What is Airbag Suspension?
Air Bag Suspension is a sort of vehicle suspension which is powered by an electric or engine-driven air pump or compressor. The compressor pumps the air into variable bellows, normally made from textile-reinforced rubber. The pressure of the air inflates the bellows and raises the chassis from the axle.
Despite using a metal spring mechanism, strong rubber bags act as air containers. Then the bags are connected to an air compressor and an air reservoir. The compressor inflates and deflates the bags, that is how the car gets raised and lowered.
There are pros and cons of airbag suspension, however, it results in a smoother ride and versatility in performance. These systems have a control unit that is located inside the car to give the driver complete control over the system.
Comparison Between Airbag Suspension And Traditional Suspension System
One of the important differences between a traditional shock or strut is that they have a dampening mechanism set to a certain ride control feel while an air compressor is used in Airbag suspension in combination with air struts and suspension airbags to control the feel of the ride.
There are several things by which one can say that airbag suspension is way better than traditional shocks and struts. Firstly, the ride quality is often controlled by the driver of the vehicle. So, if you want a softer ride you can set your air suspension system to deliver that and vice versa if you are looking for a stiffer, rougher ride. Secondly, you can control ride height, some systems are advanced in that they automatically control this for you.
The last advantage of an air suspension system is weight management. If we load the back of our SUV with a large number of groceries from the store, the air suspension system either automatically adjusts to handle it or you can manually adjust it. For the traditional shocks and struts, the level of rebound is set, and therefore no matter what the weight of your load is, you have to stick with it.
What Happens When You Add An Airbag To Your Existing Suspension?
The answer is, It’s important to remember that the addition of any airbag system does not allow higher payloads or towing capacity to your current vehicle. We have to take into account that other systems on your truck, that includes braking and cooling, are rated for specific manufacturer rated capacity. Exceeding these ratings is not safe and can be a very costly mistake, even with the addition of an airbag arrangement that is theoretically capable of carrying additional weight. But like all things air ride suspension has pros and cons.
Let us discuss the pros and cons of airbag suspension.
The Pros Of Using Airbag Suspension
Airbag suspension offers various important benefits that may be useful to drivers interested in luxury cars. The main benefit is ride quality: Vehicles with air suspension are often said to “glide” over bumps, while traditional steel spring suspension can cause a harsher ride. Also, air suspension is often adjustable. This means drivers can select a cushy ride if they’re on a rough road or a harsh ride if they want to improve handling.
Another important benefit is that SUVs or trucks with the feature boast improved towing capabilities. In most of these SUVs or trucks, drivers can increase firmness when towing to account for heavier loads. That’s not the reality of SUVs or trucks with spring suspension, where large loads can weigh down the vehicle.
The Cons Of Using Airbag Suspension
On the other hand, air suspension may be tempting, there are two downsides, both relating to cost. One is the cost of buying it in the first place. Mostly in vehicles even in luxury models, it comes at an extra cost. Cars which have very high end have it and SUVs such as the Mercedes S-Class and the Range Rover include it as standard. In other cars, it is an expensive option.
For shoppers interested in a used car, the bigger drawback of the feature is maintenance costs. Air suspension is great when it works but it can be expensive to fix. And it is a feature you can not simply forget about: If it breaks, the car can tilt to one side while moving. It is said that many drivers replace broken systems with more traditional steel springs that is a cheaper fix, but one that removes an important feature from the vehicle.
That’s all for airbag suspension pros and cons, if you’re interested in a new car that offers optional air suspension, be sure to test drive models with the feature and without it. That way, you can decide if it’s worth the added cost. If you’re looking for a used car with it, be sure to get a mechanical inspection before signing the papers.
If you have any doubts in our article about air ride suspension pros and cons, please let us know in the comments below.
However, that even a well-inspected system can break as it ages, so you’ll want some room left in your budget for a repair if it’s necessary.