All W-Body vehicles use a rear suspension designed around coil springs over struts and lightweight aluminum knuckles. The exception is the 1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme which uses a fiberglass mono-leaf spring. All vehicles have each rear wheel mounted to a tri-link independent suspension system. The three links are identified as the inverted u-channel trailing arm and the front and rear spindle rods. The spindle rods act as parallel links to allow the rear wheels to deflect upward when the rear wheels hit a road hazard, without moving the toe angle in a positive direction. An advantage of this suspension system is the reduction of unsprung and overall weight. Handling is improved with the independent action of each rear wheel. The spindle rods control the lateral wheel deflection.
The 1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme uses a composite fiberglass mono-leaf transverse spring. The spring rate is independent of loading. Lightweight cast-iron wheel knuckles are also used. Each wheel is mounted to a tri-link independent suspension system, similar to the other members of the W-Body family.
The tri-link design may be compared to a right angle. The wheel is located at the right angle formed by the spindle rods and the trailing arm. The ends of the tri-links hinge to provide vertical wheel travel. The spindle rods are solid links and force the wheel to travel through a controlled arc whose fore-aft position is determined by the trailing arm and whose lateral position is determined by the spindle rods.
Aside from maintaining geometric wheel location, each portion of the suspension has additional functions. The knuckle supports the brake caliper. All brake torque and braking forces are transmitted through the tri-links and the strut. The final duty of the spindle rods is to maintain the camber angle of the wheel throughout the wheel's travel, and to allow for setting the toe. The overall result of this rear suspension geometry is to maintain the rear wheels in a near vertical position at all times.
The stabilizer shaft attaches to the stabilizer bar drop link and extends rearward, where the stabilizer connects to the rear suspension support by two rubber bushings and mounting brackets.
A non-serviceable hub and bearing bolts to the knuckle. This hub and bearing is a sealed, maintenance-free unit and, if defective, must be replaced as an assembly.
Check the rear suspension system periodically for the following conditions: