Multimatic Dampers Could Be The Next Big Thing In Off-Road Driving

In LA last week we had a passenger ride in Chevrolet's new hardcore pick-up, the Colorado ZR2, which comes with a trick set of 'Multimatic DSSV' dampers. But how do they work?
Multimatic Dampers Could Be The Next Big Thing In Off-Road Driving

If you eye up Chevrolet’s new Colorado ZR2 pick-up, you might spot a glint of gold coming from an unusual-looking damper with the word ‘Multimatic’ stamped on it. It’s not a conventional damper, nor is it an adaptive one. So what the hell is it, and how does it work?

While at the LA Auto Show, we were whisked over to a special off road course in one of those impossibly large SUVs our American friends love, to get a passenger ride in Chevy’s new hardcore off-roading truck and find out a little more about the damper tech.

DSSVs in action
DSSVs in action

The work of Canadian firm Multimatic, the DSSV (Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve) damper system is something you’d usually find on a supercar or racing car. It’s been used in Formula 1 and the World Endurance Championship, as well as the Aston Martin One-77, the base Mercedes-AMG GT and the fifth-gen Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.

The spool valve is the crucial piece here. It replaces the metal shims which you’d find covering the holes in the damper’s piston, which move out of the way when the large amounts of force are applied through the damper, allowing oil to flow more freely and thus the piston to move to a greater degree.

Multimatic Dampers Could Be The Next Big Thing In Off-Road Driving

The Multimatic system replaces this with a little spring loaded spool valve, with a ‘keyhole’ to let fluid through. It’s the keyhole that’s the crucial bit, as the size and shape can be altered to control the characteristics of the damping depending on how much force is put through it. In other words, it can be firm or soft when it needs to be, acting like an adaptive damper but with passive technology.

It also gives more consistent damping than a shock absorber with shims, is stronger, and much better at heat management.

Multimatic Dampers Could Be The Next Big Thing In Off-Road Driving

The ZR2’s application of the system is where things get really interesting. It’s the first time the technology has been used for an off-road vehicle, which means it’s used slightly differently here. There’s a pair of spool valves in a remote chamber - one for compression and one for rebound - as in all other DSSV dampers, but with an additional third valve mounted on the piston, giving additional damping during hardcore off-road driving. This is known as position sensitive damping.

Finally, you get separate rebound valves for the front dampers, which come into play when the suspension is fully extended. The reason? So you can do a ruddy great jump and land safely without doing a massive endo. Useful, no?

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This is all well and good, but why not use an adaptive damper system instead? Multimatic told us that heat build up would be an issue with an adaptive system in an off-road application, but also, there’s the extra weight, complexity and fragility of adaptive dampers to think about.

I was sent around a short off-road course in a ZR2, and while my inner cynic wants to point out that Chevrolet wouldn’t design a course that shows up any of the hardcore Colorado’s weaknesses, the pick-up did seem to handle the course impressively. In particular, I was expecting a series of offset bumps at the beginning to be massively uncomfortable, but I was surprised just how smoothly the truck demolished them.

Needless to say, we’re pretty keen to take a drive and see how this tech handles the really rough stuff.



Well this is gonna shock Ford executives.

12/01/2016 - 17:52 |
38 | 0

Same with land rover

12/01/2016 - 18:04 |
2 | 2

Seeing as Multimatic are the people building the Ford GT…probably not.

12/03/2016 - 05:29 |
0 | 0


12/04/2016 - 22:14 |
0 | 4

It’s gonna put a damper on them for sure!

02/18/2017 - 02:46 |
0 | 0
Ryan Conley

So how do I apply to be the guy that drives the trucks over the obstacles?

12/01/2016 - 18:29 |
12 | 0
Kyle Ashdown

The only way I could be more proud to be Canadian is if they used maple syrup as damping fluid.

12/01/2016 - 18:43 |
156 | 0

Ohhh yes

12/01/2016 - 20:52 |
6 | 0

The only way I could be more proud to be a Missourian is if they used toasted ravioli as damping fluid.

12/01/2016 - 21:29 |
2 | 18

gets put in the new rolls royce suv but never used for actual purpose

12/01/2016 - 19:18 |
22 | 0

In reply to by GregK


12/01/2016 - 20:53 |
0 | 0

Don’t high end shocks all ready do this?

12/01/2016 - 23:14 |
2 | 2
Black Phillip

And just what’s wrong with solid axles and leaf springs??


12/01/2016 - 23:52 |
4 | 0
adam thompson

“One of those impossibly large SUVs our American friends love”. The Colorado is actually a mid-size truck. It’s dwarfed by the Silverado or the Suburban (an actual SUV)

12/02/2016 - 01:08 |
2 | 2

I think they mean they were driven to the course in a Suburban

12/02/2016 - 18:03 |
2 | 0

Re-read that entire sentence. He wasn’t referring to the Colorado.

12/03/2016 - 05:28 |
2 | 0

This is one of the reasons why Multimatic is one of the companies that I desperately want to work for at least by fifteen years post-graduation.
There’s not been much that they haven’t done to impress me as of late.

12/02/2016 - 02:21 |
4 | 0

extra weight and complexity?
Here is VW’s full kit adaptive dampers system that has been around since the early 2000s
Just some sensors, wiring and the control unit, it may look complex to some but it really isn’t.

12/02/2016 - 03:46 |
0 | 0

Wait… A new automotive technology that’s actually simpler than what we had before?
I can’t believe it…

12/02/2016 - 12:55 |
4 | 0


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