The Humble Shock Absorber - A Short History

There have been many truly remarkable innovations during the life and history of the motor car, especially those involving suspension. In the early days of the motor car, many accidents were caused by cars bouncing and swaying out of control due to the unpredictable conditions and surfaces of the road.

Whilst annoying at low speeds, at high speed this could become extremely dangerous and possibly life threatening. When most people were traveling around by horse and carriage, this problem was partially addressed by the use of springs. A system using a layer of metal 'leaves' became known as leaf springs invented by Obadiah Elliot in 1804.There are three types of springs known as Coil Springs, Torsion Bars and Leaf Springs. Springs are used in conjunction with shock absorbers to dampen the vertical pressure of the road on the car.

There have been many crude attempts at inventing a reliable shock absorber including A. Gimmig in 1897, who attached rubber blocks to the tops of leaf springs. However, In 1926 Monroe invented the 'Shock Eliminator' which is considered to be the first Shock Absorber. There are many types of shock absorber which fall into three basic categories which are Hydraulic Twin tube, Hydraulic Low Pressure and High Pressure Gas Monotube. Shock absorbers work by damping the compression and extension of a vehicle's suspension when it in is contact with the road at speed. Shock absorbers not only effect the handling of a car, but can also effect a car's braking. It is therefore vitally important to have shock absorbers checked regularly and replaced if worn.