When embarking on a long journey, we would like our trip to be safe and comfortable. Unfortunately, a typical motorhome suspension will not always meet your high expectations. Air suspension may be a rescue.
Most motorhomes have a mechanical suspension, which includes, among others, springs or springs. In practice, it turns out to be "sufficient", but nothing more. A large and heavily loaded car with such a suspension reacts hard to any unevenness, and what is worse, at times (e.g. in fast corners) it gives the impression of being unstable. That is why people who travel a lot or who particularly care about comfort and a sense of safety are increasingly choosing air suspension.
- Pneumatic suspensions have the ability to adjust their hardness to the current needs - explains Michał Gąsior, head of the air suspension department at Elcamp. - By increasing or decreasing the pressure in the cushions, we allow the suspension to work in the optimal range, regardless of the current axle load. As a result, a well-positioned air suspension ensures better vehicle stability - he emphasizes.
A particularly clear improvement occurs in the case of using full air suspensions , where the automation makes sure that the pressure in the cushions is properly adjusted to the current situation. Thanks to this, we limit the sway of the vehicle, leaning to the sides, and we also improve the filtration of all minor unevenness of the surface. This, in turn, creates the effect of the vehicle "floating" on the road, but not swinging.
However, we need to know that there are basically two types of suspensions on the market. In addition to full pneumatics, we can also choose a booster suspension .
Assist air suspension
The supporting air suspensions are quite simple systems, mostly manually controlled. This type of suspension works with the original suspension, and the airbag is usually installed between the spring and the vehicle frame. They do not provide as much comfort improvement as full pneumatics, but with heavy vehicles the improvement in driving stability is clear.
In simple power steering suspensions, steering is almost always done manually, i.e. the driver himself decides when and how to change the pressure in the airbags, and thus raise or lower the car. Depending on the mounted type of suspension, it can be done by simply pressing the switch or by connecting an external compressor (own or e.g. at a petrol station). The variant without a built-in compressor (cheaper), can only work for a vehicle that runs mostly with a constant load.
- In vehicles that frequently change their load and weight, I recommend installing systems with a compressor. It should be remembered that the easiest method of damaging the cushions is to use them without the minimum pressure, which protects against crushing - emphasizes Michał Gąsior.
The big advantage of this type of suspension is its favorable price / quality ratio. Support suspensions can be purchased and installed for the amount of PLN 1,500-3,000 (depending on the base vehicle and the brand of the suspension itself).
Full air suspension
Full pneumatics usually include electronic control based on height sensors and a central control unit. It is also very important that these suspensions take 100% of the weight of the vehicle , as they completely replace the mechanical suspension (original springs or springs are removed).
Full suspensions, in addition to a significant improvement in driving comfort and safety, also offer additional functions, such as the possibility of leveling the vehicle at a standstill, tilting it to the appropriate side (e.g. for loading or emptying water tanks), or raising the rear of the vehicle to safely overcome a transverse obstacle (useful especially on vehicles with long overhangs behind the rear axle).
- In this type of suspensions, the electronics alone decide whether and how to change the pressure in the cushions to maintain a safe height - says the representative of Elcamp. - However, this does not mean that the user is completely out of control. Usually, it has a panel or a remote control that allows the driver to change the height of the suspension or use additional functions - he adds.
Unfortunately, full pneumatics costs at least PLN 15,000 (the upper limit exceeds PLN 30,000). And the price is the main reason why such suspensions remain niche products on the Polish market, while the supporting suspensions are sold in thousands of units per year.
Elcamp air suspensions
Currently, Elcamp offers three brands of air suspensions.
VB-Airsuspension is a Dutch brand specializing in full pneumatic systems, but also having very professional support suspension systems. Goldschmitt - German brand, especially appreciated among motorhome users (it has just grown out of camping vehicles). The third brand is the Irish company Drive-Rite , belonging to the Firestone group. It specializes mainly in supporting suspensions, but it also has a small group of full suspensions.
- At the moment, the most popular solutions for motorhomes we sell are VB-Airsuspension suspensions. This product, in addition to high quality, provides a large service network throughout Europe, and the installation of this brand's products in Fiat or Mercedes chassis does not void the warranty on the base vehicle - informs Michał Gąsior.