduct a visual inspection.

If there is no observed problem, the technician will usually proceed to use one or more diagnostic strategies to determine the problem. For example, let’s say a patron complains of a clunking noise when riding over bumps.

If so, the technician can use a pry bar to check various suspension components for excessive speed that may be causing strange noises.

Most professional technicians will begin diagnosing the steering system by reiterating the customer’s concern with a road test and usually placing the vehicle on a hoist to perform a visual inspection.


How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Front End Suspension?

The cost of front suspension repair will depend on which components inside the gadget need to be replaced. Additional factors, including the car you push, will also add to the cost. If you need a complete front suspension rebuild, you can count on paying several thousand bucks to have a specialist give you the results you want. Of course, when you have the tools and the know-how, you can make a lot of money doing this process yourself.

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