The detailed, dynamic properties of dampers are known to influence substantially some of the subtle - and yet nevertheless hugely important - refinement aspects or ride and handling. Despite this, most of the current work on damping characterization relies on steady-state properties and transient aspects are left largely to subjective in-car assessments by test drivers.The paper describes research work aimed at improving our understanding of the transient properties of dampers through mathematical modeling and then attempting to link these properties to detailed aspects of the vehicle ride and handling. Further experimental work is planned to follow later.From a moderately complex mathematical model of a damper, an attempt is made to identify (a) those transient characteristics which are important in influencing the vehicle responses perceived by test drivers, and (b) which design features of the damper control those characteristics. Of particular interest to, for example, ride vibration are the effects of the damper dynamics on harshness associated with the mid/high frequency range. Also, in relation to handling, the role of the damper in controlling tautness in response to handling maneuvers is critical to the subjective feel of the vehicle.The damper model is finally combined with a mathematical model of the whole vehicle in an attempt to quantify the role of the damper''s transient properties in the vehicle.