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TEIN Damper VS Cartridge Damper
Mass-Marketed Budget Suspensions made overseas.Among those, many are so-called Cartridge Dampers,which became popular decades ago.What exactly is a Cartridge Damper!?
What is "Cartridge Damper" ?
The definition of the word "cartridge" is "a small removable unit designed to be inserted into a larger piece of equipment".
Okay, understandable.
Then, what does "cartridge damper" mean?
Well, "a larger piece" is a shell case and "a small removable unit" means a shock absorber inside shell case.

Shell Case & Cartridge Shock Absorber
Now, you get the picture? "Cartridge damper" consists mainly of a shell case and a shock absorber built separately. You take a shell case, insert a shock absorber into it, seal the shell case top, and now you have a cartridge damper.

Inserting Cartridge Shock Absorber into Shell Case
Is TEIN damper a cartridge damper?
No. All TEIN dampers are shell cases with dampers as an integrated, sealed assembly.
Just as with a cartridge type, it has a main body - shell case. But, a shock absorber is not built separately, unlike a cartridge one.

TEIN Damper: Shell Case & Inner Parts/Components
All the parts and components of a shock absorber are inserted directly into a shell case, instead, then assembled and sealed.

Inserting Inner Parts directly into Shell Case
What are advantages and disadvantages of a cartridge damper?
Cartridge dampers have been around for a while now. In fact, automakers have been using them for the past few decades.
It is very easy to build; just make a shell case and insert a ready-made cartridge into it. If a cartridge is damaged and starts to leak, all you have to do is to get a replacement cartridge. No special knowledge or experience is required.
Sounds quite convenient, right?
Well, it is not all that good…
Let's look into the negative sides
To fit a cartridge inside a shell case, of course a cartridge has to be thin enough.

Outer Diameter of TEIN Damper

Outer Diameter of Cartridge Damper
To make it thin is the troublesome part.
What is going on inside a thin shock absorber?
An amount of oil inside a thin shock absorber is relatively very small.

Amount of Oil in TEIN Damper (example)

Amount of Oil in Cartridge Damper (example)
What will having only a small amount of oil lead to?
Oil itself deteriorates early, heats up easily and is slow to cool down. Because of this, it is difficult to keep damping force stable for long period of time.
Inevitably, smaller shock absorbers means having a smaller piston valve which is the heart of shock absorber.

Left: Piston Valve used inside TEIN Damper
Right: Piston Valve used inside Cartridge Damper
What will a small piston valve cause?
Air gets mixed in with oil easily and such aeration results in reduction of damping force. Smaller piston valve means only smaller surface available to receive pressure and hence it is difficult to make fine-tuning of damping force when a shock absorber makes only tiny movements. A shock absorber on ordinary streets is full of such tiny movements, one after another.
Having such a fine-tuning, how can the settings of street-use shock absorber be optimized?
What are advantages and disadvantages of an assemble type damper?
As mentioned, all TEIN dampers are sealed assemble types, which turn the disadvantages of cartridge dampers into advantages.
As shock absorber is directly set / assembled inside shell case, sufficient amount of oil can be used.

capable of holding sufficient amount of oil
This means…
Amount of oil is larger, thus oil deteriorates very slowly, rise in temperature is minimal and aeration does not occur much. Our off-the-shelf damper kit, TYPE FLEX, proved all these, by finishing Nurburgring 24-Hour Race without any trouble.
The car, equipped with the off-the-shelf TYPE FLEX kit, clinched the class title in
Nurburgring 24-Hour Race with NO trouble.
Piston valve is also much larger. This enables effective generation and control of damping force, reacting to even subtle movements of shock absorber, and hence allows to provide superior ride comfort on streets.

Piston Valve, sufficient enough in size, used inside TEIN Damper
Is there any other difference between cartridge damper and assemble type damper?
Yes, there are some particular to ride height adjustable dampers.
Most of easy-to-replace cartridge dampers are manufactured by major companies who provide dampers for car manufacturers. They have some standard cartridges ranging in size from short to long and shell cases are designed to fit such cartridges.
What does that mean?
Dimensions of shock absorbers vary widely just as vehicle platforms vary. But, with cartridge damper, size of shock absorber is determined and decided according to the closest size of cartridge already available, not to the size and shape of vehicle chassis.

Designing Cartridge Damper require some compromises,
as only a limited selection of length available
There is a constraint on damping force setting as well. It is quite difficult to revalve and to change the settings of cartridge damper, as disassembly procedure includes actually breaking open the cartridge itself.
Integrated assembly type TEIN dampers, on the other hand…
There is virtually no unnecessary limitations in sizing. Thus, the shock absorber can be designed without making any compromises, down to the millimeter, to make it most suitable for each particular vehicle.

test run, to find the best possible setting for each & every vehicle models
Also, damping force setting can easily be modified by changing the components of the shock absorber, allowing us to provide the most comfortable ride and the best possible maneuverability.

repeatedly redesigned and revalved, until the optimum result is achieved
TEIN Suspension Products, All Made in Yokohama
There are so many discount shock absorbers on the market nowadays. Most of those are cartridge types made in Taiwan, China, Korea etc. Quick-overhaul (only available with a cartridge replacement) may be appealing. But, as they say, you get what you pay for.
Lastly, doesn't TEIN damper have any disadvantage?
As we carefully design and develop each and every product one by one, specifically for each and every vehicle model, and all products are "Made in Yokohama", manufactured/assembled in-house, prices of TEIN dampers may be a bit higher than those budget dampers made by foreign manufacturers. We, TEIN, continue to make the best effort to provide products that offer exceptional performance and outstanding value for money, turning every disadvantage into merit!

TEIN Dampers, manufactured in-house at Yokohama plant under thorough quality control
If you have any specific questions regarding this lesson, please E-mail your questions to:
, with Subject Line - TEIN CLASSROOM
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