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Author Topic: Airbags vs. air shocks on TV  (Read 1011 times)

scottydl

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Airbags vs. air shocks on TV
« on: January 09, 2017, 02:21:32 PM »
My '95 Suburban 2500 (tow vehicle for my 32' TT) has an aftermarket airbag system installed by the previous owner, but it has a leak somewhere and doesn't hold air.  The one mechanic (so far) that gave the airbags a once-over could not find the leak, and he suggested replacing the that system with rear air shocks.  The Suburban tows fine & level without adding air, but the rear shocks are pushed to their limit and I wouldn't mind adding a little cushion.

Anyone here used airbags and air shocks at different times on tow vehicles, that can comment on the performance differences (if any)?  It seems like the shocks would be cheaper than replacing airbags (if the actual bags are even the leak source), but I'm not really sure if it matters which system I have.  It would be great if the air leak was just a cheap air line/hose somewhere, but I haven't had the chance yet to get that looked at any more.  Any comments appreciated!
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

grashley

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Re: Airbags vs. air shocks on TV
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2017, 05:24:50 PM »
Can you get under the 'Burb with air being pumped and a bottle of soapy water to try to find the leak?  Maybe you get lucky with a leaky fitting or tubing.

We had factory air bags on our covered wagon back in '59, and the bags were the weak point of that system.
Preacher Gordon
09 Grand Junction 35 TMS - not yet received
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It's not a dumb question if you do not know the answer.

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Airbags vs. air shocks on TV
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2017, 05:45:30 PM »
I think I smell a misconception here. The original rear shocks can't be "pushed to their limit" because they do nothing to support the weight to begin with. They are there to dampen suspension rebound, not provide lift.  Your springs provide lift, and your add-on air bags assist the spring. Of course, Changing the shocks to a combination shock & spring converts the shock to a dual role as shock absorber and suspension assist.

Is there is a chance that the mechanic simply doesn't want to be bothered diagnosing something he hasn't worked on before? Air bag suspensions are hardly rocket science and it should not be all that hard to isolate the problem.  Of course, if one of the major components has failed, it is legitimate to consider the cost of replacement parts vs an alternate system.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

scottydl

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Re: Airbags vs. air shocks on TV
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2017, 08:26:51 PM »
The misconception is probably on my part... suspension is an automotive system that is not an area of expertise for me.  And I'll clarify, when I asked the mechanic to check the airbag system that was among a list of many other things the Suburban was having done.  It was probably last on the list and I didn't pay for the inspection or anything.  The soapy water spray is a good idea, but it's been around 10 degrees here lately... so there's not a whole lot I can do until Spring.

So would airbags and air shocks NOT provide the same type of support, i.e. one does not replace the other?
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

kdbgoat

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Re: Airbags vs. air shocks on TV
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2017, 06:15:21 AM »
Back in the day when we used to run air shocks to lift up the back of our cars to get those "big" N 50's under them, it was apparent there wasn't a lot of work going on with the rear suspension. Those things rode like a buckboard. I would stick with the air bags if it were me. As said before, pressurize them to the max pressure and start putting soapy water on the system to find the leak. Bummer you have to wait until spring.
I know you believe you understand what you think I said,
But I am not sure you realize what you heard is not what I meant


2016 Leprechaun 319DS

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Airbags vs. air shocks on TV
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2017, 08:49:00 AM »
Within some limits, air springs and air shocks do provide the same function. The air shock is a combo shock and air lift, but the amount of lift is limited by the design and the placement of the shock. The shock mounts are not designed for load carrying because the shock is supposed to move with the suspension, not override it. Furthermore, stiffening the shock to provide lift defeats its true purpose (the anti-spring-bounce).

If you need very much extra lift, the air bags (air spring) is the proper way to do it, but if you only want a few hundred lbs extra, the shock-spring combo may be sufficient. Doesn't have to be air either, unless you plan to adjust it from time to time. They make shocks with coil springs around them as well, so nothing to leak in the future. An example is the Gabriel Load Leveler shock, which adds about 500 b of lift capacity.
http://www.autoanything.com/suspension-systems/gabriel-load-carrier-shocks

This simple and illustrated article explains how shocks and springs work together to form the vehicle suspension.
http://www.kyb-europe.com/suspension.html
« Last Edit: January 10, 2017, 08:51:56 AM by Gary [ RVer Emeritus] »
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

robertusa123

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Re: Airbags vs. air shocks on TV
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2017, 11:24:21 AM »
I put air shook on a g20   van... Didn't help much.  I recommend. Helper springs
1996  26ft. 3 kids 2 dog and the wife too

GA_Boy

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Re: Airbags vs. air shocks on TV
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2017, 08:20:20 PM »
X2---------------I've had bad luck with any type AIR Shocks/Helpers.
Add helper springs and forget it as the air stuff needs constant attention IMO.
Marvin

RedandSilver

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Re: Airbags vs. air shocks on TV
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2017, 09:34:36 PM »
I installed air bags on my SUV to help keep the rear end from being pushed down when hooking up my trailer.
I couldn't add a weight distributing hitch to my trailer so the air bags did make it so that the rear end didn't compress as much.
Before the air bags were installed - when I towed the trailer anywhere near the max weight it could carry the front of the SUV
would be raised up enough that when driving at night the cars going in the opposite direction would flash there lights thinking
I had my bright lights on when I did not.  The air bags solved that problem.
The airbags I got I believe were about $100 for the pair and that included the hoses and fittings.

I never did find a set of air shocks for my SUV - didn't seem like any were made (at that time anyways) for my vehicle.
The air bags were not to bad to installed and were fairly cheap.
2002 Rexhall Rose Air  Cummins 8.3  350hp

 

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