Motorhomes are a great way to travel. You can roam the countryside with many of the comforts of home. That is unless you have poor suspension. Then it feels like you’re at home during an earthquake. It doesn’t have to be that way.
To maintain a smooth ride, your motorhome needs a good suspension system. There are a few different kinds out there, and there may be ways to enhance or upgrade yours. But first, let’s take a look at what suspension is.
What is Suspension?
Have you ever sat down on a skateboard and rolled down a driveway or street? Even if you haven’t, you can probably imagine how every bump in the road would affect your body. But it’s not just uncomfortable. If a car has no suspension, every part of it is jostled way too hard, and hitting a bump at a moderate speed can do serious damage to it. Screws can come loose. Parts can clang together. Wheels and axles can bend or break. The car can even become airborne and crash back down to the pavement, hard. This is why vehicles have suspension.
Now let’s take a look at the main types of car suspension.
Leaf Spring Suspension
Leaf suspension is the most common form of car suspension and was first used on carriages back in the 1600s. The leaf is a long flat length of steel (or more often a stack of such pieces) that connects to the axle from below and connects at both ends to the chassis above. It’s considered a very stable and reliable design.
Coil Spring Suspension
Coil springs are the next most common of car suspension, yet people seem to be more familiar with them. This may be due to their common use on pickup trucks with high suspension. The coil spring runs from the chassis down to the axle, and there may be one or two per wheel. When a truck bed is loaded down with cargo, the coil springs are compressed and less bouncy, making for a more stable ride. Coil springs are lighter than leaf springs and cheaper to make, but both technologies have their place. Leaf spring systems are less expensive to install.
Air Suspension Systems
Air suspension systems are less common than coil and leaf suspension systems because of their more complicated and dynamic design. They’re commonly used on airplanes and trains, especially passenger trains that require extra comfort. They were developed largely in the United States during World War II as light and compact suspension systems for heavy aircraft, though they had previously been used in a few bicycles and motorcycles.
Another main feature of these systems, especially on large trucks, is their self-levelling capability. It consists of flexible bellows, usually made of textile-reinforced rubber, that can be independently inflated or deflated to adjust the vehicle’s height. (These can be called airbags, air bellows or air springs.) These adjustments are made by an air pump or compressor powered by electricity or the vehicle’s engine.
Here are some of the advantages of using an air suspension system:
- Greater driver comfort due to the reduction in noise, harshness, and vibrations on the road that can cause driver fatigue
- Increased stability
- Less wear and tear on the suspension system
- Ability to lower the vehicle to enhance aerodynamics and increase fuel efficiency
- Reduction of the tendency of short wheelbase trucks to bounce on rough surfaces when the vehicle is empty
- Significant improvement of road holding capability
- Maintenance of correct braking pressure
- Reduced tyre wear
- Maintaining optimal vehicle driving height
- Prevents damage on ferries and driveways with sharp inclines
- Ability to level left and right independently
- Increase in payload capacity
- Higher cornering speeds due to air suspension being better suited to the surface of the road
Another special use of air suspension is for stylistic flair. Many lowrider trucks and other distinctive cars are modified so that they can be dramatically raised or lowered. They may ride very close to the ground on smooth roads for stylistic effect and aerodynamics but be raised up to avoid damage on rough roads or on streets with speed bumps. Since some of these vehicles have expensive ground effects, this prevents a lot of scratches and dents.
LNB Air Suspension Systems for Motorhomes
The motorhome air suspension kits available at LNB include an integral air compressor and – where possible – a dashboard-fitted control panel as standard. This gives you full control from the driver’s seat to harden or soften the ride, raise or lower the height, or make small adjustments as needed.
For vans with a leaf spring suspension, we can also offer the basic system consisting of just air bellows and inflation valves.
We stock kits for leaf spring converted van chassis, Alko single axle chassis, Alko tag axle chassis, and motorhomes of all makes. Just contact our team for fully fitted prices.
Standard Leaf Spring Air Suspension Kit with Compressor
For motorhomes on a van chassis with leaf spring suspension, we have our standard kit, tailored exactly to the make and model of your vehicle. It includes two air bellows that sit between the axle and the chassis, at the centre of the leaf spring, and includes hoses, connectors, valves and a compressor mounted in the vehicle to control the level and pressure. There is also a dashboard-mounted control panel with gauges and an inflate/deflate control switch for both sides. This gives you full control from the driver’s seat to adjust for comfort, ride, or raise the rear to clear an obstacle such as a ferry ramp.
ALKO Chassis Air Suspension Kit with Compressor
For motorhomes with an ALKO chassis, the suspension is different. These systems should only be fitted by skilled trained professionals. It works by placing an air bellow between the swinging suspension arm and a bracket strategically mounted to the ALKO chassis. The air in this bellow then controls both the ride height and the amount of travel in the swinging arm. It includes two air bellows that sit between the arm and the chassis, all the professionally designed and TUV approved brackets, hoses, connectors and valves, and a compressor mounted in the vehicle to control the level/pressure. Also, a dash-mounted control panel with gauges and an inflate/deflate control switch for both sides. Giving you full control from the driver’s seat to adjust for comfort, ride, or raise the rear to clear an obstacle such as a ferry ramp.
The Basic Leaf Spring Air Suspension System (No Compressor)
If you have a motorhome based on a van chassis with leaf springs and are on a budget, we can offer a basic air suspension system. This consists of just the bellows and brackets to install between the axle and chassis, hose and fittings, and two Schraeder inflation valves mounted externally. This basic system has no gauges or control from the driver’s position. The bags will need to be inflated by an external pump to the desired pressure and periodically checked just like you would a vehicle tyre.
LNB is a motorhome specialist in Bristol, delivering a wide range of products and accessories – from tow bars to air suspension. We invite you to come and see our state of the art showroom which boasts demonstrations of many of our products, such as automatic self-levelling systems, lithium batteries, small car trailers, satellite TV, solar panels, and parking aids. This enables our customers to get a feel for how they work and how they will look on their motorhomes. Being experts in our field, we are more than happy to provide help and advice on the products and accessories that we sell for motorhomes and cars.
With our years of experience in the motorhome and caravan industry, you can have peace of mind that your vehicle is in safe hands. We are focused on providing high-quality products for motorhomes. Our team will ensure that we provide the best products for your vehicle enabling you to tow your caravan or travel in your motorhome. As motorhome and caravan owners ourselves, we have a great understanding of your needs and the desire for convenience.
We take pride in offering an exceptional service that makes getting your motorhome accessories a hassle-free process. Our towbar experts deliver a professional fitting service that meets the very highest standards, and we’ll even offer you a free courtesy car while your vehicle is with us.