You might remember a post from a couple of weeks ago where I did 900-odd miles in a Chevy Equinox LT.
The car suspension bible - how car suspension works including shocks, struts, springs, raising and lowering your suspension, different types of suspension, all the technologies involved, DIY car maintenance and much more. This system was favoured by the Americans for years because it was dead simple and cheap to build.
4-bar suspension can be used on the front and rear of vehicles - I've chosen to show it in the "rear" section of this page because that's where it's normally found.
The triangulated design operates on the same principle, but the top two bars are skewed inwards and joined to the rear end housing much closer to the centre.
The de Dion tube - not part of the London underground, but rather a semi-independent rear suspension system designed to combat the twin evils of unsprung weight and poor ride quality in live axle systems. Naturally, the advantages are equalled by disadvantages, and in the case of de Dion systems, the disadvantages would seem to win out. More recently deDion suspension has had somewhat of a renaissance in the specialist sports car and kit car market such as those from Caterham, Westfield and Dax. It follows, that what can be fitted to the front of a car, can be fitted to the rear to without the complexities of the steering gear.
This paragraph may seem a little out of place but I have had a lot of problems with a couple of eBay members (megamanuals and lowhondaprelude) stealing my work, turning it into PDF files and selling it on eBay. A lot of attention and marketing was paid to Ford about their new Control Blade™ rear suspension when it first came out. When it comes to suspension repair or rebuild, you need to have a reliable source for high-quality suspension parts.
You might also remember what an utter turd of a car that thing is.Driving is exhausting, no matter how long or short the journey. The basic idea is the same, but the leaf springs have been removed in favour of either 'coil-over-oil' spring and shock combos, or as shown here, separate coil springs and shock absorbers.
The design of the 4-bar is such that the rear end housing is always parallel to the ground, and the pinion angle never changes. This eliminates the need for the separate panhard bar, which in turn means the whole setup is even more compact.
For example, if the four angled bars go from the axle outboard to the chassis near the centreline, this is called a "Satchell link".
These all uniformly now use outboard brake setups for ease-of-use, and a non-telescoping tube, usually with trailing links and an A-bar forlateral location (rather than a Watts linkage or Panhard rod.) Whilst a properly setup independent suspension system will always win hands-down on poorly maintained roads, when you get on to the track, the advantage is not so clear cut and a well set up deDion system can often match it turn-for-turn now, espeically for flyweight cars. Simplified versions of all the independent systems described above can be found on the rear axles of cars.
Glossy marketing brochures told us how this revolution in rear suspension would make our Ford Focus handle better, grip the road better, and brake better than everything else on the road.
Most suspension systems used in daily drivers have strut towers in the rear of the vehicle - those bumps either side of the boot (trunk). Effectively isolating the handling components of the new IRS from the road noise and impact harshness components of the suspension.".
Because the spring and shock are in different locations, and because of the reduced or removed strut towers, it makes it very difficult to bolt-on aftermarket suspension kits to these vehicles. Nowadays there are hundreds and thousands of automotive shops full of stuff, from brake parts to side mirrors. The page you're reading is free, but if you like what you see and feel you've learned something, a small donation to help pay down my car loan would be appreciated. In a great car, that works well, you never notice the exhaustion because it's normally not anything to be noticed. The drive axle is clamped to the leaf springs and the shock absorbers normally bolt directly to the axle.


Because the leaf springs have been removed, the axle now needs to have lateral support from a pair control arms.
This, combined with the lateral stability of the Panhard Bar, does an excellent job of locating the rear end and keeping it in proper alignment.
First they wanted to separate the various suspension functions from each other - isolating the handling components from the ride qualiy components.
Ford wanted to give more space in the back and needed to find a good way to remove or reduce the size of those towers. For the daily driver, that's probably not an issue but if you're looking at spiffing up the suspension on a Ford Focus for track days or racing, it's not going to be quite so straightforward as it is on other cars. The ends of the leaf springs are attached directly to the chassis, as are the tops of the shock absorbers.
If you were to compare this suspension system on a truck with a 4-link or ladder-bar setup, you'd notice that the rear frame "kick up" of the 4-bar setup is far less severe. Both of the these angled linkages can be reversed to have the angled links below the axle and the parallel links above. Well one of the advantages of not having the differential as part of the suspension is a reduction in weight, so adding more weight back into the system to compensate for the design is a definite distadvantage.
It actually started out its life sometime around 1998 in Ford of Australia and I believe Holden had something to do with it too. With the springs and shock absorbers being mounted separately, Ford have managed to optimise the function of these components.
With Control Blade™, because the shock absorbers are separated from the springs, it opened up a lot more design flexibility. The variation shown here is more compact than the coil-over-oil type, and it means you can have smaller or shorter springs. This, combined with the relatively compact installation design means that it's ideal for cars and trucks where space is at a premium. The roll centre will be lowered with the angled bars under the axle, a function which is difficult to accomplish without this design. With this system, the wheels are interconnected by a de Dion Tube, which is essentially a laterally-telescoping part of the suspension designed to allow the wheel track to vary during suspension movement. Second, the brakes are mounted inboard with the calipers attached to the transfer case, which means to change a brake disc, you need to dismantle the entire suspension system to get the driveshaft out. It's similar in concept to what BMW did with the telelever front suspension on motorbikes (separating braking from suspension forces) only in the Ford system, it separates the springing support of the suspension from the shock reducing functions of the shock absorbers. Ford used a trailing-arm type suspension so that they didn't have swingarms up under the wheel arches and the springs were shortened and moved inboard and underneath.
Looking at the basic design it's not difficult to see that this system has a much lower centre of gravity than a Macpherson strut (for example). Your vehicle's suspension system is meant to provide structural support while maintaining comfortable driving conditions. The main drawback with this arrangement is the lack of lateral location for the axle, meaning it has a lot of side-to-side slop in it. The beam has two integral trailing arms built in instead of the separate control arms required by the solid-axle coil-spring system. The other variation on the "four bars" not shown are the Watts and Jacobs bar linkages to replace the Panhard rod for lateral positioning. This is necessary because the wheels are always kept parallel to each other, and thus perpendicular to the road surface regardless of what the car body is doing. There are two schools of thought as to whether this system is better or worse for handling than, for example, Macpherson struts and a twist axle. In one variation, the shock absorbers still sit vertically but the space they take up now is hugely reduced because they no longer have the coil springs around the outside.


You can expect only quality, reasonably priced performance suspension parts, lowering & lift kits at CARiD that will take your suspension to a new level. Variations on this system can have either separate springs and shocks, or the combined 'coil-over-oil' variety as shown here. This setup means that when the wheels rebound, there is also no camber change which is great for traction, and that's the first advantage of a de Dion Tube.
With coil spring (as shown here) it needs extra lateral location links, such as a panhard rod, wishbones or trailing links. The drive towards 4-wheel independent suspension is primarily to improve ride quality without degrading handling. In the second variation the shock absorber is a subminiature unit mounted inboard of the springs underneath the vehicle. The geometry of the Control Blade™ system also provides significant 'anti-dive' under braking force, which means a the car body will dive less when you jump on the brakes which in turn translates into more well-behaved braking response. CARiD is a one-stop online store stocking reliable, straightforward solutions for any of your suspension requirements. Again - more weight and complexity.de Dion suspension was used mostly used from the mid 60's to the late 70's and could be found on some Rovers, the Alfa Romeo Alfettas (including the sedans and the GTV) and the GTV6, one or two Lancias a smattering of exotic racing cars and budget sports cars or coupes. The control blades themselves are basically the trailing arms which give lateral support and provide the vertical pivot point for the entire unit. Lower C-of-G, less roll and less pitch during braking all add up to better handling.The images used here are currently from other sources as I've not had the time to render up my own just yet, but they show the basic layout of each variation of control blade suspension and I've annotated them accordingly.
This is a diagonal bar which runs from one end the beam to a point either just in front of the opposite control arm (as here) or sometimes diagonally up to the top of the opposite spring mount (which takes up more room). I had to be 100% aware of where the gearbox was about to kick down, where the engine wouldn't have enough power to pull off even a simple overtake. This is to prevent side-to-side movement in the beam which would cause all manner of nasty handling problems. I had to plan way the hell ahead - I had to watch for faster-moving traffic behind that I knew I wouldn't be able to get out of the way of. A variation on this them is the twist axle which is identical with the exception of the panhard rod.
I had to watch to make sure there wasn't an incline ahead that would catch me out mid-overtake.
I had to take account of the damned wind direction because once it got into headwind, 70mph was hard enough and 80 was unattainable. This gives, in effect, a semi-independent system whereby a bump on one wheel is partially soaked up by the twisting action of the beam (in effect, the beam becomes it's own antiroll bar).
I had to make sure there weren't any corners coming up that were more than slight, because the high sidewalls and sloppy handling meant it was a hell of an effort to keep it in-lane when cornering at speed. Yet another variation on this system does away with the springs and replaces them with torsion bars running across the chassis, and attached to the leading edge of the control arms. Well - "at speed" is hard to quantify when it complained like hell the closer I got to 80mph. Anyway - the end result of all of this was that I faceplanted the bed in the hotel room after getting to Vegas and slept for two hours straight - something I've never previously had to do after that drive.
I was mentally shot.Get a car that has a decent amount of power, with good brakes, a comfy seat and tight steering, and you'll enjoy the drive and arrive alert and awake.
Get an utter shitbox like the Chevy Equinox LT and you're risking your life because mentally you'll be at full capacity all the time just trying to drive it.




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