Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
AM 141
Course Title:
Suspension and Steering
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introduces basic principles of suspension, steering and wheel alignment for passenger cars and light duty trucks including tire construction, types and sizing. Includes disassembling and reassembling suspension and steering system components. Introduces computerized 4-wheel-alignment, tire balancing and tire changing equipment. Prerequisites: CG 209. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

This course is designed for students with no previous industry experience. Students will develop the skills, knowledge and abilities necessary to perform, with supervision, suspension, steering and alignment repairs on import and domestic vehicles. This course will prepare students for Advanced Suspension, Steering and Brakes (AM 142), where they will practice learned skills on vehicles until they can diagnose and repair these systems with limited supervision. This is the skill level necessary for employment at apprentice level.

The broader purpose of this course is to provide students with authentic experience in basic industry skills and concepts, to help ensure their success in later courses, and on-the-job. These skills include precision tool use, finding service information, fastener tightening and ASE style test taking. Concepts and abilities that they will put into practice include safety, craftsmanship, professionalism, communication of inspection results and responsible customer service.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  • Perform comprehensive suspension and steering system inspection, maintenance, diagnosis and repairs with limited supervision.
  • Communicate effectively with employers, customers and co-workers.
  • Access and utilize repair information in a rapidly changing technology.
  • Develop and implement strategies and processes to solve steering and suspension system repair problems.
  • Perform steering and suspension system repair to professional and ethical standards. 

Outcome Assessment Strategies

To reach these goals, students will demonstrate the course outcomes for Suspension and Steering by completing the following tasks:

1. Perform a complete Inspection of the steering & suspension system; and obtain accurate 4-wheel alignment measurements.

Preparation for this will be achieved by completing the following sub-tasks:
• Practice proper inspection procedures for all steering and suspension components
• Practice using industry standard 4-wheel alignment equipment
• Practice using tire mounting and balancing machines
• Overhaul of rack & pinion steering gears
• Removal and replacement of McPherson suspension components
• Removal and replacement of shock absorbers
• Headlamp aiming

2. Demonstrate professional skills and attitudes throughout AM104 by:

• Maintaining good attendance
• Using safe shop practices
• Demonstrating respect for others, and for property
• Participating in and completing all required activities

3. Demonstrate preparedness for ASE testing by achieving passing scores on all written exams

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Critical to the effective diagnosis and repair of any automotive system is an understanding of how and why certain components work. On today's automobile, this is often more useful for the technician than the ability to perform a particular adjustment or replacement. A technician must have the ability to determine which repairs are in the customer's best interest, and understand how safe service procedures are in their own best interest. To develop this background understanding of automotive steering, suspension & alignment, students in AM104 will explore the following concepts:

Health and Safety
• Loaded suspension components
• Proper jacking & hoisting
• Identification, handling and disposal of lubricants

Professional business and personal conduct
• Customer safety
• Repeat repairs
• Communication with customers
• Customer satisfaction as business strategy
• Teamwork
• Cooperative problem solving

Physical Laws
• measurements in degrees, inches, metric
• hydraulic principles ¿ pumps / pressure
• static and dynamic imbalance (of tires)

Specific System and Component operation
• vehicle construction
• basic suspension types
• function of suspension system components
• spring types
• electronic suspension types / operation
• steering gear types / operation
• power assisted steering

Skills developed in AM141:
In Suspension and Steering, students will build an inventory of the following repair skills to prepare for a career in Automotive Service & Repair. Further skills will be developed and practiced in AM 142.

Suspension Systems
• remove and replace McPherson struts
• inspect suspension ball-joints for wear
• accurately identify major suspension system components
• remove and replace shock absorbers
• inspect suspension bushings for wear

Steering Systems
• evaluate and overhaul rack & pinion type steering gear
• properly select power steering fluid
• inspect steering linkage for wear

• inspect tires for wear and overall condition
• dismount & mount tires / wheels
• use computerized equipment to balance tire/wheel assemblies
• repair tire punctures

Related Instruction

Hours: 20

Perform steering and suspension inspection, maintenance, diagnosis and repairs to industry standards.

Students measure steering and suspension components using precision instruments, such as specialized alignment equipment, and compare results with manufactures/industry specifications.

Students perform steering and suspension analysis/testing, using pressure gauges, tire balancers, specialized alignment angle equipment, etc€¦, and compare readings to manufacturers/industry specifications.

Assessment:  Feedback is immediate, direct and pass/no pass for classroom or lab assessed activities.  Homework and exams are €œA-F€ grades with direct feedback delivered within 1 week.

Hours: 15

1. Develop and implement strategies and processes to steering and suspension system repair problems.
2. Communicate effectively with employers, customers and co-workers.

Students work in teams to communicate with staff to check out tools, school cars, and have repair orders written for lab projects.

Students participate in co-operative learning exercises designed to help reinforce their subject knowledge and promote teamwork. 

Assessment:  Feedback is immediate, direct and pass/no pass for classroom or lab assessed activities.  Homework and exams are €œA-F€ grades with direct feedback delivered within 1 week.

Human Relations
Hours: 15

Perform steering and suspension repair to the highest professional and ethical standards.

Students build on previous course work in human relations to continue the practice of human relations introduced through class discussions and homework.
Students work in teams to complete assigned lab projects.  Team work is focused on working in a diverse cultural environment, being sensitive to Others needs and diffusing difficult situations in a calm and respectful manner. 
Students work with lab partners, staff members, and their instructor to bring customer/school cars in /out of the shop for class lab projects.

Assessment:  Feedback is immediate, direct and pass/no pass for classroom or lab assessed activities.  Homework and exams are €œA-F€ grades with direct feedback delivered within 1 week.