What Are Air Springs?
Air springs are used in heavy-duty vehicle suspension systems. They provide a two-fold advantage over mechanical leaf- or coil-springs. One advantage is the extra comfort provided from being able to vary the air pressure inside the spring. This changes the spring rate and ride quality. Another advantage of the variable air pressure control is that they adjust the deck or trailer height, aligning loading docks to the level of the deck when dock plates are not available.
Air springs have provided unique solutions for various applications, such as shock absorbers, vibration isolators, and tensioners. They are incredible vibration isolators and have been used on vibrating hoppers.
Two types of air springs
The rolling lobe or reversible sleeve
The rolling lobe air spring uses a single rubber bladder that folds inward and rolls outward, depending on how far and in which direction it is moved. It is available with very high usable stroke length but is limited in strength as it tends to bulge, limiting its force capacity.
The convoluted bellow
This type of air spring uses one to three shorter bellows reinforced by a girdle hoop. Convoluted air springs can handle ten times the force of a rolling lobe and have a longer life cycle rating. However, they have less usable stroke to work with.
The benefits of adding air springs
Air springs help solve these common problems linked to towing and hauling.
When the rear-end of your vehicle sitting low as the result of a heavy load, this is called squat or sag. You can lift it back up with air springs. When towing, adjust the air springs to accept the tongue weight of the trailer.
Reduce poor braking and steering
As front tires handle the majority of braking and steering, air springs ensure that weight is distributed to all four tires for optimal braking and steering.
Eliminate poor headlight aim
Squat can cause your vehicles’ headlights to be tilted away from the road. Air springs levels the rear-end of your vehicle, improve its stability and ensures proper headlight aiming.
Reduce trailer sway
When towing a trailer, air springs allow precise tow-vehicle-to-trailer-height adjustment for perfect alignment, practically eliminating trailer sway.
Ease a rough ride
Air springs significantly improve ride quality as they absorb road imperfections while keeping your tires on the road for better handling.
Eliminate bottoming out
This is another problem caused by squatting. Air springs restore the normal ride height when loaded or towing, so you don’t have to worry about crashing on road bumps and driveways or excessive wear on your vehicle’s suspension.
Let’s put a spring in your ride
Whether you need air springs for the commercial truck, trailer and bus industry or the 4×4 leisure vehicle industry, get in touch with Air Spring Supply Company, South Africa’s sole distributor for the Firestone Industrial Products Company.