Most of the air suspension systems now come with an on-board compressor. The compressor is an electrical pump that supplies air to the bags through a series of compressed air lines. The compressor is generally mounted on the frame of the vehicle or in the trunk. The vast majority of compressors come with an attached dryer. The compressor works by drawing the air out of the pump, compressing it and moving it to the bags. Outside air is often loaded with moisture, and in a closed system, moisture can cause havoc. The dryer uses a substance known as a desiccant to absorb as much moisture from the air as possible before the air is sent through the system.
Simpler compressor systems rely on the compressor itself to maintain, increase or reduce the pressure. More advanced systems add an air tank to maintain pressure and ensure an even transition between pressures. The compressors can be activated manually or automatically and controlled solely by the driver, automatically by means of an electronic system or a combination of both.
Air suspension has several advantages over traditional shocks and struts. The first is that the quality of the ride is often controlled by the driver of the vehicle. Therefore, if you want a softer ride, you can set up your air suspension system to deliver it, and vice versa if you're looking for a stiffer, rougher ride. The second advantage is that you can control the height of the ride, some systems are advanced in that they automatically control it for you. The ultimate advantage of the air suspension system is weight management. If you load a large number of grocery stores on the back of your SUV, the air suspension system either adjusts to handle it automatically or you can adjust it manually. For traditional shocks and struts, the rebound level is set, so whatever the weight of your load is, you have to stick with it. This often results in a sagging rear end when carrying a heavy load.
Air suspension increases the transport capacity of trucks and trailers by providing better grip to the entire suspension. The air suspension system can also be adjusted for the feel, so that drivers can choose between a softer feel for highway cruising or a tougher ride for improved handling on more demanding roads.
In the case of heavy loads, air suspension offers more consistency and keeps all wheels even. The air suspension system keeps the trucks level from side to side, especially in cases where it is difficult to level the cargo. This results in a reduced body roll when corners and curves are turned.
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