Custom Air Springs
Production Air Springs
Liftmatic produces a wide array of air springs for trucks and cab suspensions. We also build many custom air springs and shock absorber/air spring combinations.
Custom Air Springs
Over the last decade or so air suspension has become popular in the custom automobile culture: street rods, trucks, cars, and even motorcycles may have air springs. They are used in these applications to provide an adjustable suspension which allows vehicles to sit extremely low yet be able rise to a level high enough to maneuver over obstacles and inconsistencies on paved surfaces. These systems generally employ small, electric or engine-driven air compressors which sometimes fill an on-board air receiver tank which stores compressed air for use in the future without delay. High-pressured industrial gas bottles, (such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide tanks used to store shielding gases for welding) are sometimes used in more radical air suspension setups. Either of these reservoir systems may be fully adjustable, being able to adjust each wheel’s air pressure individually. This allows the user to tilt the vehicle side-to-side, front-to-back, in some instances “hit a 3-wheel” (contort the vehicle so one wheel lifts up from the ground) or even “hop” the entire vehicle into the air. When a pressure reservoir is present, the flow of air or gas is commonly controlled with pneumatic solenoid valves. This allows the user to make adjustments by simply pressing a momentary-contact electric button or switch.
Installation and Configuration
The installation and configuration of these systems varies for different makes and models, but the underlying principle remains the same. The metal spring (coil or leaf) is removed, and an air bag, also referred to as an air spring, is inserted or fabricated to fit in the place of the factory spring. When air pressure is supplied to the air bag, the suspension can be adjusted either up or down (lifted or lowered).
For vehicles with leaf spring suspension such as pickup trucks, the leaf spring is sometimes eliminated and replaced with a multiple-bar linkage. These bars are typically in a trailing arm configuration and the air spring may be situated vertically between a link bar or the axle housing and a point on the vehicle’s frame. In other cases, the air bag is situated on the opposite side of the axle from the main link bars on an additional cantilever member. If the main linkage bars are oriented parallel to the longitudinal (driving) axis of the car, the axle housing may be constrained laterally with either a Panhard rod or Watt’s linkage. In some cases, two of the link bars may be combined into a triangular shape which effectively constrains the vehicles axle laterally.
Often, owners may desire to lower their vehicle to such an extent that they must cut away portions of the frame for more clearance. A reinforcement member commonly referred to as a C-notch is then bolted or welded to the vehicle frame in order to maintain structural integrity. Specifically, on pickup trucks, this process is termed “notching” because a portion (notch) of the cargo bed may also be removed along with the wheel wells to provide maximum axle clearance. For some, it is desirable to have the vehicle so low that the frame rests on the ground when the air bags are fully deflated. Owners generally choose between having their cars ‘tuck’ their wheels into the arches when their air suspension is fully lowered or alternatively, they can choose to go for ‘fitment’ which in partnership with stretched tires sees the arch itself fit in between the tire and rim.
Air suspension is also a common suspension upgrade for those who tow or haul heavy loads with their pick-up truck, SUV, van or car. Air springs, also called “air helper springs,” are placed on existing suspension components on the rear or front of the vehicle in order to increase the load capacity. One of the advantages of using air suspension as a load support enhancement, is the air springs can be deflated when not towing or hauling and therefore maintaining the factory ride quality.