THE SHOP

Performance & Hotrod Business February '14

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optimum performance in driving situations. The system can be adjusted for comfort in highway and normal driving, navigating hills and the like; it can also be readjusted at the course for autocross, offering your customers infinite possibilities. Air Suspension Installation… …and all those scary nightmares I've heard about… It's not nearly as scary as you'd think. Below are some of the most common issues that arise when designing, installing, and using an air suspension. Mismatched Components Improper parts will almost guarantee an undesirable result, regardless of what system we're talking about. Start by contacting knowledgeable air suspension manufacturers. This is what they do all day, and they have far more expertise on the subject than you. It's been said before and is still true: just because you can find a random set of parts that will fit, does not mean they'll work. A good air suspension manufacturer can explain not only which components are appropriate, but also knows why. You may be able to salvage or source a bunch of cheap parts to try and make your own system with less upfront costs than a properly matched set of components. But what you need to look at is the extra money you'll be outlaying on the back end in field engineering and problem solving. The right parts, the first time will save man-hours and cost you less at the end of the job. Incorrect Ride Height No suspension, whether air or traditional, will be able to offer any sort of ride quality or handling without adequate suspension travel. Bret Voelkel of RideTech tells us: "You'll need 2.5- to 3-inches of compression travel (at the wheel) and 1.5- to 2-inches of rebound travel to achieve any sort of civilized ride quality and handling. The other end of this is the hot rodder who is trying to Band-Aid a poor wheel/tire fitment by driving their car at a higher ride height for tire clearance. Suck it up… buy new wheels and tires that fit." Not designing correct suspension travel into the system will always yield problematic results. Poor Ride Quality – aka Cheap Shocks Time was you grabbed the cheapest shock you could find that fit. As with most things, you get what you pay for. The An air suspension system can be adjusted for different driving conditions... Above: Some of RideTech's AirRide components. (Courtesy RideTech) Below: Air suspensions can be adjusted for various driving conditions. (Courtesy RideTech) cheapest shocks will, therefore, give you the cheapest ride quality. Today, modern shock technology offers a nearly infinite variety of shocks to achieve the unique combination of ride quality and handling each individual customer is looking for. Consult with your air suspension manufacturer, and always use high-quality shocks from a reputable manufacturer. Leaks Leaks are the single most common complaint lodged against air systems. And they should be the single least common. You've been working with an air system of sorts for years now, but you never stopped to think about it: Tires. You know all the ins and outs of making a tire hold air; it's much the same for air suspension. Think about it: a tire is essentially a giant tube of compressed air. Air suspension is the same thing, just on a smaller scale. Apply your tire knowledge to air suspension. You know if you have a nick in a wheel, or massive corrosion, or an improper bead, it'll leak. The "Big Bad Leaks" people talk about are simply a case of not applying this February 2014 PHBFEB_52-77.indd 61 n Performance & Hotrod Business n 61 1/7/14 2:21 PM

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