Steering and Suspension Components (VIDEO)

Steering and Suspension Components (VIDEO)

These components are critical in today's vehicles. Sponsored by The Group Training Academy.


Doug Kaufman:

Steering and suspension components are critical items in today’s vehicles for safety, for comfort. Control arms may be one of the most misunderstood safety items within that segment. With me today is Dave Grasso from Dorman Products. Dave, what is it about control arms that shop owners really need to know when it comes to their customers, their techs, their service advisors? What is it about this component that really can help them be more profitable business people?

Dave Grasso:

Well, sure. To start with, it’s one of the most critical safety components. It’s responsible for attaching the vehicle’s chassis to the wheels, allowing for both up and down and left to right movement. They come in all different shapes and sizes. So the common diagnosis is a ball joint failure, a bushing failure as the technician’s underneath. But for service advisors and for shop owners specifically, the most important fact is the control arm assembly itself saves labor during the repair and is the complete repair solution.

So when a technician identifies a worn ball joint or a worn bushing, often replacing the complete assembly can save the time of having to press out the ball joints, having to press out the bushings. Why that’s important is the faster you turn the base, obviously the more that’s in it for the shop owner itself. But it’s really a complete solution for the vehicle owner as well, because you’re going to start to get these components wear out over time.

Doug Kaufman:

How have the components changed over the years? They’ve obviously become more of a loaded assembly or a complete assembly. Where are they come from? Where are they going?

Dave Grasso:

To start with they were heavy. They were often made of forged or cast steel. And as you start to see the evolution in suspension technology, they’re going to go to lighter components, stamp steel, for example. Stamp steel is being able to be utilized to start to lighten the weight. And then as the technology increases even further you’re going to get to lighter weight aluminums and even on late model vehicles, you’re going to have reinforced plastics.

The reason they do this is every suspension is a little bit different. The design of the suspension’s different and how they handle the weight of the vehicle is different. So years back when you would have a coil over separate shock, your coil would be sitting on the lower control arm. What that does is, it sits all the weight of the vehicle as you hit a bump, as you hit a turn right on that lower control arm. It’s got to be heavy. It’s got to be cast or forged. It’s structural for that vehicle.

New designs, as you move through McPherson struts, the vehicle’s suspension is loaded through the knuckle. The knuckle is taking the weight to the vehicle. So with that, they’re called unloading control arms. So these are some examples. This one specifically, it’s a follower upper arm. It’s responsible for moving up and down with the knuckle, holding the vehicle’s suspension geometry straight, but it’s not holding the load. So as technology improves, you’re going to get different designs for control arms.

Doug Kaufman:

All the different components have to work together to solve common vehicle problems. How can shop owners get the most information, up to date training on what’re right for their customer’s applications?

Dave Grasso:

So it always starts with the diagnosis. It starts with technicians understanding where the wear component is. That part hasn’t changed as much. Any component that’s moving is a wear item. So as your ball joints move up and down, as your bushings move up and down, the technicians are responsible for that diagnosis.

Dave Grasso:

What Dorman brings to the market is complete solutions. So rather than replacing the worn components individually, creating a solution that saves that shop time, that saves the technicians the labor and force, the specialized tools they need to bring out. You can imagine trying to take a unit like this, how large it is. This has got ai large ride and handling bushing. That bushing’s responsible for adding more comfort to the vehicle. But in the end it used to be one or two bolts to take a bushing off, you can see there’s six on this. So just the time involved in each of these pieces, as the technology advances, you’re saving time and labor by replacing the unit itself.

Doug Kaufman:

So Dave, with these components being so safety critical, what are this steps that are taken in product development to ensure that the components are right for the application?

Dave Grasso:

Yeah. It’s a great question. So, as we talked about, every vehicle suspension’s a little bit different. Dorman leads the market in coverage and to do so we have to have a unique development process that starts at the particular vehicle suspension. So we don’t reverse engineer control arms. What our job is, is we look at the vehicle suspension system. We understand what the requirements of that vehicle are. We understand where the load is. We understand what the gross vehicle weight of the vehicle is. And we’ll actually design each of our tests and each of our development criteria based on that application. So straight through our design process, all the way through manufacturing, it’s based on that particular vehicle suspension. So we can understand, and we can put the right safety measures in place to ensure quality across the whole cycle.

Doug Kaufman:

Saving time, saving money, saving your customers lives in some cases.

Dave Grasso:

Absolutely. They are safety critical.

Doug Kaufman:

Dave, how can people get more information?

Dave Grasso:

More information at

Doug Kaufman:

Thanks for watching. Have a great day.

This video is sponsored by The Group Training Academy.

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