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Air suspension is a type of vehicle suspension powered by an electric or engine driven air pump or compressor. This compressor pumps the air into a flexible bellows, usually made from textile-reinforced rubber. This in turn inflates the bellows, and raises the chassis from the axle. Air suspension is often used in place of conventional steel springs, and in heavy vehicle applications such as buses and trucks. The purpose of air suspension is to provide a smooth, constant ride quality, but in some cases is used for sporty suspensions. Modern electronically controlled systems in automobiles and light trucks almost always feature self-leveling along with raising and lowering functions. Although traditionally called air bags or air bellows, the correct term is air spring (although these terms are also used to describe just the rubber bellows element with its end plates).

While not using high pressure mineral oil (as does the Citron system), the system aims to achieve a result similar to the hydro pneumatic suspension arrangement introduced in 1954 by Citron. In 1901 William W. Humphreys patented a 'Pneumatic Spring for Vehicles'. The design consisted of a left and right air spring longitudinally channeled nearly the length of the vehicle. The channels were con-caved to receive two long pneumatic cushions. Each one was closed at one end and provided with an air-valve at the other end. An early attempted implementation of air suspension was by Messier in the 1920s. Following World War II, William Bushnell Stout built one last prototype Stout Scarab, called the Stout Scarab Experimental. It was shown in 1946 and was more conventional in appearance than the prewar Scarabs, although still equipped with a rear engine. It was 2-door and featured a wraparound windshield. It featured the world's first fiberglass body, and like its metal counterparts, it was monocoque, built up out of only eight separate pieces. It also

featured the world's first fully functioning air suspension system, previously developed by Firestone. It never went into production. General Motors used its experience with commercial bus air suspension to introduce systems for its automobile lines, introducing it as standard equipment on the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham in the 1957 model year. The following year it was offered as optional equipment on all Cadillacs, and in 1959 it was made standard equipment on all Eldorados. Air bellows at each wheel replaced standard coil springs, and had sensors to keep the car level under load and in turns. It was too slow to react in sudden maneuvers. Period reviews rated the air suspension somewhat superior in ride quality, but not dramatically so. An optional air suspension system was available on the 1959 Rambler Ambassadors and for all "Cross Country" station wagon models.[5] The "Air-Coil Ride" utilized an engine-driven compressor, reservoir, air bags within the coil springs, and a ride-height control, but the troublesome nature of the system outweighed its benefits and American Motors discontinued the system after only one year. Cadillac also discontinued air suspension after the 1960 model year. Air suspension would not return to standard production on American-built cars until Lincoln Motor Company introduced it as standard equipment on the Lincoln Continental Mark VII in the 1984 model year. Mercedes Benz equipped W112 Chassis series cars, as well as 300SE sedans and Coupes/Cabriolets with air suspension since 1962. The system used a Bosch main valve (distributing the air pressure) with two axle valves on the front axle and one valve of the rear axle. These controlled an air spring on each wheel axle. This was entirely different from the GM system in that the airspring used a bag mounted on a cone. As the car load increases on the bag it rolls down the cone and this in turn increases the air pressure in the bag. Because of the cone shape the suspension is infinitely variable. The axle valves do three jobs; they are fed reduced air pressure to the front and keep the bag supplied with sufficient air to keep the ride height constant. When the load is relieved they release air back to the car's air dryer. Later versions, such as the W109, included a ride height adjustment feature. The main valve has an extra setting the W112 cars did not have the ability to raise the car up to 50 mm above the normal ride height. The rear valve is fed full air pressure from the reservoir in front, which in turn is kept filled by a single-cylinder air compressor powered by the engine.

In 1964, Mercedes introduced its W100 Chassis car, the 600 Grosse or Grand Mercedes, which remained in production until 1984. The air springs on these are bigger version of those found on the W112 and W109 cars. On the 600 the air also powers the brake servo. Vehicles that use air suspension today include models from Maybach, Rolls-Royce, Lexus, Jeep, Ram, Cadillac (GM), Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Land Rover/Range Rover, SsangYong, Audi, Subaru, Volkswagen, Lincoln, Ford, and Tesla, among others. Citron now feature Hydractive suspension, a computer controlled version of their Hydropneumatic system, which features sport and comfort modes, lowers the height of the car at high speeds and continues to maintain ride height when the engine is not running. The air suspension designs from Land Rover, SsangYong, Chrysler, Subaru, Audi, Volkswagen, Tesla, Porsche, and Lexus models feature height adjustable suspension controlled by the driver, suitable for making it easier to enter the vehicle, clear bumps, or clear rough terrain. The Lincoln Continental and Mark VIII also featured an air suspension system in which the driver could choose how sporty or comfortable they wanted the suspension to feel. Porsche has taken this to the next level on the Panamera with a system that changes the spring rate and damping settings, among other changes, for their sport/track modes. The Mark VIII suspension settings were also linked to the memory seat system, meaning that the car would automatically adjust the suspension to individual drivers. The control system in the Mark VIII lowered the suspension by about 25 mm (1 inch) at speeds exceeding about 100 km/h (60 mph) for improved aerodynamic performance. One way automakers strive to improve gas mileage is by utilizing active suspension technology. Tesla Motors offers an optional "Active Air Suspension" on the Model S to lower the vehicle for

aerodynamics and increased range.

Fig: Pneumatic spring on a semitrailer In addition to passenger cars, air suspension is broadly used on semi-trailers, trains (primarily passenger trains) and buses. One application was on EMD's experimental aero train.

Custom applications
Over the last decade or so air suspension has become extremely 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 manoeuver over obstacles and inconsistencies on paved surfaces. These systems generally employ small, electric or enginedriven 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. 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.

Fig: P Cut-way of a deflated commercial truck air spring bellows. 'A' is the rubber bellows element.

Common air suspension problems

Air bag or air strut failure is usually caused by wet rot, due to old age, or moisture within the air system that damages it from the inside. Air ride suspension parts may fail because rubber dries out. Punctures to the air bag may be caused from debris on the road. With custom applications, improper installation may cause the air bags to rub against the vehicle's frame or other surrounding parts, damaging it. The over-extension of an airspring which is not sufficiently constrained by other suspension components, such as a shock absorber, may also lead to the premature failure of an airspring through the tearing of the flexible layers. Failure of an airspring may also result in complete immobilization of the vehicle, since the vehicle will rub against the ground or be too high to move. However, most modern automotive systems have overcome many of these problems. Airline failure is a failure of the tubing which connects the air bags or struts to the rest of the air system, and is typically DOT-approved nylon air brake line. This usually occurs when the airlines, which must be routed to the air bags through the chassis of the vehicle, rub against a sharp edge of a chassis member or a moving suspension component, causing a hole to form. This mode of failure will typically take some time to occur after the initial installation of the system, as the integrity of a section of airline is compromised to the point of failure due to the

rubbing and resultant abrasion of the material. An air-line failure may also occur if a piece of road debris hits an airline and punctures or tears it, although this is unlikely to occur in normal road use. It does occur in harsh off-road conditions but it still not common if correctly installed. Air fitting failure usually occurs when they are first fitted or very rarely in use. Cheap low quality components tend to be very unreliable. Air fittings are used to connect components such as bags, valves, and solenoids to the airline that transfers the air. They are screwed into the component and for the most part push-in or push-to-fit DOT line is then inserted into the fitting. Compressor failure is primarily due to leaking air springs or air struts. The compressor will burn out trying to maintain the correct air pressure in a leaking air system. Compressor burnout may also be caused by moisture from within the air system coming into contact with its electronic parts. This is far more likely to occur with low specification compressors with insufficient duty cycle which are often purchased due to low cost. For redundancy in the system two compressors are often a better option.[8] In Dryer failure the dryer, which functions to remove moisture from the air system, eventually becomes saturated and unable to perform that function. This causes moisture to build up in the system and can result in damaged air springs and/or a burned out compressor.[9]

Use on coaches and buses

Most factory standard coaches have a system called ferry lift. This allows the air suspension to be raised above the normal ride height level to originally aid loading and unloading the vehicle on and off ferries due to their steep ramps and risk of grounding out, but can be used on rough ground or on steep crests. Although the ferry lift may be installed on some buses, the Kneel Down facility is more common on public transport buses. This allows air to be released from the suspension system to decrease the step that passengers have to climb to enter the bus as they usually level out to curb level. The Kneel Down facility is also used when using the built in wheel chair ramps. The country's cargo shipments ride on air, and now your car can, too. Air suspension systems have long been used in the trucking world, but in the last decade or so, they've moved into the

commercial world. Motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, custom cars, performance cars -- even everyday commuter cars -- are using the suspension systems. Changes in technology mean that systems are no longer clunky, slow and imprecise. Instead, they use fast, precision-based technology with advanced electronics that control everything from ride height to bag pressure, offering a smooth, controlled drive. And it's about time, as the car's suspension system is an often-overlooked area. From a comfort and safety standpoint, your car's suspension is integral to how your car drives. Shock absorbers and coil springs help absorb and direct road force, maintaining wheel oscillation, jounce and rebound. However, every time you add or take away weight to a vehicle, speed up or slow down, or turn left or right, this challenges what the shock absorbers and springs are capable of. Traditional stock shocks and springs are designed and installed with only a fixed set of situations in mind. Air suspension systems essentially replace a vehicle's coil springs with air springs. The air springs are simply tough rubber and plastic bags inflated to a certain pressure and height to mimic the coil springs. But the similarities end there. By adding in an on-board air compressor, sensors and electronic controls, today's air suspension systems provide several advantages over all-metal, conventional springs, including near-instant tuning, and the ability to adapt handling to different situations and vary load capability. Whether the system is manual or electronic, or installed by a weekend mechanic or a seasoned tech, air suspension can lower a car to improve its street cred, even out a heavy payload, or simply improve the ride of a vintage Detroit metal street monster.

Air Suspension System Components

Early versions of air suspension systems were relatively simple. Air bags replaced the coil springs. The bag was inflated to the correct pressure or height with an outside compressor through a valve on the bag. Changes in technology and use added more components, and control, to the system. But today's air suspension systems all have a basic stock of similar components that vary little from maker to maker. The differences come mainly in controls and ease of installation.

Air bag material has changed little over time. The bag is a composite of rubber and polyurethane, which provides structural integrity, air-tight construction, toughness against light abrasion from road debris and sand, and resistance to salt and chemical corrosion. The bags come in three basic shapes:

Double-convoluted bag. This bag is shaped like an hourglass. The design allows for a little more lateral flexibility than the other designs.

Tapered sleeve. This air bag performs the same as any other but is designed to fit in a tighter area and offers a little more adjustability on ride height.

Rolling sleeve. This is also a specific-application air bag. The pertinent differences between the two sleeves are really about ride height and spring control, and what's best for the vehicle and the application.

Most air suspension systems now come with an on-board compressor. The compressor is an electric pump feeding air to the bags through a series of compressed air lines. The compressor is generally mounted on the vehicle's frame, or in the trunk. The vast majority of compressors come with an attached drier. The compressor works by drawing outside air into the pump, compressing it and moving it to the bags. Outside air is often laden with moisture, and

moisture can wreak havoc in a closed system. The drier 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 decrease pressure. More advanced systems add an air tank to maintain pressure and provide an even transition between pressures. Compressors can be activated manually or automatically, and controlled solely by the driver, automatically through an electronic system, or a combination of both. Solenoids, Valves and Lines Of course, there's more to an air suspension system than just a simple bag. Here are the parts the help make an air suspension system work. Lines carry the compressed air to the bags. The lines are similar to common high-pressure air lines and are routed along the frame of the vehicle. While most lines are a rubber/polyurethane composition, they can be replaced with custom steel lines, offering a cleaner look and a more rugged construction. Valves are the gateways for the air to enter various parts of the system. In today's air suspension system, valves play a critical roll in isolating and controlling where air is directed and how. Early generation air suspension systems were two-way setups. Essentially, each left and right air bag was connected by a line and shared air. As the vehicle cornered, one air bag compressed its air and pushed it through the line to the other air bag, which was expanding. This resulted in severe body roll and accounted for part of the reputation air suspension systems had for causing a terrible ride. Now, systems use a series of valves that control this tendency and offer bettering handling. Solenoids are used in electronically-controlled systems to fill and vent each air bag. As the system adjusts for different conditions, it commands each solenoid to open or close, changing the amount of air in each of the bags. Electronic systems are managed through an electronic control module. The controlling software can be very basic, almost a digital version of analog on/off controls, or it might run a more sophisticated software, monitoring pressure and ride height in real time. The modules


receive information through a variety of inputs, including ride-height sensors, and toggle the compressor on and off as needed. The electronic side of the system is where most innovation has occurred, and where changes will likely happen in the future. These systems generally remain separate from the vehicle's on-board modules and communications. Air Suspension Kits Production cars use set shock absorbers and coil springs, and changing those from stock without ruining the car's ride or handling takes time, patience and expertise. And choosing a suspension kit can be a daunting task. There are a multitude of manufacturers and companies selling a wide range of components in a bewildering combination of quantity and quality. Added to the mix is the fact that air suspension kits only replace coil springs, and coil springs are part of a larger suspension system. Given this fact, many companies offer total suspension overhaul kits, where everything from tie rods to control arms and shocks are replaced with high-end components designed to maximize what an air suspension system can offer. However, in general, the most basic kits come with air bags to replace a vehicle's coil springs, along with a compressor and air lines. Most basic kits are a two-way system that can result in heavy body roll. Stepping up the line in price means better components, which means more control and variability, better components, and more speed in making changes. Buying a kit should not be a casual affair. Owners need to put a lot of thought into what they want from a system. The owner of a classic El Camino show car looking to drop his suspension to new lows would need a different system than a heavy-duty pick-up driver looking for better load capacity and control when hauling tools and building material. Similarly, a race driver would be looking for a different level of performance than the driver of a touring car. Top-of-the-line kits use a four-way system coupled with an advanced controller. Each air bag is controlled separately, but they're linked together by the electronic controller for dynamic and static control. When choosing a kit, consumers also need to understand the differences between pressure systems and ride-height systems. Pressure-based systems monitor only the air pressure in the bag. This is fine in most cases when you want to do something like preset a pressure to lower a low-rider at a show.


However, adding ride-height sensors into the electronic mix brings the kit to a new level. Ride-height systems monitor how much a car raises and lowers while monitoring the pressure needed to reach each level. Ride height and pressure come into play in performance applications as well as work applications, like keeping suspension up on a pickup truck loaded with a few tons of mulch. DIFFERENCE SUSPENSIONS: BETWEEN INDEPENDENT & NON INDEPENDENT

Dependent systems may be differentiated by the system of linkages used to locate them, both longitudinally and transversely. Often both functions are combined in a set of linkages. Examples of location linkages include:

Satchell link Panhard rod Watt's linkage WOBLink Mumford linkage Leaf springs used for location (transverse or longitudinal) Fully elliptical springs usually need supplementary location links and are no longer in common use


Longitudinal semi-elliptical springs used to be common and still are used in heavyduty trucks and aircraft. They have the advantage that the spring rate can easily be made progressive (non-linear). A single transverse leaf spring for both front wheels and/or both back wheels, supporting solid axles, was used by Ford Motor Company, before and soon after World War II, even on expensive models. It had the advantages of simplicity and low unsprung weight (compared to other solid axle designs). In a front engine, rear-drive vehicle, dependent rear suspension is either "live axle" or deDion axle, depending on whether or not the differential is carried on the axle. Live axle is simpler but the unsprung weight contributes to wheel bounce. Because it assures constant camber, dependent (and semi-independent) suspension is most common on vehicles that need to carry large loads as a proportion of the vehicle weight, that have relatively soft springs and that do not (for cost and simplicity reasons) use active suspensions. The use of dependent front suspension has become limited to heavier commercial vehicles.

In a semi-independent suspensions, the wheels of an axle are able to move relative to one another as in an independent suspension but the position of one wheel has an effect on the position and attitude of the other wheel. This effect is achieved via the twisting or deflecting of suspension parts under load. The most common type of semi-independent suspension is the twist beam.

Twist beam

The variety of independent systems is greater and includes:

Swing axle Sliding pillar MacPherson strut/Chapman strut


Upper and lower A-arm (double wishbone) Multi-link suspension Semi-trailing arm suspension Swinging arm Leaf springs

Transverse leaf springs when used as a suspension link, or four quarter elliptics on one end of a car are similar to wishbones in geometry, but are more compliant. Examples are the front of the original Fiat 500, the Panhard Dyna Z and the early examples of Peugeot 403 and the back of the AC Ace and AC Aceca.

Fig. A rear independent suspension on an AWD car. Because the wheels are not constrained to remain perpendicular to a flat road surface in turning, braking and varying load conditions, control of the wheel camber is an important issue. Swinging arm was common in small cars that were sprung softly and could carry large loads, because the camber is independent of load. Some active and semi-active suspensions maintain the ride height, and therefore the camber, independent of load. In sports cars, optimal camber change when turning is more important.


Wishbone and multi-link allow the engineer more control over the geometry, to arrive at the best compromise, than swing axle, MacPherson strut or swinging arm do; however the cost and space requirements may be greater. Semi-trailing arm is in between, being a variable compromise between the geometries of swinging arm and swing axle. Working of Air Suspension System The front and rear suspension system or the suspension units on the two sides of the vehicle are connected with each other in an interconnected suspension system. They are also termed collectively as linked system. It was very much effective as compared to independent front and rear suspension units and was able to reduce the tendency of a vehicle to bounce, pitch or roll and was able to provide smooth and comfortable drive. Interconnected suspension system is categorized into an air suspension system, hydrolastic suspension and hydro gas suspension system. The automatic control devices installed in the vehicle allows making optimum use of the variable space for deflection of wheel. The height of the automobile remains steady & so the changes in the alignment of headlamp due to varying loads are restricted. It helps to reduce the load while the vehicle in motion i.e., the dynamic loading as the spring rate variation between laden and unladen weight is much less.It gives smooth and comfort ride of the vehicle.

Air springs are classified into two types: Bellow type and Piston type

Working of Air Suspension System: -

The air springs shown are mounted on the front and rear axle. The atmospheric air first passes through the filter where the dirt is removed and passed on to the compressor. Air is compressed here and the pressure of air is raised from atmospheric to about 250 M Pa. This pressure is maintained by the accumulator tank. The safety relief valve is provided on the accumulator as a safety device and it opens when the pressure rises above 250 M Pa. This air then moves to lift control valve and through leveling valves to the air springs.


Fig: Air Suspension System Air Suspension System Installation In a little tongue-in-cheek attempt at reverse psychology, RideTech, one of the industry leaders in air suspension systems and components, placed the phrase "Do Not Open" on their installation instructions. The biggest problem people faced in installing their new system was that they never read the instructions. The company felt that maybe people would actually open the manual if they were told not to. RideTech illustrates a very valuable point. Installation of even complex systems is possible, but people need to read the instructions and follow them. However, an installation should not be attempted by someone with little knowledge of how to work on cars; someone who has never worked on a suspension; or someone who lacks the tools and facilities to do the job safely and competently. RideTech estimated installation for their muscle car bolt-on kits at 12 to 15 hours for the undercar suspension components, and an additional 10 for the compressor system. Add


another five to six hours if you are adding a leveling system. That said, proper installation will go a long way toward saving money by making sure all of the components work right and are set up to avoid the chafing that most often kills an air suspension system. Air suspension systems are designed to be airtight. Most problems arise when an installer doesn't take the proper precautions, usually outlined in the directions, to ensure the system is as airtight as possible. RideTech approximates that 90 to 95 percent of leaks could be prevented if installers used sealer tape on all threads where advised, and routed lines away from possible chafing points. The company also emphasized being sure that the bags themselves had the proper clearances so they didn't rub against part of the car, and that they were clear of hot components like exhaust pipes and mufflers. A careful and diligent installer would provide a system that could easily last more than a decade. Another thing to consider during installation is tuning. Among the additions suggested by most companies is to change the car's shocks at the same time you change the coil springs to air bags. Shocks are designed to work in tandem with springs, and installing a $4,000-plus air suspension system on a vehicle with factory shocks is a waste of money. The change is relatively simple, but it adds another layer of tuning to the entire project. Air suspension systems are complex and daunting, but they can yield impressive looks and performance if installed and tuned correctly. For lots more information on auto parts, see the links on the next page. ADVANTAGES Excellent Suspension & Comfort to passengers Fully Automatic Level Control Good handling Shields the vehicle from damage Keeps the tires pressed firmly to ground Easy To Service


Lifting & Lowering Function Increases life of vehicle CONCLUSION From the whole discussion in suspension system, I observe that suspension system is like a white blood cell .As white blood cell provides energy to our body to fight against diseases or viruses which try to destroy or try to decrease our life, in the similar way suspension system provides the energy to a vehicle to protect itself from damaging, increasing life of the vehicle, increases the handing, increases comfort of passengers and many more. So, according to me if you remove the suspension system, then you feel like in bullcart in Audi, Mercedes types luxurious cars. The only difference is speed. So, the scope of Suspension System is Too Bright.