It’s beyond our imagination that we’ve gone from horse and carriage as the only form of transport to the invention of four-by-fours with luxury leather interiors and automotive suspension. But have you ever wondered how these cars have actually evolved to where they are now?
In this post, we’ll cover where automotive suspension began, how it has revolutionised driving since it was first created and some of the best technologies to help improve your much-loved car’s performance.
The History of Automotive Suspension
Believe it or not, the first car was created back in the late 1700s; however, this was a steam-powered car which had to be self-propelled, so it’s safe to say that no useful suspension was involved there! So, let’s face it, these high-tech cars wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the invention of the first official car (The Motorwagen), powered by an actual engine and gasoline, invented by the famous Karl Benz in 1886. Bet you didn’t think that the lavish Mercedes-Benz motors you see driving around today date back to the 19th century!
Even though cars were around as early as they were, it wasn’t until the early 1900s where suspension became known to drivers. You’re probably wondering how safe the roads really were back then, but this is exactly why automotive suspension didn’t become a thing until the 20th century! The first automobile featured front coil springs and shock absorbers which didn’t require any lubrication like the original leaf springs did. It might be hard to believe, but this was an improvement from what people were out on the road in before-hand. The coil springs made it a painful enough journey, let alone the leaf springs that were used before-hand!
However, as basic as coil springs were, putting them together with state-of-the-art shock absorbers was another story! By 1931, the first Mercedes-Benz 170 with a fully industrial swing axle suspension was created which was when ride comfort and safety was born, and consistent punctures were no more. So now it makes sense where Mercedes gets their reputation for exceptionally comfortable and safe vehicles from!
How Has Suspension Technology Revolutionised Driving?
Shock Absorbers & Struts
You might be wondering how something created over a century ago is still being used today in our supercharged motors, but trust me, they have been modified a tonne since then! The first shock absorbers were pretty much a lever with a piece of rubber between the frame and leaf spring and were known to provide a “magnificent” ride – doesn’t sound too hopeful, does it?
Whether your car has shock absorbers or struts (similar to shocks but used on front-wheel drives) to help improve automotive suspension, you’ll find them bolted inside a coil spring. The most technically advanced shock absorbers will be what are in your car today with the main goal to prevent your tyres leaving the ground, giving the most effortless and controlled journey you’ll ever have. Gone are the days of bouncing down the country roads like a rabbit.
Shocks today feature small holes to allow oil through, dampening the motion of your tyres to provide that well-needed lubrication for a smooth ride. They also include valves, electronics and magnetism so whether you’re a racer at heart or a more leisurely driver, they’ll be sure to meet your needs! If you’re a sports car fanatic, you’ll love to hear that some cars feature sport mode buttons that you can simply press to help avoid those interruptions on the road.
As much as technology has revolutionised driving over time, some of the first cars even used electronic sensors in the bumper to adjust the ride from hard, medium or soft depending on the condition of the road, and this innovation is still being used in models today so you won’t even have to think about comprehending damage from the beastly pothole!
As ground-breaking as air suspension is, it’s mainly only used in sports utility vehicles (SUVs) because of its high costs. So if you’re wondering whether your family seven-seater car has it, the answer is definitely a no! You might have been thinking that the technology in vehicles couldn’t be improved any further than they already have been, but you’re wrong.
As ingenious as shock absorbers are, they’re just not enough for top-speed SUVs going at full tilt, so this is when air suspension revolutionised sport vehicles. Steel springs were replaced with firm airbags which can be adjusted with a compressor depending on driver preference. If you thought that was as high-tech as it got, some cars even have built-in GPS so the suspension is automatically adjusted when you’re at the next corner! Clever, right?
What Technologies Can Improve My Car’s Suspension?
Active Curve Titling
If you’re a motorcyclist owner, you might think curve tilting is the norm, but it certainly isn’t for car owners! However, a technology that could change your mind is active curve tilting, first created in the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG Coupe. The model uses an acceleration sensor with a camera which predicts corners and uses air suspension to tilt the car. This might not increase the performance of your vehicle, but it most definitely will improve its comfort!
Hydraulic Roll Control
Known to Audi owners as Dynamic Ride Control, Hydraulic Cross-Linked Suspension sends fluid to the opposite side of the car, rather than steel antiroll bars which get in the way and can impact your car giving you that smooth ride that you want!
Remember when we mentioned that well-needed lubrication for your shock absorbers? Well, magnetic dampers are pretty much a version of a shock absorber, and by varying their electric current through fluid containing iron, they adjust their stiffness in response to the road’s conditions.
Is There a Future For Automotive Suspension?
According to The Engineer, a medical engineering student from Lancaster University has developed a never-seen-before method of improving automotive suspension even further. The 20-year-old’s invention features a delay in compression and expansion and is said to be suitable for use in pretty much everything that involves a shock absorber or damping system! So could this be the next cutting-edge technology? We are definitely excited to see where it goes!
Where Can I Find More Information On Improving My Car’s Suspension?
At TUX Auto, we understand how important both the interior and the exterior of your vehicle is when it comes to suspension, so for more information about what wheels or coilovers will be best, visit our website or call us today on 01274 864457.