Nowadays when considering a suspension mod you have your choice in picking from either airbags, dropped spindles, lowering coils or hydraulics. But for the sake of this article we’re going to concentrate on “bag” technology from three reputable companies in the industry: Air Ride Technologies, Chassis Tech and Universal Air. Each of the companies’ products has different traits, but they all have one thing in common, the use of air as a suspension-altering element.
Some offer similar features in their product and are just about as “bolt on” as you can get. But there will be variables when choosing an air-powered strut; wheel and tire diameters, and whether or not the car will be a daily driver or just for show. If it’s just for looks, then the ride height or “slam-appeal” will be more important that the handling aspect. On the other hand, if you’re going to be doing the daily drive then the change to air will be a quite a change to your driving habits. There will have to be a happy medium as to just how high or low you’ll be able to safely drive down the road and around curves and turns.
Here are a few quick dos and (mostly) don’ts: Do have the car realigned after the suspension has been installed onto your ride. One obvious thing, you can’t drive the car totally slammed because your fenders will sit on the actual tires, making the car bottom-out and be non-driveable. Don’t drive the car so low that the bags are collapsed because the bags will eventual rupture from wear and tear. Or, if you ride the car locked up all of the time you’ll have a harsh (stiff) ride and the strut mounts will tend to crack and break. Usually the uppers will go out first before anything else. So find a happy medium where that car can still be flossin’ down the avenue but not be a hazard for both driver and pedestrian.
If you want get something really cool and basic, get with the gang at Chassis Tech, who can offer a ton of applications through mail order as well as online. Their version of the strut offers a direct bolt-on application, adjustable strut to the top of the tire from maximum drops. There’s no cutting, welding or fabrication; it’s complete, ready to go and manufactured by AIM Industries.
Air Ride’s design uses the proven technology of their successful ShockWave series applied to a McPherson strut suspension. This is a killer benefit for the sport compact owners, as they can now install a bolt-on air suspension with no problemo! The Air Strut has an adjustable valve at the top of the strut stem; just pop the hood and dial in the ride characteristics, from firm to a soft, depending on your want of taking the corners hard or cruising Whittier Boulevard in style. The strut can achieve a 2-inch drop at ride height and up to 4 inches when slammed in the parking lot. No need to have a harsh ride when you can dial it in with Air Ride Technologies.
From Universal Air, the air spring bag with a hole! This quality patented product fits over any OEM McPherson-type strut with a diameter of 2.1 or less, and is especially effective on Honda Civic, Acura RSX, Chrysler PT Cruiser and VW Beetle as well as other applications. Based in Southern California and owned by true innovators in the custom car scene, Universal Air offers complete systems for just about every car. They also stock components separately such as air compressors, air tanks, switches and valves, as well as complete air systems.