Suspension is the system of tires, tire air, springs, shock absorbers and linkages that connects a vehicle to its wheels and allows relative motion between the two. Suspension systems must support both roadholding/ handling and ride quality, which are at odds with each other. The tuning of suspensions involves finding the right compromise. It is important for the suspension to keep the road wheel in contact with the road surface as much as possible, because all the road or ground forces acting on the vehicle do so through the contact patches of the tires. The suspension also protects the vehicle itself and any cargo or luggage from damage and wear. The design of front and rear suspension of a car may be different.
An early form of suspension on ox-drawn carts had the platform swing on iron chains attached to the wheeled frame of the carriage. This system remained the basis for all suspension systems until the turn of the 19th century, although the iron chains were replaced with the use of leather straps by the 17th century. No modern automobiles use the 'strap suspension' system.
Automobiles were initially developed as self-propelled versions of horse-drawn vehicles. However, horse-drawn vehicles had been designed for relatively slow speeds, and their suspension was not well suited to the higher speeds permitted by the internal combustion engine.