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air bag suspension for towing

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Air bag suspension kits are a form of air suspension that can provide support and comfort under very high loads.

air spring diagram

Air Lift Air Spring Installed

The air bag system, sometimes called air bellows, is very common on semi-truck and pickup truck applications. This is due to the requirements to handle high load, but can also be contributed to the fact that the truck must be able to handle various loads.

The air bags can be pumped up and handle a significant amount of air pressure in case of heavy load that will allow the proper amount of support for the suspension system. In other cases the truck may be unloaded. In this case, using a suspension tight enough to handle heavy loads would result in a very rough ride.

With the air bag system, the air pressure can be reduced for maximum comfort. This is especially useful in semi-trucks as the engines commonly have air compressor and the suspension can be modified easily at any time.

RELATED: Top 5 Lift Kits for Trucks


The other high load applications that use this may be pickup trucks that do heavy hauling at times and just normal driving at other times. Many of the kits available online come with air compressors to enable these systems to also be able to modify the suspension at any time.

air lift 1000 series rear air spring firestone w237604135 coil rite kit air lift 25592 load controller
AIR LIFT 60818 1000 Series Rear Air Spring Kit Firestone W237604135 Coil-Rite Kit AIR LIFT On Board Air Compressor System
1000 lb Capacity 1000 lb Capacity Low Pressure Sensor
See Price See Price See Price

Benefits of Air Bag Suspension

The main benefit of this system is to allow maximum ride comfort. For the reasons stated before, trucks capable of heavy loads would be very uncomfortable when riding unloaded if not for using an adjustable suspension system.

Air bag systems are capable of supporting heavy loads without impacting ride height. This is very important for handling of the vehicle as well. If the back of the vehicle drops, that means the front of the vehicle raises. Since the wheels used for steering are on the front of the vehicle, losing full contact with the ground results in poor handling.

Other benefits are seen in more complex systems that have their own controllers. In these systems the suspension will raise or lower based on the conditions experienced.

The main specifications used for the air bag suspension kits is the maximum amount of air pressure that it can hold as well as the maximum weight it can support without allowing the ride height to be altered. Most of the high end kits are rated to operate at up to 200 psi.

Many of the kits also come with air compressors allowing for the suspension to be changed on the go. A common rating for the air bags reached up to 2600 lbs of support per air bag. The primary construction of the air “bag” which is used is rubber.

Top Rated Brands

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AIR LIFT 57215 LoadLifter 5000 Firestone Ride-Rite 2550 Hellwig 6012 Air Spring
5000 lb capacity 5000 lb capacity 5000 lb capacity
See Price See Price See Price

There are a few different go to name brands when it comes to air bag suspension systems. The primary ones are Air Lift, Firestone and Hellwig. That being said, the two most popular are the Air Lift and Firestone systems.

When reviewing on Amazon, all 3 brands have very high reviews, but the large percentage of products with reviews are the Air Lift products, which also likely means that they have sold a lot more than the competitors.

One of the most popular products is the Air Lift 57215 LoadLifter 5000 Series. This product has up to 5000 pounds of leveling capacity.

A similar product from Firestone would be the Firestone 2550 Ride-Rite. This system has a capacity of up to 5,000 pounds as well and can adjust air pressure from 5 to 100 psi. Systems to control the pressure from inside the vehicle are also available.

Conclusion

Air bag suspension kits have a number of advantages. The overall drive quality is better as the stiffness can be adjusted to suit the specific needs of the day, and this would also allow handling to be optimized as well to ensure proper contact of the front wheels with the road.

Another advantage of this system is for systems with internal controls that enable the ride height to be adjusted for proper handling during tight cornering maneuvers.