are air bags really better handling than a standard suspension or no? - Hot Rod Forum : Hotrodders Bulletin Board
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Old 07-30-2014, 07:35 PM
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are air bags really better handling than a standard suspension or no?

How do air bags ride compared to a normal suspension with shocks and springs/leaf springs? Are the air bags closer to the comfort of a cadillac and better handling? Im about to get my mustang 2 ifs kit installed.... and im thinking about what would it take to make my 1957 chevy truck ride better than what it did once before... sway bars? I've heard monogram springs ride like **** lol...

Anybody have any experience with air bags vs standard suspension

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Old 07-31-2014, 03:58 AM
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There are good & bad things about an airbag suspension. I have a friend who has a lead sled Merc. It sits on 4 air bags and it does ride nice and is fully adjustable at the touch of a button. But have one bag develop a leak and then you're outta luck. To mre that's the downside.............leaks.
My car has 4 wheel coilover suspension. And those are also fully adjustable and give a very smooth ride but no chance of a slow leak in a bag.
I am really not a fan of relying on air to suspend a vehicle. To me, bags are strictly for groceries.
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Old 07-31-2014, 05:58 AM
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To me an airbag suspension is for those vehicles that when you pull into a show, you can drop the vehicle to the ground. They can be infinitely adjusted for ride but are not a total fixit for an ill handling vehicle. You still need a properly designed, installed and adjusted base suspension system. They do take a bunch of fiddling to set up, then are for the most part, pretty trouble free. As far as leaks, many if not most these days, 18 wheel trucks rely on air suspension. Yes, there are some occasional leaks though seldom the bags themselves, but at the lines and fittings. I have air bags on my Ford F250 rear suspension - they were filled in May with 40 psig. On Tuesday, still had that same pressure. That truck hauls a bunch of travel trailer pin weight. Now, are air bags a way to go on a street car - IMO, no. Again, my experience - my '31 had very heavy coil over springs, as supplied by TCI Chassis. It rode like a lumber wagon. I did my vehicle weighing and some calculations then put what I consider the correct ones on - not a Cadillac ride, but very nice, a little firm and the car handles very well with no wallow, wander or bone shaking crashing ride. The springs can be easily adjusted for a little more or less firmness in about a half hour.

But with all that said, if you want the complexity and additional maintenance of an air compressor/air bag ride, it is your vehicle.
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Old 07-31-2014, 06:39 AM
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I designed air bags into the rear suspension on the back of my Model T Ford roadster pickup. I just used a single schrader valve and flexible air lines. It also has front and rear sway bars. No big deal, rides and handles great. I also like that the height can be easily adjusted.

Air bags should work equally well on your big ole '57 truck too... and yes you will definitely want sway bars.
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Old 07-31-2014, 02:50 PM
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I have installed several air suspensions, both kits, and of my own design. There is more to it than just installing the bags.

First off you need plenty of clearance around the bags, I shoot for at least 1" clearance. When you hit a bump with the car, the bag gets bigger around, and if something is too close it will wear a hole in the bag in no time.

Hose and fittings. I don't use the push to connect fittings, they too often leak. I use only DOT brake hose and fittings, as long as they don't get hot, they won't get leaks. Heat can melt the hose.

If you plan on diving it, you need leveling valves. One on each side at the front, and at least one in the rear, two if it's independent suspension. The leveling valve will hold it at the correct ride height under all loads. If you try to do it with pressure gauges, ride height will vary with load, and the tires will wear out quickly.

Most manufacturers make bags with internal stops, so the vehicle can be driven with flat bags. The only time I might use bags without internal stops, would be if you want to "lay frame" which I think makes a car look broken, and is not safe to drive that way.

If you want to drop it at shows, you can use air solenoids to shut off the air to the leveling valves, and exhaust the air from the bags.
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Old 08-01-2014, 04:36 AM
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I have thought about this a lot and, like most responders just don't want to deal with all of the extra hassle, maintenance and possible headaches a true airbag suspension will cause.
Being in Michigan I also think about the moisture that developes in the lines as the bags are inflated or deflated. It gets pretty cold here and one thing that concerns me is what happens to the lines, pumps and solenoids when that water freezes in them. I don't think it would be good.
Just some stuff to think about. I know lots of guys run this stuff with no problems but I don't see much of it here in MI.
Mark
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Old 08-01-2014, 06:01 AM
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Air Bag Suspension.

Air bags are fitted to vehicles that do more miles a year than most of us will do in our lives. Have a close look and nearly every truck and trailer out on the highway and you will see air bag suspension. The problem most have with leaks is poor routing of the hoses.

Max
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Old 08-01-2014, 06:04 AM
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Thank you everyone. I decided against air bags ... maybe later though
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Old 08-01-2014, 06:15 AM
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Im going to install the four link in the back coil over springs etc...
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Old 08-01-2014, 06:24 AM
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Like all things it depends on the quality of the installation. The DOT push fittings and plastic lines are fine. Millions of trucks use them and are safe.

You can make an air bag vehicle ride like a lumber wagon if the bags are too small. It can also have a very supple ride if you go with oversize bags. But you do need sway bars as was mentioned. An air bagged vehicle can ride and handle just as well as a sprung suspension if setup correctly.

Not all bags increase in diameter when pumped up. Slam Specialties bags do not increase in size and also have internal bump stops.

It's best to run a load leveling system. This way the suspension can be aligned at your desired ride height and your tires will last a lot longer. These types of systems cost more than the basic pressure gauged systems but give you a lot more control. Most have presets that let you return to a certain ride heights with the push of a button.

Another thing to consider are the shocks you use. They can make or brake any suspension system. There are quite a few companies making single, double and even triple adjustable shocks. You can fine tune for comfort or performance once you determine the correct spring rate or bag size for you vehicle. Viking Shocks even has a self adjusting computer controlled shock called the Berzerker. Probably more than most want to spend on shocks but the possibilities are endless.

The bottom line. It's all in the setup how you car/truck will ride.
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