Aftermarket Air Suspension Systems: Pros and Cons Explained

Air suspension systems have become increasingly popular in the automotive industry, offering enhanced ride comfort, superior handling, and adjustable ride height. Initially developed for luxury vehicles and heavy-duty trucks, air suspension systems are now widely available in the aftermarket, allowing car enthusiasts to upgrade their vehicles. However, like any modification, aftermarket air suspension systems have advantages and disadvantages. This comprehensive article delves into the pros and cons of aftermarket air suspension systems, providing a detailed analysis to help you make an informed decision. 

What is an Air Suspension System? 

An air suspension system replaces traditional steel coil or leaf springs with air springs, which are flexible rubber bellows filled with compressed air. These systems are typically controlled by an onboard compressor and a series of electronic sensors and valves that adjust the air pressure in the springs to achieve the desired ride height and quality. Aftermarket air suspension kits often include air springs, compressors, air tanks, pressure sensors, and control modules. 

Pros of Aftermarket Air Suspension Systems 

Adjustable Ride Height 

One of the most significant advantages of air suspension systems is the ability to adjust the vehicle’s ride height. This feature is particularly beneficial for: 

  • Off-Roading: Raising the ride height can increase ground clearance, making it easier to navigate rough terrain. 
  • Loading and Towing: Lowering the ride height can simplify loading and unloading while adjusting the suspension can help maintain a level stance when towing heavy loads. 
  • Aesthetics: Car enthusiasts often appreciate the ability to lower their vehicle for a more aggressive, customised look. 

Improved Ride Comfort 

Air suspension systems are known for their ability to absorb road imperfections better than traditional suspension systems. The air springs can be adjusted to provide a softer ride, reducing the impact of potholes and bumps, which is particularly advantageous for long-distance travel and daily commuting. 

Enhanced Handling and Stability 

Air suspension systems can improve handling and stability by automatically adjusting the air pressure in each spring to maintain an even ride height and optimal weight distribution. This feature is especially useful during cornering, braking, and accelerating, as it helps keep the vehicle balanced and stable. 

Versatility and Customisation 

Aftermarket air suspension systems offer a high degree of versatility and customisation. Users can tailor the system to their specific needs, whether off-roading, towing, performance driving, or show purposes. Many systems come with programmable settings that allow users to switch between different ride heights and stiffness levels with the push of a button. 

Reduced Wear and Tear on Components 

By providing a smoother ride and better handling, air suspension systems can reduce the wear and tear on other vehicle components, such as tyres, shocks, and suspension arms. This can lead to longer-lasting parts and potentially lower maintenance costs over time. 

Cons of Aftermarket Air Suspension Systems 

Higher Initial Cost 

Aftermarket air suspension systems can be expensive, depending on the complexity and quality of the kit. This higher initial cost can be a significant drawback for budget-conscious consumers. 

Complex Installation 

Installing an aftermarket air suspension system is typically more complex than replacing traditional springs or shocks. The process often requires specialised tools and knowledge, and improper installation can lead to system malfunctions or even damage to the vehicle. As a result, many vehicle owners opt for professional installation, which adds to the overall cost. 

Maintenance and Repairs 

Air suspension systems require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Components such as air springs, compressors, and control modules are subject to wear and tear and may need periodic inspection and replacement. Additionally, the system’s complexity means repairs can be more complicated and costly than traditional suspension systems. 

Potential for Air Leaks 

One of the most common issues with air suspension systems is the potential for air leaks. Over time, the rubber air springs can develop cracks or punctures, leading to a loss of air pressure and reduced performance. Detecting and repairing air leaks can be challenging and may require professional assistance. 

Reliability Concerns 

While modern air suspension systems are generally reliable, they can be more prone to electronic and mechanical failures than traditional ones. Issues with the onboard compressor, sensors, or control modules can lead to system malfunctions, which can be inconvenient and expensive to fix. 

Key Considerations Before Upgrading 

Before deciding to upgrade to an aftermarket air suspension system, it’s essential to consider the following factors: 

  • Purpose: Determine the primary reason for the upgrade. Are you seeking improved ride comfort, better handling, or a customised look? Understanding your goals can help you choose the right system. 
  • Budget: Consider the system’s initial cost and potential long-term maintenance and repair expenses. Ensure that the investment aligns with your budget. 
  • Vehicle Compatibility: Not all air suspension kits are compatible with every vehicle. Ensure that your chosen system is designed for your specific make and model. 
  • Installation: Decide whether you have the skills and tools to install the system yourself or need to hire a professional. Factor the installation cost into your budget. 
  • Maintenance: Be prepared for the regular maintenance required to keep the system in optimal condition. Understand the potential repair costs and common issues associated with air suspension systems. 

Contact Air Spring Supply Company for details 

Aftermarket air suspension systems offer numerous benefits, but they also have drawbacks. By carefully considering the pros and cons and evaluating your specific needs and budget, you can make an informed decision about whether an aftermarket air suspension system is the right upgrade for your vehicle.  

Contact us today for more information about air suspension systems.