What is Truck Suspension System: Functions, Types and Working Explained
Truck suspension is an essential component of any heavy-duty vehicle, playing a critical role in ensuring a smooth and comfortable ride, as well as maintaining the stability and safety of the truck.
In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of truck suspension, exploring its functions, various types, and how it works to provide a seamless driving experience for truckers.
What is a Truck Suspension?
Truck suspension, often referred to as the truck suspension system, is a complex assembly of components designed to support the weight of the truck, absorb road shocks, and ensure the stability of the vehicle.
It acts as the intermediary between the truck's tires and the chassis, providing a comfortable ride for the driver and protecting the cargo from excessive jolts and vibrations.
What are the Functions of Truck Suspension?
- Load Bearing: One of the fundamental roles of the suspension system is to support the weight of the truck. This prevents the chassis from sagging or bending under the load, ensuring that the truck remains level and stable.
- Shock Absorption: The suspension system absorbs the shock and impact forces generated as the truck travels. This ensures that the driver and cargo are not subjected to excessive jolts. This is especially crucial for truckers on long journeys who spend extended time driving.
- Traction and Handling: Truck suspension systems play a crucial role in maintaining optimal tire-to-road contact. This directly affects traction and handling, ensuring that the truck maintains control even in adverse driving conditions.
- Safety: Truck suspensions contribute significantly to road safety. They help keep the vehicle stable, preventing rollovers and promoting safe handling in various driving conditions.
How Does Truck Suspension Work?
Let’s understand the inner workings of a truck suspension system and make informed decisions regarding maintenance or upgrades.
- When you run over a bump, the springs in a suspension system often absorb some of the stress, allowing the axle and tires to move independently and lessening the impact on the truck as a whole.
- Without any type of suspension springs, the truck's axle would be bolted straight to the frame, meaning that any minor break in the road would be felt because there would be no structure to cushion the blow.
- When you struck a bump, the tyres would bounce off the pavement, making it impossible for you to steer the truck at all.
- Each and every truck has springs. The springs compress when the vehicle rolls over a bump. After passing over the bump, the springs expand. The vehicle stays level while the tyre travels up and over the bump in this manner.
5 Different Types of Truck Suspension System
The choice of suspension type depends on factors such as the intended use of the truck, load capacity, and desired ride quality. Here are some common types of truck suspensions:
1. Leaf Spring Suspension
- Leaf spring suspension is one of the oldest and most straightforward suspension systems, often found on heavy-duty trucks and commercial vehicles.
- It consists of multiple curved metal strips, called leaves, which are stacked on top of each other. The leaves are secured at both ends, with the top leaf connected to the frame and the bottom leaf connected to the axle.
- Durability: Leaf springs are known for their robustness, making them suitable for trucks carrying heavy loads.
- Simplicity: The design is straightforward, which means lower maintenance costs.
- Uncomfortable Ride: Leaf spring suspensions are not as comfortable as some other options, especially on uneven roads. The primary reason for this discomfort is the inherent stiffness of leaf springs.
- Heavy Weight: Leaf springs consist of multiple layers of metal leaves, which can make them heavier than other suspension. The added weight contributes to increased fuel consumption and may limit the payload capacity of the truck.
2. Torsion Bar Suspension
- Torsion bar suspension utilises a long metal bar, typically made of steel, that is anchored at one end to the truck's frame and connected to the wheel assembly at the other end.
- The torsion bar twists when the truck encounters road imperfections, providing spring-like resistance.
- Compact design: Torsion bar suspensions take up less space than some other systems, providing more flexibility in truck design.
- Improved ride quality: They often provide a smoother ride compared to leaf springs.
- Adjustable: The stiffness of torsion bars can be adjusted to tailor the suspension to specific needs.
- Limited load-carrying capacity: Torsion bars may not be ideal for trucks carrying heavy loads.
- More complex maintenance: Torsion bar suspension systems can be more intricate to service and repair compared to simpler suspension types.
3. Coil Spring Suspension
- Coil spring suspension, as the name suggests, uses coil-shaped springs. These springs are located between the truck's frame and axle, providing cushioning and load support.
- Coil spring suspensions use helical springs to absorb and dissipate road shocks.
- This type of suspension is frequently found in passenger vehicles but is also used in some trucks.
- Comfort: Coil spring suspensions provide a smooth and comfortable ride.
- Handling: They offer excellent handling characteristics and stability.
- Light Weight : Coil springs are generally lighter than some other suspension components, due to which the vehicle will weigh less overall.
- Limited load-carrying capacity: They may not be ideal for heavy-duty trucks.
- Maintenance costs: Coil springs can be more expensive to replace if damaged.
4. Air Ride Suspension
- Air ride suspension, also known as air suspension, relies on airbags to support the truck's weight and absorb road shocks.
- These airbags can be adjusted to vary the ride height and stiffness of the suspension.
- Unlike traditional spring-based suspensions, air ride systems rely on compressed air to provide support and cushioning for the vehicle.
- Adjustable ride height: Air suspensions allow the driver to adjust the truck's ride height, improving ground clearance and aerodynamics.It also maintains a level ride when the truck is loaded or unloaded.
- Excellent ride comfort: They provide a smooth and comfortable ride, even with varying loads.
- Cost and Maintenance: Air suspensions are generally more expensive to purchase and maintain. Repairing air suspensions can be more challenging and costly.
- Vulnerability to leaks: Air suspensions are susceptible to air leaks, which can affect performance.
5. Rubber Spring Suspension
- Rubber spring suspension, also known as rubber-bushing suspension or rubber block suspension, is a unique and less common type of suspension system used in certain trucks.
- Rubber spring suspension systems use rubber components to provide support and damping.
- These systems are known for their flexibility, simplicity and reliability.
- Noise and vibration reduction: Rubber springs are effective at isolating noise and vibrations from the cabin.
- Durability: They are resistant to corrosion and degradation over time.
- Limited load-carrying capacity: Rubber spring suspensions may not be suitable for heavy-duty applications.
- Ride comfort: While they reduce vibrations, they may not provide the same level of comfort as other systems.
Truck suspension is an integral part of any heavy-duty vehicle, responsible for supporting the weight of the truck, ensuring a smooth and comfortable ride, and maintaining stability and control.
Maintenance is a critical aspect of ensuring the longevity and performance of your truck's suspension system. Regular inspections, lubrication, and prompt replacement of worn or damaged parts are key to preserving the suspension's effectiveness.