Piston Slap: Strut 'yo Stuff or Make A Wish?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap strut yo stuff or make a wish

When you wish...

TTAC Commentator Seminole 95 writes:


I enjoyed reading the responses on my NVH question.

Here’s another question for you. How significant is that Honda uses a double wishbone suspension on their family sedan (the Accord) whereas the Toyota Camry, Chevy Impala, and Hyundai Sonata use the cheaper MacPherson strut? Does the DW suspension make handling better in the turns? Does it last longer than a strut suspension, thereby giving you better ride quality as the car ages? Is the DW something that a car buyer should favor, or is it more complicated than that? I remember that many fans complained when Honda switched the Civic from DW to strut.

It looks like the Ford Fusion might use the DW suspension, but I am not sure. Interestingly, it also looks like the BMW 3 series uses a strut suspension, so maybe the DW is not necessary.

Sajeev Answers:

I think BMW signed a Deal with the Devil to make such an enlightened driving experience, as many of their famous machines run such illogical items like steering boxes (not rack and pinions) and the aforementioned MacPherson Strut design. Just kidding. Except not…the E39 M5 shouldn’t do what it does with such boneheaded bones. And yet it did! And still does!

Well, then!

Fact is, the suspension design (by itself) isn’t a big issue for most passenger cars. This excludes killer F1-like race vehicles, if you missed that. Odds are there’s more low-hanging fruit in one’s choice of geometry/alignment, spring, shock, sway bar and tire compound than there ever will be in a MacPherson vs. Wishbone quandary.

When it comes to automotive suspensions, I am a big fan of less is more. Which is laughable, considering the multilink design and air bladders in my Lincoln Mark VIII, one of the finest riding/handling cars out there (once you neutral out the handling with Addco sway bars). But my car needed tons of replacement parts after 10+ years and 120,000+ miles, parts which either do not exist or are far cheaper/easier to replace on a normal MacPherson setup. So maybe my point is still valid. Possibly.

I wager this issue is a red herring, the bigger problem is what I mentioned before: spring rates, shock valving and tire quality. Hell, tires are the most important part of this equation! Best and Brightest, off to you!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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4 of 44 comments
  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Nov 03, 2011

    Meh... worry more about shocks/struts and the bushing that the suspension rides on. That with tires and wheel sizes will have more affect than anything else.

  • Niky Niky on Nov 04, 2011

    I'm in the "comfort" camp. I've noticed you can make a double-wishbone front end ride better while maintaining the same handling characteristics (or better) as a stiffer McPherson front-end. The Miata and Mazda6 are wonderful in this regard... though I feel the current Mazda6 iteration has a little too much front-caster for everyday use... it's still much better in terms of feel than the front end of the BMW 3. The MX-5 is simply otherworldly. Double-wishbones and lightness allow it to run a very soft set-up very successfully. But in the end, get the suspension tuning right, and you can make anything handle. Even a live rear axle...

    • See 1 previous
    • Yaymx5 Yaymx5 on Jan 07, 2012

      "The MX-5 is simply otherworldly. Double-wishbones and lightness allow it to run a very soft set-up very successfully." Yup. :)

  • Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
  • Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.