Air suspension systems were initially used for heavy aircraft back in World War II. Since then, the systems have evolved and are now offered with some vehicles. But what is the air suspension system and how can it benefit you? We look at several of the pros and cons of air suspension to see if it is right for you.
We also explain how the air suspension system works. Whether you are looking for a smoother ride or an adjustable vehicle height, the air suspension might meet your needs.
What is Air Suspension?
Air suspension uses air pressure instead of springs for suspension. Before we had air suspension systems, all vehicles were equipped with traditional springs and struts. These damping components absorb bumps from uneven road surfaces.
The average strut comes with metal springs, allowing the vehicle to respond in most driving circumstances.
Air suspension is completely different than this traditional design. Instead of metal springs, rubberized air packs are used instead. Still, there are multiple types of air suspension configurations, but the most used is the convoluted air spring.
How Does Air Suspension Work?
Air suspension replaces the leaf or coil springs and puts in rubberized air packs, known as air springs. The air springs are monitored constantly for ride height and pressure.
The system contains an air dryer, an onboard compressor, plus an air reservoir. With this advanced system, the air pressure and ride height are adjustable to provide the ideal amount of ground clearance and a superior ride quality.
Air Suspension Pros
1. Better Ride
Air suspension creates a better ride overall for many reasons. First, vibrations, harshness and road noise are all reduced, creating less driver fatigue and discomfort. Additionally, the air suspension can reduce the bounce that occurs with shorter wheelbase trucks on rough roads.
When traveling at higher speeds, you will also notice an increase in comfort. That’s because the air suspension works better with the road surface, allowing for better control and comfort. When compared with traditional springs, there’s no comparison to the ride air springs offer.
2. Increased Off-Road Capability
If you head off-road, you will appreciate the benefits of the air suspension. These systems allow for increased ground clearance, helping you overcome obstacles with ease.
The air suspension also improves the approach, breakover and departure angles for more fun off-road. With the raised suspension, there’s less chance that you will get the vehicle stuck. You also won’t have to worry as much about damage to the vehicle when the adventure is over.
3. Ability to Lower Vehicle
In addition to raising the vehicle’s height, the air suspension can also lower it. Some people choose to lower the suspension to make the in or out of the cabin easier.
However, there’s another benefit to a lowered vehicle. In some cases, it can create better fuel economy, which is a plus if you are simply driving down the highway.
Air Suspension Cons
1. Higher Cost
The air suspension system contains a lot more advanced technology than using the standard suspension. This added technology means a higher expense. You could easily spend $2,000 or more upgrading to an optional air suspension system.
Additionally, when the air suspension breaks, repairs can be more costly. While a rear coil spring replacement might cost you $100 for parts, you are looking at an average of $500 per air spring. On top of that, paying for a new control module or compressor could easily cost you $1,000 or more.
2. Less Durable
The air suspension system isn’t as durable as the traditional setup. Air bags are susceptible to rupture from road debris, plus the rubber gaskets are known for drying out. On top of that, the lines connecting the air bags and the suspension can break.
After years of use, or if there is a leak in the system, the compressor motors can fail. Plus, the springs will fail if overloaded. Considering the cost of repairs, you could spend not only a lot of money to get the air suspension in the first place but then pay another small fortune when service is required.
Should You Get Air Suspension on Your Vehicle?
Air suspension is a tempting option, but it’s not for everyone. The biggest concern revolves around the cost. Not only are you going to pay a premium upfront for a vehicle with an air suspension, but you must be ready to foot the bill for repairs.
However, if neither of these factors bothers us and you are searching for a better ride, the air suspension is built for you. It will truly elevate your off-road experience and change the way you handle your daily drives. For those that benefit from the air suspension, the cost is well justified.