Cargo trucks take various types of cargo across town, states and the nation every day. They are an essential component of conducting business in America. Without cargo trucks, supplies and food wouldn’t make it to their needed destinations. Most cargo trucks rely on an air suspension system to maintain a stable and comfortable ride for both the driver and the cargo. Here’s a quick summary about how those air suspensions work.


Air suspension systems use air springs instead of coil springs in the suspension. While air springs may mimic coil springs by inflating to a specific height and pressure, they are completely different. Coil springs are made from metal while air springs are made from plastic bags and tough rubber. The springs, such as a Firestone air mount , use sensors, electronic controls and an air compressor on board to control the system. The springs compress and inflate adjusting to the height of the ride as you drive.


Air springs adapt better to different load capacities and situations since they have near-instant tuning. Heavy loads can be distributed more evenly with an air suspension system than a metal coil spring system. Compressors operate both automatically and manually. An air suspension system can handle different terrain more easily than standard metal coil suspension systems.


The air suspension systems feature airbags that inflate and compress. The rolling sleeve is used in certain specialty applications. Double-convoluted bags look like hourglasses with slightly better lateral flexibility. Tapered sleeve bags works best in tight areas adjusting slightly better on ride height. They feature a compressor on board that feeds air to the bags via compressed air lines. Often these compressors also feature a drier to eliminate unwanted moisture from the outside air traveling through the compressor. Valves provide the gateway to allow or block air in the system. Electronically-controlled systems use solenoids to vent and fill the bags. The solenoid can adjust the bags to be filled differently depending on the needs of the suspension system. Electronically-controlled systems also feature an electronic control module using sophisticated software or analog controls to run the system.

Without a good suspension system, truck drivers can experience much more fatigue due to increased vibrations in the cab resulting in an increased chance of accidents. Advancements in technology have made these air suspension systems even better than years past. Air suspension systems are increasingly being used outside the commercial market and in the passenger vehicle market because of the benefits.


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Donn Schlosser