One of the key aspects of an RC car’s performance is its suspension system, which affects the car’s handling, stability, and ability to navigate different terrains. Let’s explore the different types of suspensions and what makes each one special.
There are five suspension types used in RC cars. Independent, solid axle, four-link, torsion bar, cantilever suspension. Independent suspension allows each wheel to move independently. Solid axle suspension links the wheels on each side to provide high-ground clearance suitable for RC trucks.
The four-link suspension employs four separate links or rods to connect the wheels to the chassis, allowing for better traction control, improved handling, and greater stability at high speeds.
Torsion bar suspension utilizes a metallic rod that connects the lower control arm to the vehicle frame, making it perfect for uneven terrains or bumpy surfaces.
The cantilever suspension uses a cantilever arm attached to both the wheel hub and the car’s frame, providing a more comfortable ride and better traction in harsh terrains, with increased flexibility and the ability to withstand extreme off-road conditions.
Types of Suspension Systems
Independent suspension is an arrangement consisting of two suspension arms and a shock absorber, with each arm attached to the vehicle’s chassis. The two suspension arms function separately, rendering each wheel to operate independently.
This provides handling advantages like a more controlled drive when things are very bumpy. The suspension system ensures the wheels stay in contact with the terrain, boosting the car’s grip and enhancing its handling capacity. It also enables the vehicle to remain stable when negotiating turns and traveling at high speeds.
One of the most notable features of this suspension is its capacity to be customized to different driving styles and terrain types. This allows you to fine-tune your suspension to your specific vehicle and driving preferences. By the way, I also have a full dedicated article on RC suspension tuning. Please be sure to check it out if you are interested to learn more about it.
Numerous types of remote control cars, including off-road vehicles and touring cars, rely on independent suspension because of their exceptional performance on rough terrain.
However, no matter how expertly designed and rugged your RC car is, it’s bound to face occasional issues, particularly with the remote control. When this happens, it can put a damper on the fun.
Thankfully, I have already written a comprehensive troubleshooting guide on RC remote control which will help you to get your RC car back on track as soon as possible.
Solid Axle Suspension
This is a system that integrates a rigid axle to interconnect the two wheels on each side. So it doesn’t allow the wheels to move independently, because the axle compels both wheels to move in unison.
Solid axle suspension is highly appropriate for RC cars that need stability and simplicity, like rock crawlers and monster trucks. This is because solid axle suspension provides exceptional ground clearance and can overcome extreme terrains such as mud, sand, and rocks. This is because it provides exceptional ground clearance, enabling them to conquer extreme terrains such as mud, sand, and rocks.
But along with such intense activities, you might be wondering, are those RC cars hardy enough? Well, I strongly encourage you to read this insightful article where I explain whether RC cars break easily.
Now, In comparison to independent suspension, solid axle suspension is less multifaceted, but it is simpler to maintain and provides exceptional performance in certain situations.
Fans of RC cars who prefer solid axle suspension value its resilience, minimal maintenance requirements, and capability to conquer challenging terrain with ease.
Four-link suspension utilizes two upper and two lower links to connect the axle to the vehicle’s chassis. This creates a stable platform that allows for greater control and handling.
It is highly customizable so you can fine-tune it to match your specific driving style and terrain type. This makes it an ideal choice for cars that require exceptional performance on challenging terrains.
It provides better stability during acceleration and braking, improved handling in corners, and enhanced traction on rough terrain because the four-link design minimizes axle movement and keeps the tires in contact with the ground for longer.
Pro Tip: I recommend the four-link suspension system for anyone who values control, stability, and exceptional performance on any terrain.
Torsion Bar Suspension
Torsion bar suspension, a popular suspension system used in RC cars, consists of a long, thin bar made of steel or other strong materials. The chassis of the vehicle anchors the bar at one end, while the wheel assembly anchors it at the other end. As the wheel moves up and down, the bar twists and stores energy.
The torsion bar suspension system is simple, easy to maintain and repair, and provides a smooth ride and good handling characteristics essential for off-road driving.
Adjusting the tension on the anchor points changes the stiffness of the bar, allowing for customization to suit different driving conditions and styles.
Torsion bar suspension is durable and designed to withstand the rigors of off-road driving, making it an ideal choice for RC cars and other vehicles. Its adjustability, durability, and good handling characteristics make it an ideal choice for off-road driving. Torsion bar suspension is a reliable and versatile option to consider, whether you are a beginner or an experienced RC car enthusiast.
Yet, as a beginner, navigating the world of RC cars can seem overwhelming. That’s why I want to share this comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to RC Cars with you. This guide will arm you with the knowledge you need to start your journey in the RC car world confidently.
RC cars commonly use cantilever suspension, which includes a horizontally mounted shock absorber above the wheel assembly. One end of the shock absorber is attached to the chassis, while the other end is attached to the wheel assembly.
Cantilever suspension provides a larger range of movement and better wheel articulation, which is useful for maintaining traction on uneven terrain during off-road driving. The suspension stiffness can be adjusted for different driving styles and conditions. A stiffer suspension may be suitable for high-speed driving, while a softer suspension is better for crawling over obstacles.
Additionally, cantilever suspension is durable and can withstand the impacts of off-road driving. This makes it a reliable option for RC car enthusiasts of all levels who enjoy off-road driving.
Different Parts of The RC Car Suspension
Shock absorbers, also known as dampers, are essential components of an RC car suspension system. Their primary function is to dampen the vibrations and impacts from the wheels by converting kinetic energy into heat energy, providing stability and control to the car.
The shock absorber consists of a piston that moves inside a cylinder filled with hydraulic fluid, usually silicone oil. As the wheel moves up and down, the piston compresses the hydraulic fluid, which slows down the movement of the wheel and reduces the impact of the shock. The hydraulic fluid is then released as the piston moves back to its original position, allowing the wheel to return to its normal position smoothly.
Shock absorbers can be adjusted to change the stiffness of the suspension. This adjustability allows drivers to customize the suspension to their preferences and driving conditions. Check out my detailed RC shock oil weight guide.
For example, a stiffer suspension may be preferable for high-speed driving, while a softer suspension may be better for crawling over rocks and other obstacles. Speaking of RC rock crawling, you might find it helpful to check out my comprehensive guide on why RC rock crawling is such a fun and exciting hobby.
Springs play a vital role in providing stability and control to an RC car’s suspension system, working in conjunction with shock absorbers to absorb impact. They come in various materials, such as steel, titanium, and alloys, and their stiffness determines the suspension system’s rigidity. Spring rate, measured by the weight required to compress the spring by an inch, also affects stiffness.
Choosing the spring rate depends on driving type, car weight, and track conditions. Linear and progressive springs are the two common types, with linear springs offering a constant resistance throughout the compression process, and progressive springs providing varying resistance depending on compression distance.
A-Arms are typically made of sturdy materials such as aluminum or carbon fiber to endure the impact and stress from the road. They have various shapes and sizes depending on the make and model of the RC car.
The primary function of A-Arms is to control the movement of the wheels and align them with the car’s body. They work with the steering system to ensure that the car moves in the desired direction. When the car turns, the A-Arms pivot to enable the wheels to turn smoothly.
However, there may be instances when your RC car steers but won’t move, which could be due to various reasons. For a comprehensive understanding of this issue and to troubleshoot effectively, I highly recommend you check out my insightful guide on why your RC car might be steering but not moving. It’s a valuable read for any RC hobbyist!
A-Arms have a significant role in determining the suspension geometry. The camber and caster of the wheels are affected by the A-Arms’ length and angle, influencing the car’s handling and stability. Inappropriate suspension geometry can cause the car to pull to one side or result in poor traction.
Adjusting the A-Arm length, angle, or position can fine-tune the handling and performance of the RC car, improving cornering, straight-line stability, and overall handling, like other suspension components.
C-Hubs and Knuckles
C-Hubs, also called caster blocks, support the front axle and allow the wheel to pivot in the front suspension system. These “C”-shaped parts attach to the steering knuckle, which connects to the wheel hub and brake assembly. The caster angle of the C-hub impacts the steering and handling of the vehicle, with a greater angle providing more stability and a smoother ride.
Knuckles, also known as steering arms, connect the tie rod to the wheel spindle to allow the wheels to turn left or right. They typically consist of cast or forged steel and are attached to the steering linkage and the wheel hub. Knuckles also house the wheel bearing to enable smooth wheel rotation.
C-hub and knuckle design can vary depending on the vehicle and intended use, with high-performance vehicles using lightweight materials like aluminum to reduce weight and improve handling. In contrast, off-road vehicles may use reinforced parts to withstand the stress and impact of rough terrain.
Turnbuckles are a crucial part of the RC car suspension system. They are adjustable links that connect the steering assembly to the wheel hubs, allowing you to adjust the camber and toe-in of the wheels. Camber refers to the angle at which the wheels are tilted in or out from the vertical axis, while toe-in refers to the angle at which the wheels are turned in towards the centerline of the car.
By adjusting the turnbuckles, you can fine-tune the camber and toe-in angles to achieve better handling and traction. For example, increasing the negative camber (tilting the top of the wheels inward) can improve cornering grip, while reducing the toe-in angle (making the front of the wheels slightly closer together than the rear) can improve straight-line stability.
Turnbuckles are typically made of lightweight yet strong materials like aluminum or titanium, and they can be easily adjusted with a simple wrench or pliers. It’s important to make small adjustments and test the car’s performance on the track to ensure that the changes are improving the car’s handling and not causing any issues. Over-adjusting the turnbuckles can lead to unpredictable handling and poor performance.
Sway bars, also known as anti-roll bars, are typically made of metal, such as steel or aluminum, and consist of a solid or hollow bar that connects the suspension on each side of the car.
The main function of sway bars is to reduce body roll while cornering. When a car turns, the weight of the car shifts to the outside wheels, which can cause the body to lean or roll. Sway bars help counteract this by transferring some of the weight to the inside wheels, which helps keep the car level and improves handling.
Pro Tip: If you’re interested in a deeper dive into the intricate dynamics of how the RC cars maneuver, don’t miss my in-depth guide on how RC cars turn.
Sway bars come in different sizes and thicknesses, which affects their stiffness and how much they resist body roll. Thicker sway bars are stiffer and provide more resistance, which can help reduce body roll even further. However, they can also make the car feel stiffer and less responsive.
Sway bars can be adjusted by changing the position of the mounting points or by replacing them with different thicknesses. This allows you to fine-tune the suspension for different track conditions and driving styles. For example, a thicker sway bar may be better for high-speed tracks with tight turns, while a thinner sway bar may be better for tracks with long sweeping turns.
While sway bars are beneficial for reducing body roll, they can also affect other aspects of the suspension, such as the overall ride comfort and the grip of the tires. So consider the size and position of the sway bars when making adjustments to the suspension system.
Pivot balls are metal balls that connect the A-Arms and C-Hubs or knuckles in an RC car suspension system. They allow the suspension to move and pivot, improving handling and control. Pivot balls are durable and usually threaded for easy adjustment of suspension geometry.
Adjusting the pivot ball location can fine-tune suspension and improve performance. Worn or damaged pivot balls can cause suspension misalignment, resulting in poor handling and reduced performance. It is crucial to inspect and replace pivot balls regularly to maintain proper suspension geometry.
These are usually made of high-strength steel alloys to withstand the suspension system’s stress and impact and are commonly used for the car’s front suspension. Twisting the torsion bar determines the spring rate and the ride height of the RC car, which can be adjusted to fine-tune the suspension for better handling and performance.
Using torsion bar suspension systems is advantageous because they are simple, require fewer components than other suspension types, and are lightweight and compact, making them suitable for limited suspension space.
However, adjusting the torsion bar in an RC car requires specialized knowledge and tools, and improper adjustments can lead to poor performance. Overall, torsion bar suspension systems offer a good balance of strength, durability, and performance.
The world of RC car suspensions offers a variety of options to suit different needs and preferences. From the simplicity of spring suspension to the sophistication of cantilever suspension, each system has its advantages and disadvantages. For those seeking a budget-friendly and low-maintenance option, spring suspension might be the way to go.
Meanwhile, for off-road enthusiasts who demand superior handling and adjustability, cantilever suspension may be the preferred choice. Other suspension types, such as double-wishbone and trailing-arm suspension, also offer their unique features and benefits. Ultimately, it’s up to each RC car hobbyist to weigh the pros and cons and choose the suspension system that best fits their requirements.