How Shock Absorbers Work How Shock Absorbers Work

Shock absorbers help a moving car stay on the ground without bouncing. Energy is transferred and scattered with a shock absorber. The piston sends the energy to the oil chamber and turns it into heat.

A shock absorber is made of six components: the rod, the piston, the cylinder, the oil reservoir, the floating piston and the air chamber. Such shock absorbers are often said to be hydraulic and pneumatic. The chamber beneath the piston is filled with fluid (i.e. oil) and on the other hand, the chamber under the floating piston is filled with air.

As the piston is sliding down, the air becomes compressed and a valve opens in order to let the fluid flow into the reservoir and the shock absorber is consequently enlarged. Keep in mind that the more oil comes out, the safer and smoother the car ride will be. The oil may slowly turn into foam; this may affect the car negatively, therefore a gas with low pressure is released into the oil reservoir to prevent the foaming of the oil.

More Complex Shock Absorbers

Some shock absorbers are powerful than other, and they use a gas that has high pressure rather than a gas with low pressure. In these shock absorbers, the structure is a bit more elaborate and the valve can open to let the hydraulic fluid flow from both sides of the piston. Shock absorbers like these have one great advantage; air is not allowed into the oil reservoir, but it can still affect the car and reduce its control.

Hydraulic, Electromagnetic and Air Cylinders

A shock absorber is usually cylindrical in shape, but it can work differently from others. There are three main types of cylinders; the hydraulic cylinder, the electromagnetic cylinder and the air cylinder.

In the case of a hydraulic cylinder, when the energy is turned into heat, it will heat up the oil in the reservoir, whereas the air, in the air cylinder, is discharged out of the unit after it is heated. On the other hand, the electromagnetic shock absorber has another advantage; it can store the heat energy within for future usage.

Spring-Based Shock Absorbers

Cars often use both the hydraulic type and the spring-based type of shock absorber. These shock absorbers must have a torsion bar made out of a spring. There are two type of springs which can be used for shock absorbers; leaf springs and coil springs. Remember that a spring on its own does not make a good shock absorber because it is not able to scatter the energy, but it can only absorb it.

Different Uses of Shock Absorbers

Shock absorbers are very important for the suspension system of cars and motorcycles, but they are used also for the landing gears of airplanes. Shock absorbers vary in size according to their purposes. For example, buildings need shock absorbers that are quite large in order to protect them from damage during an earthquake. Another type of shock absorber is the yaw damper; it is mounted to railcars to prevent them from moving to and fro, and also from causing damage to the railway platforms.

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