Air Suspension Pros and Cons (and How it Works)

(Updated on April 10, 2020)

All vehicles have suspension systems but not all of them have air suspension systems. What makes an air suspension system so different is that it uses an air compressor or air pump to power the vehicle’s suspension. This air pump will usually get its power from the engine or through the electronic components of the vehicle. Since the bellows are typically made from rubber and are very flexible, air gets pumped into them. When the bellows inflate from the air, the chassis gets raised off the axle.

Air suspension systems are often found in high-end luxury vehicles. Sometimes they are just an option while other times, they come standard with the vehicle. Air suspension is certainly not a necessity, so it is considered an added benefit to owning an expensive vehicle. However, there are mixed feelings about air suspension systems from the people who’ve already experienced using them. To help you decide if they are right for you, below are some of the pros and cons of air suspension systems.

The Pros

The main reason that people purchase luxury vehicles is they drive wonderfully. There is very little shakiness or noises coming from the components of a luxury vehicle. They offer a smooth drive on the road without any annoying irritations. When the vehicle has an air suspension system, it is supposed to make it more comfortable when you drive over bumps or potholes. Users have claimed that air suspension allowed them to “glide smoothly” when they drove over various bumps in the road. Compare this to the standard steel spring suspension system where driving over a bump will rattle the vehicle and make everyone inside feel uncomfortable.

Since the air suspension system is controlled by electronics, the driver can adjust the suspension based on the conditions of the road. For instance, when you approach a road with a lot of rocks and rough areas, you can adjust the suspension so that it will make this driving experience more pleasant for you.

The Cons

Now let’s talk about what is wrong with the air suspension system. For starters, it is a lot more expensive than the steel spring suspension. This expensive price will be reflected in the price of the vehicle which has air suspension in it. That is why they are usually found in luxury cars only. If you can only afford an economy class vehicle, then do not expect to find any with an air suspension system. They only have steel spring systems.

In addition to the air suspension being in more expensive vehicles, the maintenance costs of them will also be more expensive. A lot of users complain that air suspensions tend to have a shorter lifespan than steel spring suspensions. Meanwhile, the air suspensions will need repairs more frequently and those costs will be very expensive. If you don’t repair the suspension and it remains not working, then your vehicle could potentially tilt to the left or right as you are driving.

Read also: Semi-Automatic Transmission Overview, Pros and Cons

The Verdict

The driving experience of a vehicle with an air suspension system is wonderful. When the system is functioning well, you will enjoy every minute of this experience. However, you must be someone who is not afraid to spend the extra money on a luxury vehicle. The cheapest price tag on such a vehicle is $50,000 easy. On top of that, you must contend with the maintenance costs too. If you are not ready for all this expense, then stick with the classic economy cars with the steel spring suspensions. Those vehicles are cheaper to purchase, and their suspensions are cheaper to maintain.

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