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What is a Chassis?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 23, 2024
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A chassis is the part of an automobile that the suspension mounts to. Most vehicles manufactured since the 1970s use a uni-body construction method. In this type of design, the chassis is not separate from the body, as it is in a vehicle that uses a separate frame. With uni-body vehicles, the chassis is attached to reinforced sheet metal mounting points designed into the body of the vehicle. Some vehicles, such as pick-up trucks and heavy-duty vehicles, continue to use a separate frame and the chassis, for these types of vehicles mounts directly to the frame.

For the most part, the chassis of a vehicle can be identified as any component that moves—other than the body—when the vehicle is bounced. Springs, struts and A-frames are all chassis components on a vehicle. Other well-known chassis pieces are control arms, sway bars and axle assemblies. Lesser-know chassis components such as drag links, tie rods and ball joints are very important to the handling of the vehicle. These lesser known components are often neglected when a vehicle undergoes servicing.

Most suspension pieces utilize a grease Zerk that allows the part to be serviced and lubricated. A few pumps from a grease gun will properly lubricate a suspension component and keep it in peak operational order. The proper time to perform suspension maintenance on most vehicles is at designated oil change intervals. Some newly-manufactured suspension components come without grease fittings. These components are self-contained and require replacement in the case of part failure since no preventative maintenance can be practiced without grease fittings.

When replacing a suspension component, vehicle owners should opt to use the most high-performance part available. Many vehicles are offered in different option levels or performance packages. The high-performance packages used much better suspension pieces for most of the system components. By replacing standard package parts with high-performance parts, the vehicle's ride and handling will be drastically improved.

It is often necessary to replace multiple components when upgrading any suspension item. Components such as sway bar bushings are much stiffer if purchased for a performance suspension package; however, they are also designed to fit a much larger diameter sway bar. In a situation such as this, upgrading to a stiffer sway arm bushing would require also upgrading the sway arm and the sway arm mounts as well as the mounting bolts. The result, however, will be a better-handling vehicle chassis when negotiating tight corners.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Tomislav — On Jul 23, 2011

@geekish - I am interested in cars, but I know nothing about where he bought his parts. I would think that there is a specialized chassis shop, but when I looked for one in our area, I couldn't find one. Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

Good luck with your blooming interest in cars.

By geekish — On Jul 23, 2011

@Tomislav - That is some incredible work! I am just a beginner in the car show arena. I am more admiring chassis at this point more than anything else.

But...I do have my eye on eventually being able to rebuild a car myself. Do you know where he goes to get his chassis parts?

By Tomislav — On Jul 22, 2011

My neighbor has a very interesting hobby - he shows his car, well actually his truck, in vehicle shows!

The thing that makes it even more interesting and the reason I know about this is one day I looked over in his driveway and this blue truck I had never seen before, looking awfully sparkly, was going up and down...

The body of the truck was going up and down. Luckily I have a good relationship with my neighbor, so I could just walk over and go what in the world is this?!

He had completely redone the truck and added hydraulics which as you can imagine since the chassis is all about a vehicle's moving parts; he had to really know how the chassis works.

I just thought it was so neat since I had only seen hydraulics on TV that I had a worthy of a music video hydraulic truck in my neighbor's driveway!

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