Chassis and Suspension Systems


Chassis and Suspension SystemsSuspension

One of the questions we are regularly asked at Horsepower for an Hour is “How important is the Chassis and Suspension in a custom build?” The short answer is, it’s equally important.

Tire contact pointYou can have all the power under the sun but if you cannot safely control it, chances are good you and/or others may be seriously injured or killed. Our race correspondent Jim Naylor covers this topic frequently on our weekly National Radio Broadcast “Horsepower for an Hour“.  All the forces of the moving vehicle, whether they’re lateral or linear come down to four small surfaces about the size of your hand. These four small patches (or what design engineers refer to as the “Footprint”) are the tire contact surfaces…it’s where the rubber meets the road and using these surfaces as effectively as possible is the primary purpose of the suspension.

John Force tire fails causing serious injury

john forceIf one or more tires loses contact with the road, even for a short period of time, no steering, braking, or acceleration can occur and that’s when bad things can happen. Ask John Force, he experienced a life threatening crash back in 2007 when his Top Fuel Funny Car hit the wall after his right rear tire failed Click here to watch video Kenny Bernstein also crashed but it was John Force who suffered serious injury. John has been a guest on our program several times and no one understands suspensions better than he and his crew.

It’s common to see and hear of folks who may be new to the automotive industry pay little or no attention to suspension concerns. Many builders out there are overly focused on engine and transmission type considerations and fail to address the chassis at all.

During our research we found the ZF corporation to be one of the leaders in suspension design and manufacturing. Many people (us included) often associate ZF with complex transmission designs and while that is definitely one of their forte’s in the automotive world, they are certainly no strangers to the chassis.

Take time to learn the systems of your vehicle

suspension_checkWe’ve learned over the years that most drivers take their cars for granted. Most times, as long as the cars doesn’t have some sort of major breakdown, drivers won’t bother to acquaint themselves with how the systems of their cars work. Why is it important to know how the systems of your car work? We’re glad you asked, there may be an occasion when you will be forced to trouble shoot some problem with your car or truck, If you have some idea on how the systems of a vehicle work, it will be much easier to figure out what may be wrong.

A basic understanding of chassis and suspension is highly recommended because suspension problems cost money, and we don’t just mean in terms of repair. Suspension issues can significantly reduce fuel economy and cause premature tire wear and/or failure.

Horsepower for an Hour radio broadcast

studio 7Contact us anytime for more details with respect to any system on your vehicle or just tune in to our weekly Horsepower for an Hour broadcast.  Knowledge is one of the most useful tools a person can own, make certain your tool chest has all you need.

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About Author

Donny is a Southern California specialty shop owner with primary emphasis on transmission and differential systems. He is an automotive technology graduate with over 30 years of experience. He and his wife own DMC Transmission outside of Los Angeles and were awarded “Shop of the Year” honors in 2010 and 2011.

Email Donny

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