Ride quality
Ride quality refers to the degree of protection offered vehicle occupants from uneven elements in the road
A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two places, which typically has been paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by some conveyance, including a horse, cart, or motor vehicle. Roads consist of one, or sometimes two, roadways each with one or more lanes and also any...

 surface, or the terrain
Terrain, or land relief, is the vertical and horizontal dimension of land surface. When relief is described underwater, the term bathymetry is used...

 if driving off-road. A car with very good ride quality is also a comfortable car to ride in. Cars which disturb vehicle occupants with major or minor road irregularities would be judged to have low ride quality. Key factors for ride quality are Whole body vibration
Whole body vibration
Whole body vibration , as a therapy, was explored by Russian scientist Vladimir Nazarov, who tested vibration on cosmonauts in an effort to decrease the loss of muscle and bone mass in space. As there is minimal gravitational force in space, muscles and bones are not loaded as they normally are on...

 and noise
In common use, the word noise means any unwanted sound. In both analog and digital electronics, noise is random unwanted perturbation to a wanted signal; it is called noise as a generalisation of the acoustic noise heard when listening to a weak radio transmission with significant electrical noise...



While pleasant, the comfort of the vehicle driver is also important for car safety
Car safety
Automobile safety is the study and practice of vehicle design, construction, and equipment to minimize the occurrence and consequences of automobile accidents. Automobile safety is the study and practice of vehicle design, construction, and equipment to minimize the occurrence and consequences of...

, both because of driver fatigue on long journeys in uncomfortable vehicles, and also because road disruption can impact the driver's ability to control the vehicle. Early vehicles, like the Ford Model T
Ford Model T
The Ford Model T is an automobile that was produced by Henry Ford's Ford Motor Company from September 1908 to May 1927...

, with its live axle
Live axle
A live axle, sometimes called a solid axle, is a type of beam axle suspension system that uses the driveshafts that transmit power to the wheels to connect the wheels laterally so that they move together as a unit....

 suspension design, were both uncomfortable and handled poorly.

Automakers often perceive providing an adequate degree of ride quality as a compromise with car handling
Car handling
Automobile handling and vehicle handling are descriptions of the way wheeled vehicles perform transverse to their direction of motion, particularly during cornering and swerving. It also includes their stability when moving at rest. Handling and braking are the major components of a vehicle's...

, because cars with firm suspension
Suspension (vehicle)
Suspension is the term given to the system of springs, shock absorbers and linkages that connects a vehicle to its wheels. Suspension systems serve a dual purpose — contributing to the car's roadholding/handling and braking for good active safety and driving pleasure, and keeping vehicle occupants...

 offer more roll stiffness, keeping the tires more perpendicular to the road. Similarly, a lower center of gravity is more ideal for handling, but low bodywork forces the driver's and passengers' legs more forward and less down, and low ground clearance limits suspension travel, requiring stiffer springs.

Ride quality is also related to good braking and acceleration on poor surfaces. It protects the car itself, as well as its passengers and cargo, from vibration that might eventually damage or loosen components of the car.

On the other hand "poor" ride quality improves blood circulation, helps to keep the driver awake, helps the driver sense speed and road condition and is enjoyed by small children and traditional sportscar enthusiasts.

Impacts on ride quality

Load bearing also interferes with ride quality - the suspension settings are very stiff so the vehicle doesn't change pitch when loaded - most truck
A truck or lorry is a motor vehicle designed to transport cargo. Trucks vary greatly in size, power, and configuration, with the smallest being mechanically similar to an automobile...

s thus do not ride particularly comfortably. In passenger vehicles, self-leveling suspension has been introduced to counteract this effect.

Road construction quality and maintenance have a direct impact on ride quality in vehicles. In jurisdictions where all roads are as smooth as pool tables, the passengers are undisturbed already and the vehicle can be optimized for a higher degree of handling. In most industrialized countries, as well as in many development countries, pavement
Pavement (material)
Road surface or pavement is the durable surface material laid down on an area intended to sustain vehicular or foot traffic, such as a road or walkway. In the past cobblestones and granite setts were extensively used, but these surfaces have mostly been replaced by asphalt or concrete. Such...

 condition is scanned on road network level using laser
A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of photons. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation...

/inertial road Profilometer
Profilometer is a measuring instrument used to measure a surface's profile, in order to quantify its roughness.While the historical notion of a profilometer was a device similar to a phonograph that measures a surface as the surface is moved relative to the contact profilometer's stylus, this...

s. The Profilometer records road geometry
Geometry arose as the field of knowledge dealing with spatial relationships. Geometry was one of the two fields of pre-modern mathematics, the other being the study of numbers ....

 and condition while driving at highway speed. Results from Profilometry can be used to design an optimal geometric pavement repair, eliminating all long wave unevenness, roughness, erroneous cross slope
Cross slope
Cross slope is a geometric feature of pavement surfaces; the transversal slope [%] with respect to the horizon. It is a very important safety factor. One task is to make water run off the surface to a drainage system, as Cross Slope is the main contributor to Pavement Drainage gradient. Very low...

magnitudes and undesired cross slope variance, with the least road grinding and paving efforts. The outcome is a surface with superior ride quality.
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