Leaf springs play an important role in the handling stability and ride comfort of vehicle. End rubber gaskets are widely used to reduce the friction between leaves, but they also have considerable effect on the stiffness of the suspension assembly. The ride comfort may deteriorate with the stiffness of leaf spring changes. In this paper the influence of the end rubber gasket on the static stiffness performance of a parabolic leaf spring is studied. A finite element model of the leaf spring is developed and verified against the static stiffness test. Effects of the end rubber gasket parameters on the static stiffness of the leaf spring are analyzed based on an orthogonal experiment. The sensitivities of the five parameters are identified including the width, the length, the end thickness, the tail thickness and the distance to the end of the middle leaf. It is found that the contributions can be ranked in descending order as the tail thickness, the end thickness, the distance from end rubber gasket to the end of Leaf 2, and the width and length. The first two factors are considered of significant effects on the leaf spring stiffness. According to single-factor analysis, it is found that under the same load, as the tail thickness and the end thickness increase, the maximum deformation of the rubber gasket decreases, the stiffness of the rubber gasket increases, and the stiffness of the leaf spring increases, which provides a reference for the forward design of the end rubber gasket and the stiffness matching of leaf springs.

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