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Posted on Aug 24, 2020
Adjustable car suspension or adjustable shock absorbers can mean two things. Adjusting the driving height of the car or changing the driving characteristics. Ride height adjustment systems are usually added to the rear of vehicles to raise the rear of the car and even it out when heavily loaded. Adjustable shock absorbers can adversely affect handling and braking if the rear of the car is lower than the front, so it's clear how useful this system is.
Height control systems can be located at all four corners, usually installed on luxury SUVs. In addition to compensating for various loads, the four corner systems can lift the vehicle up, providing extra ground clearance which is good for off-road riding in rough terrain. Why not just set a higher ride height permanently? The higher center of gravity with the raised vehicle is not optimal for cornering at higher speeds on smooth surfaces, so adjustable ride height is less of a compromise.
There are many ways to adjust your ride height. The least complicated thing is integrating the airbags into the rear shock absorbers and installing a small compressor in the vehicle that increases air pressure when higher altitude is needed. Some systems replace the coilover springs with airbags, re-adjusting air pressure to change the car's level. Most involved are hydraulic systems where oil is pumped under high pressure to a suspension component, usually a main part known as a strut, which changes the ride height. The rear 'lever' systems are usually automatic, using a sensor to detect whether the car is low or high; the driver selects four corners.
The second system can change the driving characteristics of the vehicle by changing the response of the shock absorbers to road movements. Stiffer shock absorbers give you a better feel when you want the car to change direction but the trade-off is the more difficult ride quality. Adjustable shock absorbers are a way around this problem. At its most basic, a shock absorber is simply a tube filled with oil with a piston moving up and down inside the tube. The amount of damping is set by valves in the piston that control the speed at which the oil flows through the piston. Leaking less oil means stiffer shocks, and passing more oil means less damping and a softer ride.
The methods of adjusting the shock absorbers vary widely, from something as simple as a knob or screw on the shock itself for manual adjustment, to highly advanced systems with sensors that tell the vehicle speed, yaw rate, steering angle, steering wheel speed, and vertical movement. body and speed to the ECU, which sends a signal to each individual shock absorber, electronically adjusting the valves to the driving conditions. Typically, electronically controlled systems have a cockpit switch that allows the driver to select various settings, such as sport or comfort.
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There are many forms of adjustable dampers and coils, ranging from single adjustment compression to dual and triple adjustment settings. Most consumer or OEM replacement shocks will be single or double adjustable. These types of shock absorbers allow you to fine-tune in flight for performance requirements and return to regular commuting with the twist of a knob.
A single compression-only adjustment controls how a soft or strong shock absorber responds to the action of compression (speed bump, terrain obstacle). This type of adjustment increases road feel and control of the vehicle off-road or reduces body roll and street diving.
If performance is your goal, dual speed control allows you to adjust compression at both low and high speed, which is especially important on off-road vehicles. Some shock absorbers have a rebound adjustment that controls the amount of force the shock absorber will press to help keep the tire in contact with the ground.
The shock absorbers, which offer single or double adjustment options, will allow the rider to fine-tune the ride in flight without having to disassemble it. Typically consisting of a low speed control knob and a high speed control knob, both of these adjustments change the degrees of compression at different speeds.
The driver wants his vehicle to maintain a flatter profile when cornering in order to reduce body roll or a forward dive, perhaps because of a desire for a sportier feel or to add weight to the vehicle. Increasing the compression ratio of the damper will reduce the compression ratio of the damper during cornering or braking.
• Towing / Pulling
The driver wants to make sure that the rear of his truck / SUV / vehicle does not sway or bounce excessively under heavy load. Increasing the compression of the damper through adjustments will help the rear leaf springs or coil springs control the weight and energy of the rear end. The shocks can then be released from the compressive stiffness and softened when the vehicle is unloaded and under normal commuting/driving conditions.
The driver moves from the pavement to the dirt tracks maintaining a good pace but not slow (30-50mph). Higher shock compression settings will help absorb the harder impacts of burms, woops, and unexpected obstacles that create high impact force on the shock.
The higher compression settings also help to handle a load of heavier kits with additional camping / sporting gear, reducing body roll and swaying both front and rear. A vehicle without compression adjustment and maintaining the same driving habits may be at risk of losing grip in curves with obstructions, driving in a straight line with sudden changes of terrain and other unexpected large impacts that temporarily remove the tire from the ground.
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