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Do Springs Relax Over Time?

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Springs are an essential component in various mechanical systems, providing elasticity and resilience to objects. Whether it’s the suspension system in a car, the mattress on our bed, or even the door latch in our homes, springs play a crucial role in maintaining structural integrity and functionality. However, over time, springs can experience changes that affect their performance and reliability. In this article, we will explore the concept of spring relaxation, its causes, and its impact on different applications.

Understanding Spring Relaxation

Spring relaxation, also known as spring creep or spring sag, refers to the gradual loss of tension or force that a spring exerts over time. Springs are designed to withstand repeated stretching and compression cycles, but under certain conditions, they may experience a decrease in their original tension or load-bearing capacity. This relaxation phenomenon can occur in various types of springs, including coil springs, leaf springs, and even gas springs.

Factors Contributing to Spring Relaxation

There are several factors that contribute to spring relaxation. By understanding these causes, we can better comprehend how and why springs relax over time.

  1. Material Stress: One of the primary reasons for spring relaxation is the stress that the material experiences during its operational life. When a spring is subjected to continuous load or repeated cycles of compression and extension, the material gradually undergoes plastic deformation, leading to relaxation. To mitigate this, it is important to consider the material’s tensile strength and resistance to deformation when selecting springs for specific applications.
  2. High Temperatures: Elevated temperatures can significantly impact the properties of spring materials, causing them to lose their original tension. Heat can accelerate the relaxation process, making springs more susceptible to relaxation when exposed to hot environments or high-temperature applications. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the temperature range in which the springs will operate to minimize relaxation.
  3. Creep: Creep refers to the time-dependent deformation of materials under constant load. When a spring remains under a sustained load for an extended period, the material may slowly deform, resulting in relaxation. Creep is more pronounced in materials with lower melting points or those with higher creep rates. Proper material selection and load monitoring can help minimize the effects of creep on springs.
  4. Fatigue: Springs that are subjected to cyclic loading over a long period may experience fatigue failure. Fatigue occurs when a material weakens and loses its ability to withstand stress due to repeated loading and unloading cycles. As the material weakens, the spring’s tension decreases, leading to relaxation. Implementing regular inspection and maintenance programs can help identify signs of fatigue and prevent further relaxation.

Impact of Spring Relaxation

The relaxation of springs can have adverse effects on various applications, affecting their performance, safety, and overall functionality. Here are a few examples:

  1. Automotive Suspension: In vehicles, coil springs are commonly used in suspension systems to absorb shocks and maintain stability. If these springs relax over time, the vehicle’s ride quality may deteriorate, leading to reduced control, increased body roll, and compromised safety. It is crucial to regularly inspect and replace worn-out springs to ensure optimal performance and safety.
  2. Mattresses: Coil springs are often employed in mattresses to provide support and comfort. If the springs relax, the mattress may develop uneven areas and lose its ability to properly distribute body weight. This can lead to discomfort, back pain, and disrupted sleep. To prevent this, regular mattress inspections and replacements are necessary to maintain comfort and support.
  3. Door Latches: Springs are crucial components in door latches, ensuring that doors securely close and open. If the springs relax, the latch mechanism may become ineffective, compromising the security of the space and increasing the risk of unauthorized access. Regular maintenance and inspection of door latches can help identify relaxation issues and prevent security breaches.
  4. Mechanical Systems: Springs are widely used in various mechanical systems, including industrial machinery, appliances, and furniture. If these springs relax, the overall performance and functionality of the system may be compromised, potentially leading to costly repairs or replacements. Implementing preventive measures such as regular inspections, load monitoring, and material selection can help minimize the impact of relaxation on mechanical systems.

Preventing and Mitigating Spring Relaxation

While spring relaxation is an inevitable process, there are several strategies to minimize its impact and extend the lifespan of springs:

  1. Material Selection: Choosing the right material for the spring based on the intended application is crucial. Opting for materials with high tensile strength and resistance to deformation can help reduce relaxation. Consider factors such as temperature range, load requirements, and potential creep rates when selecting spring materials.
  2. Regular Inspection and Maintenance: Implementing a proactive maintenance program that includes regular inspections can help identify signs of spring relaxation early on. This allows for prompt repairs or replacements, preventing further damage or failures. Regularly inspect springs for signs of fatigue, deformation, or loss of tension.
  3. Controlled Temperature Environments: Avoiding extreme temperature conditions can help minimize the relaxation rate of springs. Maintaining a controlled environment within the recommended temperature range can significantly extend their lifespan. Consider insulation, ventilation, or temperature control measures to prevent excessive heat exposure.
  4. Load Monitoring: Monitoring the load or stress levels on springs and ensuring they operate within their designed limits can reduce the risk of relaxation. Overloading or subjecting springs to excessive stress can accelerate relaxation and shorten their lifespan. Implement load monitoring systems or guidelines to prevent excessive stress on springs.


In conclusion, spring relaxation is a natural process that occurs over time due to various factors such as material stress, high temperatures, creep, and fatigue. The relaxation of springs can have significant implications for different applications, affecting their performance and safety. By understanding the causes and impacts of spring relaxation, as well as implementing preventive measures, we can prolong the lifespan of springs and ensure the optimal functioning of the systems they are part of. Regular inspection, maintenance, and material selection are key in mitigating the effects of spring relaxation and maintaining their desired functionality.


1. What is spring relaxation?

Spring relaxation, also known as spring creep or spring sag, refers to the gradual loss of tension or force that a spring exerts over time.

2. What are the factors contributing to spring relaxation?

The factors contributing to spring relaxation include material stress, high temperatures, creep, and fatigue.

3. What are the impacts of spring relaxation?

The relaxation of springs can have adverse effects on various applications, such as automotive suspension, mattresses, door latches, and mechanical systems. It can affect performance, safety, and overall functionality.

4. How can spring relaxation be prevented and mitigated?

Spring relaxation can be prevented and mitigated by selecting the right material for the spring, implementing regular inspection and maintenance, maintaining controlled temperature environments, and monitoring the load or stress levels on springs.

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