Suspension dampers – how do they work?

Have you ever imagined what your driving experience would be like without suspension? What a bumpy ride!

Today we investigate how dampers work – a vital part of any suspension system. More commonly called shock absorbers, these hydraulic suspension components keep your car’s springs from bouncing uncontrollably over bumps.  

But do you know what dampers are or how they work?

Dampers control the bouncing movement of the spring by providing resistance – ensuring that the tyres are kept in contact with the road. However, dampers do not support the weight of the car - the springs, another suspension component – do this job.

Inside the damper’s cylinder are valve passages and hydraulic fluid. As the suspension travels up and down, the piston moves inside the cylinder and the flow of fluid is slowed by the valve passages, which control the speed of the piston’s motion. This process controls the movement of the suspension. This is important as the dampers play a role in the handling of your car – from the vehicle’s stability, cornering and handling through to traction and braking.

 Clearly, dampers are an important part of your car – but these are often overlooked and not properly maintained. Often people fail to tell if their car’s dampers need replacing as they wear out over a long period of time – slowly deteriorating. Swerving when braking is a tell tale sign that it’s time to change out worn out dampers.