Don't Be Afraid To Ask Questions: Part 5 – Multi-Link Suspension

Two Whole Inches of Travel
Two Whole Inches of Travel

It has a big job every single second your vehicle moves down the road. Springs, shocks, and many mechanical linkages working together to produce a ride desired by the person behind the wheel. Some people like it soft and luxurious, and they buy a full-size Lexus. Some people like it stiff and hard-core, and they buy a Lotus Elise. Some even prefer suspension that is old, and they buy a 1964 Ford Falcon Futura.
There are a few types of suspension setups… but I am going to focus on one here: the Multi-Link Suspension system.
You hear the term “multi link” thrown out fairly frequently these days… but what the hell does it actually mean?
Basically, a Multi-Link suspension uses MUTLIPLE LINKAGES to control, independently, the many forces reacting on the wheels. These linkages control side-to-side, up and down, and in and out.
”]Multi-Link in action (rear view) [Image courtesy of Wikipedia]
The benefit of a Multi-link suspension is that it offers a great blend of good handling AND ride comfort. It can be used to reduce or eliminate torque steer. You can’t have the sweet without the sour, so some of the drawbacks of the multi-link setup include the space required to fit all the components and the cost to design and implement such a setup is higher than a more traditional suspension package.
”]Multi-Link Suspension: Top View [Image Courtesy of Wikipedia]To sum up, a multi-link suspension has three or more controlling arms. These linkages control forces on the wheel in X,Y, and Z directions which in turn provides John Q. Driver with a smooth and solid handling machine.
Popular applications for multi-link setups range from mid-size to large luxury cars, sports car like the Nissan GT-R, and over to heavy-duty rock-crawling where massive amounts of multi-directional movement are required.
[Source: AutoZine Technical School, Wikipedia]

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26 responses to “Don't Be Afraid To Ask Questions: Part 5 – Multi-Link Suspension”

  1. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

    2 whole inches of travel? That's not bad, especially when the vehicle is only 4 inches tall to start with!
    I thought another major advantage of multilink was to maintain the largest tire patch contact surface with the road, by keeping the wheel level…. as the opposite is illustrated by the solid beam axle on the Lego truck!
    Kind of not related, but i love the names that are given to suspension parts or systems: Ford's Twin I-Beam (I believe still in production on full size Econoline vans), and maybe to a lesser extent, Buick's Dynaride to name a couple.

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      It would help with the contact patch for sports car related activities… not quite as important when boulders are involved.

      1. GreyGhost Avatar

        A multi-link suspension would be important climbing boulders so as not to get hung up on rocks or other obstacles. So that the tire is contacting the ground as to provide forward momentum. Almost all Jeeps have a multi-link design on them and the new 2009 Dodge ram 1/2 ton actually has a 5 link design on the rear axle that was based off the 1999 to 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Plus the SCORE baja trucks use a multi-link as it helps keep the axle on the ground and also gives more wheel travel so when their going 80 to 90 MPH they have 30inches to absorb those hits. It's the same reason cars have it so to keep the the tire on the road to increase the performance,ride, and handling of the car. So it works for both vehicles in a somewhat different way, but they still both share similarity's as the suspension is trying to keep the tire on the road.

    2. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      You want a cool suspension name?

      1. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

        That's a cool name too…. of course, "Panhard Rod" is good for a few chuckles!

    3. Thrashy Avatar

      Ford's "Control Blade" is also the coolest marketing name ever for a trailing-arm-style multilink rear. Of course, Honda had been building systems like it since the Eighties…

    4. Z71 Avatar

      The Chevy Tahoe, for example (not trying to toot my own horn here, but… ), has a multilink rear suspension setup with a solid axle, so it works on independent or solid axles, just in a different way.

  2. muthalovin Avatar

    Huh. I found this interesting enough to google the Raptor's suspension, and it is leaf-spring. When the Raptor was raced in the Terrible's 250, it got second place, and most of the competitors had Multi-Link setups.
    I have to thank the Honiverse for crackin' eggs of knowledge, and piquing my interests.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Leaf springs are a remarkably viable rear suspension, particularly in long-travel and truck applications.
      The two biggest problems are side-to-side deflection of the leaves and axle wrap. You can completely control axle wrap with a well-designed anti-wrap bar, and lateral motion's not that big of a deal on a tall truck with big tires in the rear.
      The big reason they go to multi-link (usually triangulated 4 links in the rear on high-end trucks (and muscle cars) is to control axle wrap.

    2. SSurfer321 Avatar

      There is an excellent write up at of that race as they rode along in the Raptor R.

  3. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    The really weird thing on suspension design is that even the most basic suspension setups perform as they should to the level that engineers usually work (i.e. if you're talking about less than a 10degree swing, we claim the end of a pendulum essentially moves in a straight line, not an arc).
    …but it's all the subtleties within that engineering approximation of "about vertical" that make the difference between crude and sophisticated handling. That, and things like bushings or chassis flex.
    I've actually got cars that run the gammut of suspension technology, and the biggest difference that comes over time isn't absolute grip – you can get that out of tires, ride height and spring rates – it's versatility. Newer suspensions to a great job of keeping the tires where you want them without having to resort to rock-hard springs and swaybars.

    1. jeremy! Avatar

      what are you trying to say…?

    2. B72 Avatar

      Well said. That explains why there is enough room left in the suspension design discipline for folks that focus on it to be noticeably better than folks for whom "adequate" is acceptable. I'm sure that focus comes at a price in terms of engineering time and therefore money.

  4. Joe Dunlap Avatar
    Joe Dunlap

    Well, so far we have talked about multi-link REAR suspensions. How about multi-link FRONT suspensions, as found on VW’s B-5 Passats and Phaetons, and most Audi’s. I hearby throw out the challenge to A. Describe the geometry and B. Define the technical advantage of this system. To the best of my knowledge, VAG is still the only company to put this system into use. If you think the above anamation is interesting (and it surely is)you should see this one in action. I have one, but someone will have to tell me how to upload it here:-)

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  8. Daniel Zayac Avatar
    Daniel Zayac

    Ha, that's my Unimog from years ago! My new stuff is better.

    1. dead_elvis Avatar

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