How Do Leaf Springs Work?

Like many auto parts, a leaf spring is plays an very important role in the vehicle that you never know you need until it breaks or wears down!

Leaf spring is a suspension system for vehicles that has been used as far back as medieval times. They were originally called carriage or laminated springs. Its system has been tried and true, primarily used on almost all vehicles up to the 1970’s and still today on trucks and vans that haul heavy loads.
Leaf springs are constructed of one or more strips of long, narrow spring steel.These metal strips, called leaves, are assembled with plastic or synthetic rubber insulators between the leaves, allowing for freedom of movement during spring operation.

How Do Leaf Springs Work?
Leaf springs are long bundles of spring material that flex when under pressure from the moving of a vehicle’s axle. The ends of the leaf spring bundle are attached to the chassis of the car or truck, and the axle is then attached to the center of the leaves. The ends of the spring are rolled or looped to form eyes.Rubber bushings are installed in the eyes of the spring and act as noise and vibration insulators.The leaves are held together by a center bolt, also called a centering pin.

One end of a leaf spring is mounted to a hanger with a bolt and rubber bushings directly attached to the frame. The other end of the leaf spring is attached to the frame with movable mounting hangers called shackles.

Shackles allow for rearward movement as the spring hits a bump. The slightly curved spring (semi-elliptical) becomes longer and straighter. Rebound clips, or spring alignment clips, help prevent the leaves from separating when the leaf spring is rebounding from hitting a bump or rise in the roadway.

Single leaf steel springs, called mono leaf, are used on some vehicles.A single or mono leaf spring is usually tapered to produce a variable spring rate.Leaf springs are used for rear suspensions on cars and many light trucks.A variable rate can be accomplished with a leaf spring suspension by providing contacts on the mount that effectively shorten the spring once it is compressed.

What is the Purpose of a Leaf Spring?
The overall purpose of a leaf spring is to provide support for a vehicle. It also provides for a smoother ride absorbing any bumps or potholes in the road. Leaf springs are also used to locate the axle and control the height at which the vehicle rides and helps keep the tires aligned on the road.
To provide additional load-carrying capacity, especially on trucks and vans, auxiliary or helper leaves are commonly used. This extra leaf becomes effective only when the vehicle is heavily loaded.Leaf springs are used on the front suspension of many four-wheel-drive trucks, especially medium and heavy trucks.

The leaf spring has seen a modern development in cars. The new Volvo XC90 (from 2016 year model and forward) has a transverse leaf spring in high tech composite materials, a solution that is similar to the latest Chevrolet Corvette. This means a straight leaf spring, that is tightly secured to the chassis, and the ends of the spring bolted to the wheel suspension, to allow the spring to work independently on each wheel. This means the suspension is smaller, flatter and lighter than a traditionally setup.

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