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Motorsport Wheel Alignment: Damper Basics

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Damper Basics

02.06

00:00 - Let's start this module by just clearing up that while almost universally the term shock absorber is used, more correctly we should be using the term damper.
00:09 These are a deceptively complex device and this course isn't intended to be a complete guide to the selection and tuning of a damper, however it's still important to have a broad understanding of what they are and how they operate.
00:22 The damper in basic terms is used to control the amount of energy going into and out of the coil springs.
00:28 Let's step back a little and consider what would happen to our car if we had no dampers fitted.
00:34 In this instance when the suspension moves over a bump, the suspension will compress, which stores energy in the spring.
00:40 When we move past the bump, the spring would then extend and with no damper to keep things in check, we'd see the suspension continue to oscillate up and down well after we passed the bump.
00:51 To prevent this situation we fit dampers which pass a special oil through hydraulic valves as the suspension moves up and down.
00:59 These valves present some restriction to the oil flow and this helps control the motion of our suspension.
01:06 If these valves are very restrictive to oil flow, this makes it hard for the suspension to move up and down and less energy is passed into the springs.
01:15 On the other hand, if the damper valving is very free flowing, we have a similar situation to having no damper fitted at all.
01:23 In this way, the damper has the affect of resisting movement of the suspension and absorbing the energy stored in the spring, allowing the suspension to do its job without undue oscillation.
01:34 Now that is a very basic description of the damper but what we do need to know is that the valving in the damper has a big impact on how it operates and the valving needs to be designed to suit the stiffness of the springs fitted, as well as the rest of the suspension package.