When considering the critical systems of a vehicle, the suspension system often gets overlooked. Most drivers take for granted that the shocks and struts and other components will simply do their job indefinitely and do not require preventative maintenance and regular auto care. Of course, this assumption is not only wrong, but can lead to disastrous consequences.
The suspension system is, quite literally, the system responsible for keeping a vehicle on the road. Without this system functioning properly, vehicles would careen off the roads by the second; assuming they did not first break into pieces due to the stresses that would be imposed on a rigid framed vehicle.
The suspension is responsible for absorbing or distributing all road forces applied to your vehicle. A properly tuned system makes turning and cornering at speed easier. It distributes the weight of the vehicle under cornering in order to keep all four tires in relative positive contact with the road surface. It also isolates the body from the bulk of vibrations and shocks generated in the vehicle from road conditions or hazards. These systems can also be an important factor in braking efficiency. The more your vehicle is allowed to sway and rock forward under braking, the longer it will take to complete an emergency stop. The control of the vehicle dynamics is accomplished in concert with the steering system, making the two systems critical to vehicle stability.
Most modern vehicle suspensions are composed of shock absorbers paired with a coil spring or leaf spring in light duty trucks. The shocks are often hydraulically controlled from an onboard computer that monitors forces at each wheel and adjusts pressure in each corner as appropriate. The other standard components include the ball joints and control arms. These components work in conjunction with the steering system. In some performance vehicles and SUVs, sway bars are also common. It is vital that the proper auto care and preventive maintenance is applied to these systems in order to maintain the performance and safety you expect.