What Is an Electronic Suspension and How Does It Work?

What Is an Electronic Suspension and How Does It Work?

Troy Hammond
6 minute read


Electronic suspensions are the most advanced suspension systems available. In the simplest terms, electronic suspensions adjust the feel of the suspension and your vehicle’s ride height to cater to changing road conditions with ease. But how exactly do they work? 

What Is an Electronically Controlled Suspension?

Electronically controlled suspension systems use adjustable shocks or struts to adapt or change the ride control characteristics to deliver a better ride and handling experience over various driving conditions. Due to the components of the suspension, your vehicle can change the relative stiffness of the shock as it compresses and rebounds. 

This system independently controls the electronic shock absorber in your vehicle, making it able to adjust to changes within a fraction of a second. It also controls and evaluates inputs such as vehicle speed, body-to-wheel displacement, steering angle and pitch to provide comfort and an enhanced ride over expansive operating conditions. 

What Parts Make up an Electronic Suspension?

What Parts Make up an Electronic Suspension?

Electronic suspension systems consist of many working parts to become capable of adjusting to change within milliseconds. Each piece plays an essential role in enhancing your ride and overall performance. The parts that create an electronic suspension include:

  • Control module: The control module will monitor and control the vehicle. To complete this, there must be sensors in different suspension components so the system can make adjustments as needed to enhance your ride quality and handling characteristics. 
  • Electric actuator motor: This component is a small piece mounted inside or on top of the unit. This piece functions to rotate a selector valve or control rod that closes or opens orifices in the piston valve. 
  • Shock absorber: These mechanical components limit spring oscillation. When the springs exert an excessive amount of energy, the shock absorbers, or dampers, will absorb the power to provide a more comfortable ride.
  • Springs: The springs in your vehicle are designed to last a lifetime, and they play one of the most crucial roles in the suspension system. In most cars, springs will be steel and require little to no maintenance. 
  • Strut: The strut joins the dampers and springs to create one cohesive, working system. 
  • Roll bars: These pieces connect two wheels' suspension systems through the axles to work in unison. 

Basics of Electronic Suspensions

An electronic suspension is a computer-controlled system capable of adjusting the performance and ride characteristics of your vehicle. Unlike air suspensions, an electronic suspension can electronically modify the struts or shocks to create a smooth ride. Some electronic suspensions are also designed to automatically adapt to changing road conditions for improved handling in all sorts of terrain.

How Do Electronic Suspension Systems Work?

There are two types of electronic suspensions. You will find either active or adaptive systems. These systems rely on technology to deliver an incredible driving experience, but they operate in a different way to enhance your experience and improve driving performance. 

Active Suspension System

With an active electronic suspension, you can change the ride height of your vehicle to improve towing capabilities and performance. These types of systems use electromagnets or hydraulics to operate. 

Active suspensions that adjust hydraulically use sensors to monitor the vehicle’s movement and ride height. When you need to regulate performance or ride height, the system activates a hydraulic pump that pressurizes the liquid in the shocks. This will configure the stiffness of the suspension as well as the height of the vehicle to your specific preferences. 

Electromagnetically controlled active suspensions work similarly to hydraulically controlled systems. The only difference is that these systems use electromagnet motors instead of pumps to adjust a car’s ride height. This type of active electronic suspension is known to respond faster and use less power than hydraulics.

Adaptive Suspension Systems

Adaptive electronic suspension systems control the shock absorbers and their dampening performance. They will adjust the shocks as you drive in various conditions to deliver a smooth driving experience. 

These systems can adjust the shocks using a valve and solenoid, located on the strut. The solenoid monitors the road conditions via a computer system connection and relays the information. When stiffness and overall suspension performance need to be adjusted, the solenoid communicates this information to the system. 

Then, it will activate the valves to open and close as needed to regulate the amount of hydraulic fluid going into the shocks. An adaptive suspension may also use a magneto damper or a damper filled with fluid that contains metal particles. An electromagnet controls these little pieces of metal to adjust the pressure and stiffness in each damper. This system's capabilities enable it to nearly eliminate pitching variations and the body roll throughout various driving conditions, like accelerating, braking and cornering, creating a fatigue-free traveling experience.

Which Type of Electronic Suspension Is Right for You?

Both types of electronic suspensions can improve performance but in different ways. If you’re looking for something to enhance your driving experience during your commutes, consider an adaptive electronic suspension. Its ability to monitor the road and automatically adjust the stiffness of the shocks will allow you to experience a smooth ride in most road conditions. 

Those looking to adjust vehicle height for towing or performance purposes should consider installing an active electronic suspension kit. These allow you to raise or lower your vehicle will help you tow more and ensure a smooth ride. Active systems also work with electromagnetic recuperative or hydraulically actuated mechanisms. These systems may be a better option than adaptive systems, which operate through magneto-rheological damper mechanisms or a solenoid and valve. Regardless of which type of electronic suspension you choose, you’re sure to get a great performance. 

Shop for Strutmasters Suspension Parts

Shop for Strutmasters Suspension Parts

Strutmasters is a suspension manufacturer. Our business began in 1999, and over the last 20 years, we've made immense strides in our industry, becoming a suspension leader. We offer affordable suspension solutions to fixing costly systems such as air, hydraulic, magnetic and electronic. We've become a nationwide provider, proudly displaying the "Suspension Experts" title. 

When you're looking for the best suspension system for your vehicle, look no further than Strutmasters. Our mission is to deliver services and products that exceed your expectations. To learn more about electronic suspensions for your vehicle, contact Strutmasters online. Our knowledgeable staff is always ready to help. You can also shop our suspension conversion kits to find the best kits for your vehicle. 

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