- A​ MacPherson strut. A multi link is very similar to this, but has more control arm thingies.

M​acPherson Strut VS Multi Link Suspension.

S​uspension things.

7w ago

F​ollowing my Primary Ride Vs Secondary Secondary, I thought I’d post something else in the same vein. Namely, the bits of the car that give us an element of ‘ride’: suspension. Suspension is the stuff that (in some cases) makes you waft along gently, or (in some cases), makes your CD cases play well-known rock ballads.

There are two main types of suspension. The MacPherson strut, which has nothing to do with Scotland, and Multi-link suspension, which is even less Scottish. Let’s talk about the MacPherson strut first. It’s the most simple and therefore cheap way to keep your spine intact whilst you’re driving. It’s perfectly acceptable for use in most cars, but once you start driving enthusiastically, the MacPherson strut no longer ‘struts‘ its stuff. (sorry). This is because when you corner at higher speeds, the outside wheels gain in positive camber, because of complicated force things. This reduces the patch of rubber in contact with the road, limiting how much power can be put down.

T​his is where a multi link set-up comes in handy. It has control arms that do exactly what it says on the tin. They control the degree of camber that the wheel is subjected to, keeping the contact patches as large as possible, though they will still reduce in size slightly. This allows more power to be put down, allowing Clarkson more opportunities to yell “SPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED” and “POWER” with an ear-uniting grin. Despite their obvious benefits, manufacturers validate the use of the MacPherson strut by telling us that multi links are heavier, and they’re all about losing weight, for a better drive. But then they counteract that weight loss by giving you a key fob with a mass rivalling that of a fridge/ freezer. But anyway.

M​ulti links are more commonly found on the rear end of the car, and MacPherson struts usually feature on the front, giving a balance of expense and ability. However, there are more types of suspension, which have stupid names, and there are countless versions of both of these types of suspension. Anyway, in conclusion, a multi link set up wins every hour of every day of evey week.

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Comments (19)

  • better ride versus better handling.

    Outside of a racing circuit, what is the possible reason for a car that can take a corner faster? The pleasure of driving is in feedback, not raw speed. The raw speed is just a number of the dash - or on your ticket. A passenger plane goes at 600kph, but is it very exciting to fly in? A micro-flight on the other hand is very slow, but very exciting.

    James May is right on this.

      1 month ago
    • You’re right in that truly enjoyable cars are often slower than others, and I personally would rather be going slower, but having fun, than faster, and bored. However, I was simply talking about which type of suspension is better from an...

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        1 month ago
  • Nice simple write up.

    Interesting on what influences manufacturers decisions (cost usually), the specific examples that come to mind are the change in generations of Honda Civic and the cheap/expensive versions of the VW Golf.

    Drive both versions and you can tell the difference.

      1 month ago
    • I’ll have to give them a drive if I can, as soon as the DVSA decides to give me a driving test date. (Postponed from December 2nd to March 8th).

        1 month ago
  • No doubt. You know how many cars nowadays only come in MacPherson strut suspension??? Hell, there are companies resorting back to Torsion beam for the rear!!! I understand you gotta cut costs somewhere, but when you're a main company known for producing sporty things and you resort back to a torsion beam layout because the bean counters regulate you to it??? Man, what a sad day.

    I right out refuse to drive anything with less than double A - arms at all 4 corners (multi link I can settle for the rear since some of them can't resort to true double A- arms)

    Reduces my vehicle choices by a ton!! ;-) (see what I did there... ) lol

      1 month ago
  • If you’ve ever tried to minimise tyre wear on fronts with McF, by explaining the crucial element of the last nats cock of a degree of adjustment to a wheel alignment set up guy, youll know there’s a lot to be said for a double wishbones set up, until that is, you have to diagnose a fault, in which case finding the exact part that squeaks or wobbles can be a mare, so you realise you have to just change the lot, or you’ll be under there again looking for the part next door that’s failed a week later.

    Re basic straight-line stability , don’t expect decent handling to last beyond the first third of the tyres life,depending on how wangy you are, with McF strut. By nature compression and rebound affects camber angle. So bumps affect the camber as the wishbone arc pulls the wheel in and outboard , as does ride hight and therefore load. So throwing the car around alters camber, which alters response to bumps, which means worn tyres vear off bumpy or uneven rod surfaces. It can be a real handful, especially if the wrong tyres are fitted. To soft a tyre suited to a small front wheel drive hatch will really exaggerate the problem. Tyre choice is key anyway. Its even more vital on a large rwd McF equipped car.

      1 month ago
  • I really couldn't care less what the suspension on a car is. What's important to me is how it drives.

    The Renault sport Megan in most of its guises is widely regarded to be one of the finest handling cars in it class, and yet it uses relatively humble underpinnings.

      1 month ago
    • True- how the car drives is one of , if not the most important aspect of a car’s handling. But, multi link suspension can help to enhance how a car drives. However, it’s definitely not the be all and end all. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

        1 month ago