Everything you Need to Know About Air Bag Suspensions
This short article looks at airbag suspension systems as they have evolved over the last one hundred years. That’s right, air ride has been around since the horseless buggy was first created!
More recently, airbag supplemental systems (assisting the primary suspension) have evolved into kits for pickups, SUVs, Motorhomes, and trailers. As you will discover, airbag systems are getting pretty sophisticated but the price is too high for the average income earner. Check it out…
What is an airbag suspension system and how does it work?
Airbag systems for cars and trucks – not to be confused with airbags installed inside the cab that inflate during a collision – can be grouped into two categories:
- Complete air suspensions, intended to replace the standard springs entirely.
- Supplemental systems intended to boost the capacity of the existing suspension.
We’re going to concern ourselves with a supplementary system that serves as an auxiliary spring.
To understand an airbag system, you need to understand an airbag. An airbag used in an airbag suspension system is basically a rubber bladder that holds air, just like a basketball or a football. Some are designed to sit above the leaf spring or outside the coil spring, and some fit inside the coil.
Airbags need to be filled with compressed air. Unlike rubber or metal helper springs, it’s the air in the airbag that does the lifting. Airbags are connected to an air supply so that compressed air can either be fed into the airbags to raise the vehicle or released to lower the vehicle.
An onboard air compressor keeps the air tank full of compressed air as needed. The air tank is connected to the airbags via rubber hoses that are long enough to reach each bag (bladder). When the compressed air in the air tank drops below a certain point, the air compressor kicks in to refill the tank. When the tank has been refilled, it shuts off automatically.
Why are they so expensive? Does ‘more expensive’ mean it's better?
Airbag suspensions have a long history that began about 100 years ago. The first recorded air suspension was designed for a motorcycle in the U.K. by Air Springs Limited in 1909.
During World War II, the U.S. developed air suspensions for heavy aircraft in order to reduce weight for compact construction.
In 1950, Air Lift Company patented an air spring that is inserted into a car's factory coil spring. The air spring expanded into the spaces in the coil spring, keeping the factory spring from fully compressing, and the vehicle from sagging.
By 1980, Firestone had acquired Ride-Rite to expand its products for the automotive and RV aftermarket.
As airbag systems became more sophisticated, their popularity began to grow among those who could afford them: People who owned RVs and horse trailers pretty much needed to install a system that would protect their precious cargo.
Needless to say, the average American wasn’t going to spend their hard-earned money on a system that was too costly. Airbag suspensions were ‘nice to have but not altogether practical.
How easy are airbags to install by yourself?
Unless you have the proper tools and skills to install a ‘million-dollar’ system, you’re gonna need to rely on a team of professionals to install it properly. Here are the average costs for a basic kit, optional upgrades, and installation...
Basic kit: $700.00
Optional Upgrades: $1,000.00
Installation: $1,000.00 - $1250.00
You could install an airbag suspension upgrade if you have the time, the tools, and the skillset. If not, you’d be wise to let a professional do it for you.
If you’re considering the purchase of an airbag suspension, you need to be aware of more than just the advantages. Even though you will be rewarded with great ride quality, you should weigh the pros against the cons:
- Airbag suspension cost
- Airbag suspension installation
- Airbag suspension leaks
Is there a better alternative to airbags?
If you are an average American with an average middle-class income, you will be pleased to know that there are lots of additional options: Metal (add a leaf or add a coil), polyurethane, and rubber.
When trying to make an informed choice as to which helper springs are best for you, there are a number of factors that you should consider.
Design: Is the product simple or complex? Is it easy to install? Does it require a lot of maintenance?
Cost: Some products cost more than others. Which one will give you the biggest bang for your buck?
Ride quality: What is the ride like with and without a load? Does the product enhance the ride or compromise ride quality? Some helper springs don’t absorb road shock.
Stability: Just because the product levels the load doesn’t mean that the vehicle will remain stable. Some products don’t really address the problem of body roll and sway.
Longevity: How long has the product been on the market? Does the product have a good warranty? Does the company offer a customer satisfaction guarantee?
To find a simple design, easy installation, and low maintenance, look no further than Timbren SES upgrades. For low cost, reliability, and longevity in any climate, your best bet is Timbren SES upgrades. For great ride quality – loaded or unloaded – and maximum stability, the ticket is Timbren SES upgrades.
How easy is the Timbren SES system to install?
If you can remove a set of factory-installed bump stops, you can install a set of Timbren SES suspension upgrades!
Most SES kits take about 30 minutes to install... (15 minutes to remove the original bump stops and 15 minutes to install the SES kit). Some kits take even less time (about 15 minutes).
Once you have installed a Timbren SES suspension upgrade, you won’t need to worry about them anymore. Easy-to-install SES kits are self-adjusting, giving you support only when you need it most. Here is a list of benefits that you can look forward to once they’re installed:
- Easy to install
- Stronger than steel
- More reliable than air
- Very low maintenance
- No BS Lifetime Warranty
- 100-day Satisfaction Guarantee
For a clear comparison between an airbag suspension vs Timbren SES, click here.