Sparesbox Blog

Coils or Airbags?

By Brad Nash

Wed Jul 22 2015

Suspension can be a tricky thing, and just like with keeping your car stable on the road, finding the perfect balance is key. Suspension systems present a constant trade-off between ride quality, on-road handling and off-road performance, so if you’re looking to upgrade your stock system, finding the perfect suspension for your needs is incredibly vital. Here, we’ll take a look at the difference between heavy-duty coil springs and their airbag counterparts.

 

Airbag Suspension

Airbag Suspension
Image: Airbag Man

 

Pros

Suspension helper airbags, such as those from Airbag Man, are designed to assist the vehicle’s standard suspension setup. As you load your vehicle by adding passengers, accessories, luggage or on the tow bar the suspension sags and is forced to operate outside its optimal range of movement. This adversely affects the geometry, compromising tyre wear and grip. Spring helper airbags are designed to give your suspension additional support by inflating, allowing the suspension to operate as correctly. The advantage of this solution is that you can inflate or deflate the airbags to suits the amount of load you’re carrying. Hauling a bigger load? Simply increase the air pressure.

Their tough construction also offers a good, cheaper alternative for towing and carrying moderate to heavy loads, especially when compared to or combined with a lift kit.

 

Cons

By their nature, Airbags simply can’t carry the full brunt of pressure that load-oriented lift kits can handle. In order to carry heavy loads constantly, they must be paired to assist heavy duty springs, which negates the effect of the increased ride comfort that makes Airbag suspension such a good call. If you’re towing or carrying anything over 500kg on a regular basis, heavy duty springs or a heavy duty lift kit are probably the best places to look.

As they’re generally made of specialised components, if something goes wrong they’re often costly to repair as well, and need to be fixed by either an airbag specialist or an auto-electric technician, rather than a standard mechanic.

  

Heavy-Duty Springs

Coil Suspension
Image: Bilstein

 

Pros

Coil suspension is the standardised suspension on road cars for a good reason. Combining both springs and shock absorbers into a neat package, it’s tough, it’s adaptable, if it’s properly tuned and upgraded to suit your needs it doesn’t need any adjusting and will tackle pretty much any terrain you throw at it. They also come in a very high variety of strengths and stiffnesses, and can be upgraded in a full system or gradually by replacing each individual part. Heavy duty springs provide constant ride height and a rigid platform for your vehicles suspension to operate from. If you carry consistently high loads – this is the upgrade for you.

Due to their firmer, more responsive nature, they generally provide better on-road handling, provided you don’t go for a lift kit. As well as this, heavy duty suspension kits are just about the toughest way of keeping your car raised available, and will be able to handle the heaviest loads and towing requirements for a longer amount of time.

A heavy duty ‘Load’ lift kit comes pairs with all the other components you’ll need to upgrade such as shackles, suspension bushes and U-blots.

 

Cons

Heavy duty springs are designed precisely to increase the suspension’s stiffness– so if your vehicle is unlaiden the ride will be significantly firmer. This may also compromise traction when used off-road as tyre contact is reduced as you bounce over the rough terrain. For lower-load towing and lifting, it may prove more cost effective to opt for a high pressure airbag system as well, as the cost of a performance/enhancement based lift kit often far outweighs the weight capacity you may need your vehicle to meet.

 

Need more info? Check out our articles on why an airbag might be right for you, and what type to choose. Whatever suspension system you settle on, you can maximise your towing capabilities by using a Tow Ballfrom Sparesbox.