Performance Shocks & Struts
Air shocks are what allow your vehicle’s leveling system to do its job. Using pressurized air, they provide resistance against changes in the road surface, supporting your vehicle and cushioning the ride. The right air shocks for your vehicle can offer a perfect balance of responsive handling, ample support, and a smooth ride.
Types of Air Shocks
When it comes to air shocks, you’ll find a wide range of designs and functions. Different vehicles naturally require different shocks. However, the majority of air shocks tend to fall into two categories.
Air-assisted shocks are a kind of passive shock that uses compressed air to support the vehicle. They can be adjusted by hand to provide the optimal resistance for a vehicle’s weight, normal range of wheel travel, and driver preference.
Electronic Air Shocks
Electronically-controlled air shocks, on the other hand, are part of an active suspension system. This system instantly inflates or deflates these shocks to respond to changes in the road surface. As a result, drivers can feel as if they are gliding over even relatively rough terrain.
When to Replace Air Shocks
Air shocks should provide you with an incredibly smooth ride without sacrificing handling. If you notice either of those starting to go away, it might be time to replace your air shocks. If issues with your air shocks become severe, you’ll likely see the suspension warning light come on around your dash panel.
Early Warning Signs of Bad Air Shocks
Once the suspension warning light comes on, the issues with your air suspension have already become acute. At that point, your faulty air shocks have likely caused additional wear and tear on other parts of your vehicle.
Detecting these problems early can help you avoid damage to your vehicle caused by driving on bad shocks. Here are a few early warning signs to look for:
- Nose diving: When your front air shocks break down, your car may start to dip down in front when coming to a stop while the rear lifts up. This is a potentially dangerous situation as it greatly increases your stopping distance and chance of a collision.
- Bouncing ride: If your vehicle bounces as it goes over bumps or dips in the road, the suspension is probably starting to fail.
- Noisy compressor: If your air compressor is running very loudly, it means it’s overworking. A leaky air shock is one of the most likely reasons this happens.
Common Air Shock Problems
Air shocks are one of the more common sites of air suspension problems. There are a few issues that consistently pop up:
- Leaky seals: After lots of miles, the seals around your air shocks can start to wear out. This can lead to small leaks that eventually get bigger if left untreated.
- Cracks: Whether due to dry rot or extreme cold, air springs are susceptible to the rubber cylinders cracking, especially as they age.
- Punctures: Road debris such as rocks or even nails and screws can puncture or tear the rubber portion of an air shock.
- Wear and tear: Your vehicle asks a lot of your air shocks. The flexible materials, seals, and even the metal hardware around will simply degrade over time. When it does, you’ll start to notice problems.
How to Find the Best Air Shock Replacements
High-quality air shocks provide drivers with an unbeatable ride. But not all aftermarket air shock manufacturers make their suspension replacement components to the same standards. There are a few things to look for in an air shock manufacturer:
- Quality materials: A manufacturer that lists the types of metals and rubber they use in their air shocks is confident that they are the right ones. Those that don’t list them may have something to hide.
- Precision engineering: More than a few air shock dealers try to pass off parts meant for other vehicles with a “good enough” fit. This can lead to problems and even dangerous situations down the road. A good manufacturer will take the time and spend the money to develop a product that’s perfect for your vehicle.
- Reliable manufacturing: Auto parts producers that make their products in the USA have greater oversight over the manufacturing. This allows them to maintain strict quality standards that may be hard to enforce when outsourced overseas.
- All parts included: You’ll also need hardware to attach your new air struts to your vehicle. Some manufacturers look to cut costs by skimping on the hardware, allowing them to sell for just a little less, leaving you to run to the hardware store. A good company will always include all the hardware and instructions you need to complete your installation.