How Car Suspensions Work

The Bose Suspension System

Bose® Suspension Front Module
Bose® Suspension Front Module
Photo courtesy BOSE

­While there have been enhancements and improvements to both springs and shock absorbers, the basic design of car suspensions has not undergone a sign­ificant evolution over the years. But all of that's about to change with the introduction of a brand-new suspension design conceived by Bose — the same Bose known for its innovations in acoustic technologies. Some experts are going so far as to say that the Bose suspension is the biggest advance in automobile suspensions since the introduction of an all-independent design.

How does it work? The Bose system uses a linear electromagnetic motor (LEM) at each wheel in lieu of a conventional shock-and-spring setup. Amplifiers provide electricity to the motors in such a way that their power is regenerated with each compression of the system. The main benefit of the motors is that they are not limited by the inertia inherent in conventional fluid-based dampers. As a result, an LEM can extend and compress at a much greater speed, virtually eliminating all vibrations in the passenger cabin. The wheel's motion can be so finely controlled that the body of the car remains level regardless of what's happening at the wheel. The LEM can also counteract the body motion of the car while accelerating, braking and cornering, giving the driver a greater sense of control.

Unfortunately, this paradigm-shifting suspension won't be available until 2009, when it will be offered on one or more high-end luxury cars. Until then, drivers will have to rely on the tried-and-true suspension methods that have smoothed out bumpy rides for centuries.

For more information on car suspensions and related topics, check out the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks articles

More Great Links


  • "Bose suspension.", Inside Line. Accessed April 26, 2005.
  • Glossary Double wishbone suspension.
  • Clynes, Tom. 2004 Better living through curiosity. Popular Science. December 3.
  • DiPietro, John. 2004."
  •" Encyclopedia Britannica 2005, s.v. "damping." CD-ROM, 2005.
  •"Kahn, Dan. Monroe Shocks and Struts. Tech Support, Technical Training.
  • Sherman, Don.
  • Wright, Michael and Mukul Patel, eds. 2000. Scientific American: How things work today. New York: Crown Publishers.