Hydraulic Suspension Accessories for different automobiles
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Driving on clouds thanks to air suspension
The air suspension is a part of the chassis. It is an alternative to the combination of chassis and shock absorbers. The air suspension has been in use since 1959, especially in upper class limousines, special vehicles (e.g. ambulances) and buses. It offers great ride comfort and driving stability. However, it is structurally much more expensive than the conventional spring/shock systems. Therefore, this suspension with air has not established itself in the mid-range segment and small cars.
Air suspension components
In a conventional chassis, the wheel forces are absorbed by counter-pressure from spring and shock absorber. In air suspensions, a rubber bellow that is kept under high air pressure assumes this role. With a pressure of 5-20 bar, the load on the rubber bellow is very high. This pressure is maintained by a compressor connected to the vehicle's engine. The air pressure is controlled via a valve. Depending on the type of the vehicle, a central valve for all four wheels, a valve per axle or even a separate valve per wheel may be in use. The air is fed between the compressor, valve and rubber bellow by means hoses and pipes. A control unit is also part of this highly comfortable pneumatic suspension system. In air suspension systems, modern electronics maximize the vehicle handling and, above all, the safety.
Functions of the pneumatic suspension
A pressure-based suspension provides a number of additional functions not provided by a conventional chassis. An air pressure suspension can be precisely adjusted in height and hardness. The applications for this are versatile: A lowering of the vehicle at higher speeds reduces consumption of fuel. Particularly uneven surfaces can be countered by lifting the vehicle. During loading and unloading, a lowered vehicle is much more convenient. Yet, when entering and exiting the vehicle, a higher level is more pleasant for passengers. In combination with the control electronics, the air suspension can automatically adjust the vehicle's springing and ground clearance in every situation. An additional manual control maximizes the user-friendliness of air suspensions.
Damage to the air suspension
Due to its complexity, the pneumatic suspension is significantly more prone to errors than conventional steel spring-shock suspensions. In particular, maintaining the air pressure requires a large technical effort. Although the pipes and bellows are technically very simple products, they can take damage first. Aging, wear and mechanical damage can cause leaks in pressurized components. This will result in loss of the air pressure, whereby the suspension's functionality is negatively affected. Under certain circumstances, the air suspension can fail completely.
However, damage in the pressurized systems is quickly found: A loud hissing sound precisely indicates where the leak is located.
The air pressure valves, on the other hand, usually have a quite robust design. Damage to these components is rare. The compressor is a complex piece of technology: It consists of an electric motor, a single-stage gearbox and a helical fan. Nonetheless, these are closed systems, which typically have a long life. Premature failure of this component is usually due to corroded contacts. Costs air suspension replacement parts The high strain on air suspensions makes replacement parts for this type of chassis quite expensive. A single air spring costs between 100 and 900 euro. The valve block costs between 250 and 400 euro. The compressor itself is also estimated between 250 and 500 euro.
A life of about 60,000 to 80,000 kilometers can be expected from these absorbers. Valves and compressors usually have a considerably longer service life. Air suspension for improving the chassis Air suspension retrofit kits are available on the market. They support the regular suspension. These aftermarket kits offer a clear plus in comfort. They cost about 600 euro. They are particularly popular in vans and mobile homes, for they provide control over the ground clearance and ensure a smoother ride.