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A to Z of Car Tech: S is for suspension and supercharging

The letter S in our A to Z of car tech series explains suspension systems and supercharging

The technology contained within the modern motor car can be both fascinating and slightly baffling. Most such technology exists to make our cars safer, more efficient and just better than ever to drive but some of it can be quite confusing for the average motorist. In this A to Z series we will attempt to unravel the mystery of technology that is the modern motor car. This week, we’re visiting the letter S…

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S is for…suspension. The suspension system in a vehicle is effectively what connects the tyres to the chassis. The tyres are mounted to the wheel, the wheel is connected to whatever form of suspension is being used, and the suspension system is then connected to the chassis, all of which sounds incredibly simple but which isn’t – at all – because all manner of suspension systems are used in all manner of vehicles.

Some that have struts and coil springs, some that have double wishbones and coil springs, others that have multiple links and coil springs at one end with struts and coil springs at the other. And some even use the magic of air to suspend and control the shocks that are encountered by the tyres of a vehicle as it moves across the terrain.

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In all vehicles, however, the suspension will feature some kind of a damper in the system somewhere, which works in conjunction with whatever suspension design is being used to absorb and control those shocks first encountered by the tyres. The suspension of a vehicle is often what provides that vehicle with its strongest sense of personality to whoever is behind the wheel.

S is for… supercharging. In simple terms a supercharger is a device that compresses air before it goes into a combustion engine so that more oxygen is provided, to enable that engine to burn more fuel and, ultimately, to produce more power. The supercharger itself is driven by the engine, and this power can be provided by a number of means – by connection via a belt, or a shaft, or even a chain connected to the crankshaft.

The difference between supercharging and turbocharging is that in a turbocharged engine the power is provided by the engine’s exhaust, so the benefits are felt momentarily after the combustion process, not before as in supercharging. Hence the old fashioned term ‘turbo lag’.

Next, the letter T…

A-Z of car tech
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