How Do Air Springs Work? - A Simplified Guide
For most people, their knowledge of air springs stops here; “air springs help improve comfortability whenever the vehicle is in motion”
But have you ever stopped and thought, “How do air springs work? What makes it work? And a host of other things that pertain to the physics of air springs”.
Not until now;
Well — that’s what this blog post is all about; to show you in very simple terms the processes by which an air spring works.
You’ll also discover the following:
- The purpose of air ride suspension.
- The key component of the air suspension system.
- Causes of premature air ride spring failures
- What is the right thing to do anytime you sense an airbag suspension failure?
One more thing!
After you’re done reading this post, you’ll realize how ridiculously easy it is to understand how air springs work.
So, stay with me as we get things underway.
What Is The Point Of Air Springs?
- Air spring help to maintain the optimal riding level for your car so that even if it carries an unusually heavy load that might cause it to sag, the mechanics of the air spring system would bring it back to the normal level.
- Having air springs on your car also helps to reduce suspension fatigue and bottoming out. Suspension fatigue is usually caused by incessant vibrations emanating from driving the vehicle.
- Air springs are installed in vehicles to guarantee comfort regardless of how poor the road is or rugged the terrain may be. Air springs will prevent the passengers of a vehicle from getting roughened up by the impact of such roads.
- The result of the above-mentioned implies that a car with air springs installed would have more stability.
What Are The Key Component Of The Air Suspension System?
● Air Fitting:
This is a threaded hole that allows air to flow into the air spring to be from the air compressor.
This helps to hold the airline in position once it is threaded into the air fitting of the air spring. Air springs could incorporate a bolt/nut/mount and air fitting combination device.
● Crimped Bead plate
This component is typically made of steel, alloy (zinc), aluminum and it encloses the air spring and allows room for attachment.
● Air Bellows:
This is otherwise tagged as the heart of the air spring. Made of rubber or neoprene, it has four layers of material, i.e. inner, outer, and a double layer of fabric reinforced cord. It contains gas.
This is a part of the crimped bead plate attaching the air spring to the suspension.
Only found in air springs of convoluted design, separating the bellows chambers.
● Bump Stop:
It is an optional feature that helps prevent damage to the vehicle, in the case where the air spring fails.
● Pneumatic Solenoid Valves:
Pneumatic solenoid valves are electromechanical devices that control the flow and direction of air in the air spring system.
This component provides attachment for the air spring at the base through bolts, nuts.
How Do Air Springs Work
The entire process of how air spring works are regulated automatically. However, I will endeavor to break it down as simply as possible.
You’ll also find a practical video illustration of the steps I listed here right at the far end of this section.
- First off, your car must maintain a specific riding level at all times but this would change when;
- Loads are placed on your vehicle; as you increase the weight of the load on your vehicle, the stock spring in turn instantly begins to compress and this means the riding height of your vehicle will sag below the normal level.
- Once the sensor attached to the system senses the change in normal vehicle height, the air compressor automatically receives a signal which turns it on.
- Air flows from the air compressor to the affected air springs. The solenoid valves will first open before the air is allowed access into the air spring.
- Air will continue to flow into the air suspension until the vehicle returns to its normal height.
But what happens when the load is removed? Find out below.
- Yes! You guessed right, the vehicle would ride at a level higher than its normal riding level and the same process would repeat with a few changes.
- The solenoid valves would open to allow the excess air in the air spring to rush out into the air compressor.
- And the air compressor passes out excess air into the atmosphere.
Causes of Premature Air Ride Spring Failures
Findings reveal that air springs are expected to last a period of 10 years before you’ll ever need to repair or replace them. But in reality, this is far from being the case.
Here are the top reasons for premature air spring failures and how you can avoid them (like the plague)
- Overload: Using the vehicle to transport excessive loads. This will inevitably damage the air bellows or pistons.
Tip: To prevent this, do not overload the air spring!
- Operating the air spring without internal air pressure; hastens the wear of the air bellows.
Tip: The best thing is to operate the car with adequate air pressure.
- Abrasion of air bellows against other defective air spring parts or foreign particles like stones.
Tip: Regularly check the air spring area to remove foreign objects.
What Is The Right Thing To Do Anytime You Sense An Airbag Suspension Failure?
The right thing to do is to drive it down to a mechanic’s workshop so your vehicle is diagnosed with any mechanical faults. I strongly recommend against driving a vehicle that has air spring problems. The consequences are always dire, and I don’t want that for you.
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