Are you planning on purchasing a new vehicle and are you trying to learn if this car has double wishbone suspension or a MacPherson strut? If that is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic.
- Car Suspension
- Suspension Types
- Double Wishbone
- Pros & Cons
- VS MacPherson
- Suspension Kit
Doing the proper research before you go out there on the market and purchase a car is a good idea. Nowadays modern cars have independent suspension that is far superior to the old designs. And this superiority is present in all aspects. The new ways of implementing suspensions have changed the car world.
Nowadays cars are really safe and also really good drivers. Back in the day driving a car was not a pleasure but a real struggle. And driving fast was out of the question. Modern cars thanks to these types of suspension designs handle like a dream and are easily controllable. But what are the different types of suspensions and their pros and cons? Well, more on that in the next chapters.
First, we will cover the basics of what is a vehicle suspension and learn more about the basics. Then we will move on to the different types of suspensions and we will list their characteristics. After we will cover the double wishbone suspension and its pros and cons. Then we will compare it to the MacPherson strut since these two are the most popular suspension types nowadays. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
What Is Car Suspension?
Now before we dive into the types of car suspensions, let’s first focus more on the basics and that is what is a car suspension in general and what components this system is consisted of? I bet that there are a ton of people who are reading this and cannot distinguish these systems the right way so this chapter is dedicated to them.
Nevertheless, a car suspension is a complex system of components. This system has a few goals to achieve in order to deliver the best result for you as a driver.
The first goal is to keep the chassis of your vehicle level with the wheels and not allow any deformation, crumbling down of the chassis, and damage to the chassis as a consequence of these deformations. That is the number one priority, to keep the chassis level and make sure that it holds the body of the car evenly.
The second goal of the suspension is to make sure that the driver has good handling characteristics and control of the car 100% of the time. The suspension needs to be really adaptable and adapt to different types of conditions that are out there.
And the last goal is the ride quality of the car. The suspension needs to insulate the driver and the occupants from the conditions of the road and deliver comfort in any condition.
What is also worth noting is that the designs of the front and rear suspension might be quite different from one another. Since they try to achieve different things. The front suspension focuses on handling while the rear on comfort. Now before we cover the double wishbone suspension let’s learn more about the types of suspensions.
Types Of Suspension
Now before we cover the double wishbone suspension we need to list all of the types of suspension that are out there.
Knowing the types of suspension that are there, you will be able to learn what fits your bill and what doesn’t. What is important to note is that there are two main types of suspension. The first type is the dependent suspension and the second type is the independent suspension.
One of these suspension types has various subtypes and we are going to list them all in the following chapters. So, you don’t want to miss that.
Now before we cover the double wishbone suspension, let’s cover the first type of suspension design. The first type that we are going to cover is the dependent suspension. This type of suspension is also known as a solid axle suspension, or beam axle as some people would call it.
This type of suspension is that it is a solid tubular design in which there is a solid axle that rotates. This tubular design housing makes this type of suspension really rigid and it is used on a ton of off-road applications, trucks, and other heavy equipment. They were used also on cars until recently but nowadays they have already been replaced by the independent suspension design.
What is worth noting is that it has two small subtypes. The first subtype is the dead axle. This is a type of solid axle that is basically dead, it doesn’t deliver power to the wheels because it doesn’t have a differential.
The second type is the live axle. The live axle implements a differential and delivers power to the wheels. You could differentiate the two of them by observing the suspension. You will notice a big round housing on the live axle that has a big cover with many bolts, behind this cover is the differential that rotates this axle.
What is worth noting when it comes to this type of axle is that it is relatively rigid and does not deliver great handling. So, even though it was the gold standard for a lot of decades in American cars, a lot of carmakers have ditched it in place of the independent suspension one from which the double wishbone design comes from. And more on that in the following chapters.
Now before we elaborate more on the double wishbone suspension, let’s first learn about the independent suspension. If you didn’t know, the double wishbone suspension is a subtype of the independent suspension. But what is an independent suspension in general?
Well, an independent suspension is a suspension type that works independently. This means that the two wheels are not connected to each other like in the case with the dependent solid axle suspension. This design language really improves the ride quality and adjustability of these designs. This is why independent suspension is so popular nowadays.
But what is also worth noting is that there are a few different ways of approaching this challenge. And in the following few chapters, we are going to cover them in-depth. So, if you want to learn more about the double wishbone suspension, follow along.
1. Torsion Bar
The first type of independent suspension that we are going to cover before we learn more about the double wishbone suspension is the torsion bar suspension.
What is worth noting is that this type of suspension is neither a solid axle suspension nor a fully independent suspension. It just sits somewhere in the middle but still, it is somewhat more on the independent side than on the dependent one. You will understand why we are saying this in a bit where we will explain how this type of suspension work.
What is worth noting is that this type of suspension is largely replaced by the MacPherson strut design and now there are only a handful of cars that are using a torsion bar suspension. More notably older pickup trucks and SUVs.
So, it is highly likely that you will see this type of suspension on older classic muscle cars and other cars from that era. But how the torsion bar works?
Well, it is quite a simple design actually. This design consists of lower and upper control arms. Then on each lower control arm, there are torsion bars that go under the car where they are bolted onto a large metal beam that sits horizontally in the chassis.
This heavy beam holds the weight of the front end of the car and makes it nice and stable. So, when a lot of people want to adjust this type of suspension they play with the torsion bars and adjust them to get the result they want.
Still, though it is really limited in comparison to the double wishbone suspension and the MacPherson strut that we are going to cover next.
2. MacPherson Strut
The second type of independent suspension that we are going to cover before we discuss the double wishbone suspension is the MacPherson strut.
The MacPherson strut is one of the most popular designs that are out there. Nowadays it is so mainstream that 99% of the cars that roll off the production line are using it. And that tells you quite a lot about this type of suspension.
It was first introduced in the 1950s but it took quite a long time to become the standard that we see nowadays when it comes to car suspension.
This system is really simple in design and really effective at the same time. This design basically has the upper control arm and the shock absorber into a single unit that is known as a strut. Then at the bottom, there is the lower control arm.
So, you get where we are going with this. Since it has two main components, this suspension type is really straightforward and really cheap to make.
Not to mention that it significantly improves the ride quality of the car in comparison to some of the older designs of independent suspension like the torsion bar that we covered previously. Now before we cover the double wishbone suspension let’s cover another type of independent suspension.
3. Multi Link Suspension
Now before we learn more about the double wishbone suspension, let’s take a look at another suspension type. And this type of suspension is the multi link suspension.
This type of suspension is far most complex than all of the suspension types that we have covered until now because it implements a ton of different components that constitute this type.
The multi link design is used both with the independent types of suspension and also with the dependent solid axle. This is the case because it offers a ton of adjustability and performance. Especially when it comes to tackling uneven terrain and delivering great comfort for the passengers.
As its name implies, it implements a multi link approach. There are more than two arms that are in this type of suspension. There is a trailing arm, a lower and upper arm. Then there is a control arm as well as a leading arm. Starting from two links and up to five links in the most complex suspensions.
This is the type of suspension that most modern cars are using as a rear-mounted suspension. Using a multi link suspension at the front is not that feasible since it is rather complex and expensive to maintain. The MacPherson strut and the double wishbone are usually mounted at the front while the multi link suspension is at the rear.
It is also quite popular in the car world. Mainly because it is really good for off-road builds as well as builds for the race track. Now let’s move to the last type of suspension and that is the main type that we would like to focus on, which is the double wishbone suspension.
4. Double Wishbone Suspension
Now let’s move on to the last type and most important type of suspension and the most important type for us. Which is the double wishbone suspension.
This suspension is a double A-arm suspension that is very popular because it delivers quite a bit of performance. This is why it is used on a lot of high-performance cars as a front suspension. As you know, a lot of carmakers that produce sports cars or hypercars are focusing on this type of suspension because it delivers a lot.
It is also used on other applications out there. Mainly pickup trucks or SUVs that need that rigidity to tackle some uneven terrains as well as to deliver a great performance when it comes to towing capability and other truck uses.
So, if you have a pickup truck, you very likely have a double wishbone suspension at the front and a solid axle with leaf springs at the rear.
The double wishbone suspension replaced the torsion bar suspension that we covered in chapter number one. Mainly because it delivers a lot more than the previous one. But how the double wishbone suspension works? Let’s elaborate more on that next.
How Does Double Wishbone Suspension Work?
Now let’s learn more about how double wishbone suspension works. As we noted this type of suspension is also called double A-arm suspension. But why is this the case?
Well, this is the case because it implements two control arms. An upper control arm and a lower control arm. The upper control arm is shorter than the lower one so it will allow some more negative camber for the wheel in high-performance applications. While for truck use the control arms are placed at equal length so it has close to zero camber.
These control arms are connected with the knuckle while the front strut works independently. Allowing for a great performance on the race track because the suspension is really versatile and can withstand quite a lot more force than your regular strut assembly suspension.
Not to mention that for truck use it is also really well suited because it is really rigid and can withstand a big amount of force that is applied to it. But what are the pros and cons of the double wishbone suspension? Let’s elaborate more on that next.
Pros And Cons Of Double Wishbone Suspension
Now let’s cover some of the pros and cons of the double wishbone suspension. As you probably know, everything has its positives and negatives and so is the case with this type of car suspension. What makes the double wishbone good and what makes it bad? Let’s elaborate.
The main pro of the double wishbone suspension is that it is near perfect for high-performance cars. It is a whole different level in comparison to the MacPherson strut.
It offers great adjustability when it comes to negative camber and as we all know negative camber is the best thing when it comes to handling on the track. You just cannot catch these corners well with your regular setup. This is why the double wishbone wins here.
And the second thing is the rigidity that it offers. The double wishbone is really rigid and durable. Making it the perfect choice for pickup truck use or SUVs.
The downside is that it is somewhat expensive to build and also to maintain. There are two massive control arms that make this type of suspension more expensive to build. And most of these A-arms are built from aluminum which increases the cost when it comes to the affordability of this suspension.
Another drawback is the difficulty to work on. Being more complex also will require more hours of labor to get things done on this specific vehicle with double wishbone suspension. But what about the comparison with the MacPherson strut? Well, that’s what we are going to cover next.
Double Wishbone VS MacPherson Strut?
Now let’s compare the double wishbone suspension and the MacPherson strut. And frankly, there is no comparison.
Both of these designs are really good as a front suspension but they both have different audiences. The MacPherson strut is cheap to produce and maintain. But also lightweight and perfect for commuter cars since it only has a lower control arm.
While on the other hand, the double wishbone is far more complex with two control arms that are really rigid and offer great performance for track use and also not to forget when it comes to pickup truck use and allows the owner to haul a lot of stuff.
So, depending on what result you want to get, you should look for a suspension that fits your bill. Because once you purchased it, you will not be able to switch from the double wishbone suspension to the MacPherson strut and on the opposite. But there are a ton of kits that are out there that will offer you the chance to upgrade your double wishbone suspension.
Double Wishbone Suspension Kit
Another thing that we would want to cover is the double wishbone suspension kit. If you didn’t know, if you already have a pickup truck or a high-performance car that implements a double wishbone suspension, you can get one of these kits and upgrade your vehicle.
This will be quite noticeable if you perform it on a truck for example. The stock A-arms are really heavy and if you decide to replace them with aluminum ones, you will greatly benefit from this and your overall curb weight will be reduced. There are also aftermarket shocks that will allow you to customize your suspension as much as you can.
This is why you need to go online and look for what you could find when it comes to upgrading your stock suspension. Here is one kit on Amazon if you driving an Escalade, Chevy Silverado, or a Suburban.
Double Wishbone Suspension Facts:
- Double wishbone suspension is an independent suspension system that allows each wheel to act and react independently from the others.
- The system features two wishbone-shaped arms (also known as control arms or double A-arms) that are located between the knuckle on the wheel assembly and the car’s chassis.
- Double wishbone suspension is commonly found on high-performance cars and sporty sedans.
- The suspension offers a smoother driving experience, especially on bumpy roads, and gives technicians flexibility to adjust parameters like camber, caster and toe.
- Double wishbone suspension doesn’t affect wheel alignment, unlike single wishbone systems, like a MacPherson strut suspension.
- Double wishbone suspension requires less vertical space than other types of suspension, as there isn’t a shock absorber sticking out of the top of the wheel hub.
- The system is more complex, expensive to design, produce, and maintain than other types of suspension.
- If one of the many parts fails, the whole system needs to be serviced and repaired, which tends to take longer than other suspension systems.
- The high number of parts means a double wishbone suspension system is heavier and takes up more space (horizontally) than other suspension systems.
- The system is difficult to adapt to front-wheel-drive cars, so it is not appropriate for every make and model of car.
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the double wishbone suspension. First, we introduced ourselves to the topic and learned about car suspension in general.
Then we focused on the two types of suspension, which are dependent and independent suspension, and their subtypes. Namely the double wishbone suspension.
We learned in which application the double wishbone suspension is used and what are its pros and cons. Then we have compared it to the MacPherson strut and learned which of them is better. Lastly, we discussed double wishbone suspension kits.
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions when it comes to car suspension in general.
What Does Strut Mean
A strut is basically part of the MacPherson type of suspension. The strut is a whole assembly that constitutes the shock absorber as well as spring in one unit that is connected to the knuckle at the bottom and to the strut tower at the top.
What Is A Double Wishbone Suspension
A double wishbone suspension is a type of suspension that implements double A-arms. This means that this suspension has two control arms instead of one. It has an upper and lower control arm.
What Cars Have Double Wishbone Suspension
Double wishbone suspension is installed mostly on high-performance cars such as the Audi R8 or similar cars. It is also installed in pickup trucks and SUVs that need that rigidity to haul stuff and withstand the weight of the chassis.
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