Torque Shop

What are the different aspects of a suspension that can cause a car to ride badly? I just bought a two-year-old car and it is very uncomfortable for both the driver and passengers. Its ride is very hard and sometimes intolerable over rough surfaces. What could be the problem and what can I do to get a comfortable ride?

The first thing to check is whether the tyre pressures are correct. Over-inflation is a common cause of rough and jarring rides. Excessively high tyre pressures reduce the pliancy of the side walls, directly reducing ride comfort.

Tyres are an integral part of a car's suspension design. But the contribution of tyres to ride comfort is less significant than springs and dampers. If your car's tyre pressures are correct, the car may have had a suspension modification.

Most car owners who modify the suspension do so to enhance handling. This means fitting springs that are stiffer and shorter, together with more restrictive dampers. Some adventurous owners even replace the rubber bushings with harder polyurethane ones.

All these modifications do not prioritise ride comfort. The car may be highly stable on a track, but on normal roads which are not designed for racing, performance suspensions will definitely destroy ride comfort.

Other problems may arise from such modifications. Stiff suspension set-ups can affect roadholding adversely.

This is the aspect of suspension design that gives a car the ability to maintain stability over rough or uneven surfaces - in other words, in real-world situations.

Poor roadholding translates into instability. What happens is that the car will skip and hop, and the driver will struggle to maintain control.

The uncomfortable ride could therefore be a result of heavily modified suspension.

The car may look low and cool, but on city streets, occupants will experience a jarring ride, and the driver, a hard time behind the wheel.

Shreejit Changaroth

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2020, with the headline 'Torque Shop'. Print Edition | Subscribe