Ride height adjustable suspension
"The rise and fall of the car"
With show cars you really want the car to look as "Slammed" or as low as possible but in reality you can't afford to drop a car too much or it will become undriveble over potholes, speed bumps and even slight undulations in the road surface can cause problems. The solution is to have a system installed which allows the cars ride height to be adjusted.
Choosing the right system is fraught with problems. It is fair to say that you will get what you pay for in most cases so the budget options are generally to be avoided. Complete kits designed for your specific model are the way to go if you want a low hassle install, but if you know what you are doing then a better system can be made by sourcing your own components.
The weight of the car comes into the equation as well and when you buy your air bag suspension or hydraulic suspension it will usually have a recommended weight rating. Avoid going to far from reality here as neither extreme is beneficial but we would say to err on the side of caution and specify a system that handles a weight above that of your car. You will need to ask if the weight rating is per set or per
When you install your chosen system you must take your time and ensure that no components are coming into contact with the car bodywork. Where you have to go through a panel you should wrap a rubber shield, washer, grommet or similar around the supply line to prevent wear caused by vibration.
You can't get away with just using standard springs and shocks and padding this out with a sandwich layer to raise and drop the suspension. You must get a complete system with each component matched. Whatever the range of travel is you are advised to get the suspension geometry set up for your chosen "standard ride height". Few systems can maintain anything close to the ideal settings at each end of the ride height adjustment.
You can also get standard suspension with a ride height adjustment but this will generally need to be set and left. Altering this on the car is only possible with a few systems and takes a while and usually requires the car to be jacked up to get access to the adjustment settings. Few of these coilovers will allow much of a range of drop and you will generally have a choice of height but will have to compromise on the spring and rebound rates depending on the selected height.
Problems with air suspension.
Air line components that rub against the bodywork can wear through. If moisture gets into the air system it can cause components to rot from the inside out. Over inflation or anything that moves the suspension out of the usual range of travel can cause accelerated wear. Road debris can cause punctures in the air bags or air lines. The compressor can also fail and in systems with air leaks where the compressor is working much harder than it should it will only be a matter of time before it wears out. When you suffer a complete or partial airbag suspension failure your car will effectively be immobilised as the low or uneven ride height will make it impossible to use on the roads.
Drawbacks of air suspension.
Handling and ride quality will in most cases be compromised. The air system by it's very nature gives a soft woolly ride quality which, although comfortable, doesn't lend itself too well to cornering and general road holding. Airbag suspension systems are usually quite slow to react and take a while to fully rise or drop. If your suspension is not set up properly you will experience accelerated tyre wear.
Problems with hydraulic suspension
Much of the issues around line wear as per air suspension will also apply to the hydraulic suspension systems. Seepage from joints or any part of the suspension system must be immediately investigated. Again the compressor can fail along with other componens and due to the pressures internally you are advised to use the highest quality components.
Benefits of hydraulic suspension.
Unlike air bag suspension the hydraulic system is much firmer and less prone to be soft and woolly at any chosen ride height. The hydraulic systems are also much quicker to react than airbag systems, are generally capable of much wider ranges of travel. A good hydraulic system can also cause a car to literally jump into the air with various competitions springing up (if you pardon the pun) around the world.
Choose your suspension system carefully, don't skimp by buying cheap components and get the system installed properly.
Cutting corners will compromise the ride quality and increase the risk of a failure in the future.
The ride height adjustable suspension kits we have looked at provide a great way to have the slammed show car look but still allow you to use the car on a daily basis. TorqueCars preference is for the more expensive hydraulic systems but where you are working to a budget then the air bag systems are a practical solution and indeed is the one many manufacturers choose to implement on their production models.
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