The original purpose of an air bag suspension was to save weight with a compact construction. Heavy vehicles would use these systems to achieve a self-leveling suspension that would create a smoother ride and more accessible transportation.
Car air bag suspension kits have gained immense popularity with gearheads and automotive enthusiasts, but you should always ensure these kits are right for your vehicle before investing in them. To learn whether air bag suspensions are right for you, here's everything you need to know about the pros and cons of air bag suspension kits.
What Is Air Bag Suspension?
An air bag suspension system enables motor vehicles to ride smoothly. These systems replace conventional spring and steel suspensions in larger vehicles such as tractor-trailers, passenger buses and trucks.
There are two types of air bag suspensions:
- Sleeve-style air bags: These air springs enable ride control and lift. For this system, compressed air moves into the spring, resulting in the sleeve extending to achieve the desired ride fit. These systems are well-suited for vehicles with limited space. Light-duty trucks, track cars and custom street rods frequently use this system.
- Bellow-style air bags: Heavy-duty, reinforced rubber comprises bellow-style air bag systems. These air bags are larger than sleeve-style bags, allowing greater load-handling capacity. Due to their shape and size, these bags can lift the same weight as sleeve-style with nearly half the required air pressure. These systems can easily host triple, dual and single chamber designs to apply them to heavy-duty operations within different spatial constraints.
How Does an Air Bag Suspension Work?
Air bag suspension for cars works similarly to a balloon. Air bag suspensions require an electric pump or compressor to power the system. The compressor or pump will force air into the rubber bags to inflate them to a certain air pressure. This design enables resistance against the vehicle's frame weight. The suspension system can keep the vehicle level when it's fully loaded. With the correct pressure, the vehicle will not squat or release air.
Pros of Air Bag Suspensions
Car air bag suspension kits are one of the most popular suspension kits available, and it's easy to see why. They're known to deliver some of the greatest performance benefits and convenience for all types of vehicles. Reasons to consider air bag suspensions include:
- Enhanced comfort: Car air bag suspension kits are most known for helping vehicles achieve a smoother performance. With intricate systems and durable air bags, these suspension systems can float over bumps, compared to traditional coil spring suspensions, which tend to produce a rougher performance in the same conditions.
- Increased flexibility: You can adjust car air bag suspension kits to cater to your specific needs. Some kits are designed to move the vehicle up or down, depending on road conditions, to enhance overall performance. Lowering cars can improve responsiveness and promote a fuel-efficient drive. Raising the vehicle will help to avoid obstacles and bumps in the road.
- Improved capabilities: Car air bag suspension kits on trucks can also be lifted to boost towing and hauling capabilities. These kits contain various parts that allow you to carry heavy cargo without sacrificing performance. When you install air bag suspension kits, you can compensate for any extra weight by raising the vehicle. This helps to keep the vehicle level while towing and hauling and prevents bottoming out, excessive pressure on your tires and rear sagging.
Cons of Car Air Bag Suspensions
While air bag systems are known for their many benefits, you should understand the cons as well. Air bag suspensions are an investment, so make sure that you consider these expenses for your automotive budget if you're thinking about adding an air bag suspension kit to your vehicle. The most prominent cons of air bag suspensions are:
- Installation: Newer systems require less drilling and cutting than older suspensions, but the upfront installation remains a detailed process involving mounting the compressor, tank and manifold.
- Price: The cost to bag a car can vary per vehicle, but these systems are expensive for any vehicle, and repairs and services can add up and become quite costly with time.
- Maintenance: Compared to other suspension parts, air bag suspension systems have been known to fail more frequently. You'll need to schedule extra maintenance and repairs throughout the system's life span.
- Reliability: These systems can experience a lot of stress. If you're not using high-quality components, these suspensions will eventually leak, adding to the maintenance costs and potentially creating unwanted concerns such as compromising your brakes or reducing vehicle control during rides.
Is There an Alternative to Air Suspension Systems?
Air bag suspension pros and cons often leave automotive enthusiasts wondering if an alternative to these systems has the same benefits with a fraction of the investment. You can outfit vehicles that come with factory air suspension systems with a coil spring conversion kit to replace or remove the air suspension. You can work with the existing system to stabilize and strengthen the suspension without needing to readjust your vehicle and keep up with routine maintenance.
Strutmasters specializes in air-to-non-air suspension conversion kits, and we're your suspension experts. Founded in 1999, we've become a suspension industry leader. We offer affordable solutions for those looking to fix costly and complex air, electronic, magnetic and hydraulic suspension systems.
As with any automotive investment, these suspension kits aren't perfectly suited for all needs, and you should always consider the benefits and drawbacks. However, the impressive performance benefits these systems provide outweigh their cons. Air bag suspension systems offer exceptional performance to help your car perform better, making these kits a worthwhile investment.
Contact Strutmasters online to learn more about air bag suspension kits, or call 888-218-9344 today.
If you still have questions or need help finding the right replacement for you, just call our Suspension Experts at 866-358-0127 and they'll be happy to help.