A Toyota HiLux that has to cope with the widely varying loads imposed by a 1000 litre water tank has benefited from the fitting of air suspension that allows the vehicle owner to level the vehicle when required to give a safer and more stable ride.
This has positive implications for the road handling, safety and wear on the chassis, suspension and tyres of any light trade vehicle or 4wd that must sometimes carry heavy, uneven or varying loads such as tools, machinery, liquids and building materials during its working day.
Applications include utes, vans, 4wds, light trucks and work vehicles used in industries such as building and construction, electrical contracting, farming and spraying, mining and resources, food growing and manufacturing, primary production, water and waste water.
Ken McDonald uses the double-cab HiLux utility to transport a tonne of water about four times a week to his semi-rural property in Samford near Brisbane.
During the day, the vehicle is driven as a reps car by his business, Trade Builders Group, a successful buying group that helps contractors and sub-contractors to obtain their building materials at the best possible prices.
But the vehicle also doubles as a load carrier to Ken’s hobby farm and residence, which does not have reticulated water.
“When I filled the tank with water, the vehicle didn’t feel at all safe. It was very low at the back and light at the front end. The steering was terrible,” he recalled.
“Even though the Hilux is a one-tonner, this doesn’t mean – like all vehicles - you can carry a load of one ton. Allowance has to be made for a tray body, a full load of petrol, occupants, not to mention your lunch box.”
Ken spoke to Airbag Man about the safety and handling problems and it recommended that he fit a Ride-Rite air-helper suspension kit and Air-Rite air control kit to the Toyota.
Airbag Man is an Australian owned ISO9001 quality assured company specialising in the design and manufacture of air suspension systems. Over 14 years Airbag Man has built up a large range of air suspension products which is distributed through a national network of suspension specialists.
With a heavy duty Firestone Ride-Rite air bag now supporting each of the rear wheels, Ken is able to handle both loaded and un-loaded vehicle conditions with confidence and safety. The Air-Rite air control system allows him to easily adjust the level of the vehicle wherever he is.
“As I fill the tank with water, I pump up the air bags using the on-board compressor that runs off my battery. I just make sure the vehicle is nice and level for the load I am carrying , its easy”
“The loaded Hilux then rides 100 per cent better. It handles and steers as if there’s no load at all. The only way I know the water is there is because I can feel its weight when accelerating or on hills.
“I’m very pleased with the result and would recommend the Ride-Rite suspension kit to others, for safety reasons as much as anything. The loaded vehicle drives under full control.”
Ken has observed other people in his neighbourhood trying to cope with the difficulty of transporting a heavy tank of water from the public standpipe to their homes.
“Some use a truck or tow a trailer, while others just stagger along in an overloaded vehicle.”
As a registered builder, he is also familiar with the problems of carrying loads such as aggregate or bricks to the worksite.
“Builders will often put a heavy load of sand or 500 bricks in their ute. The backside of the vehicle is barely off the ground. By supporting the suspension with air bags, they could inflate the bags when needed and ride in complete safety,” Ken said.
Firestone Ride-Rite kits support the extra load that leaf-sprung light vehicles and trucks are required to carry, ensuring a smooth and even ride with enhanced steering, stability and braking for both individual and fleet customers. The kits are designed and manufactured in Australia and are available for most vehicle makes and models.
Coil-Rite kits are also available for a wide variety of coil-sprung vehicles, as well as On-Air full air conversions for coil sprung vehicles, caravans and trailers.
Ride-Rite and On-Air feature the same type of tough Firestone air springs used underneath semi trailers, the air helper suspension acts to prevent imbalances that result in hazardous driving conditions and wear and tear on the vehicle's tyres, suspension and frame.
Ride-Rite springs work with the existing suspension to re-level loaded vehicles to their ideal configuration, which is with frame and body parallel to the axle, as in an unloaded vehicle. The kits have benefits when the vehicle is loaded or empty, towing or not towing, because the air pressure takes the strain off existing metal springs, preventing sagging and helping them to last longer. Their inflation is fully adjustable, to ensure the correct ride for the load the truck is carrying.
Air suspensions are easily inflated by standard workshop compressors or optional onboard compressor systems. They can handle 0-7 bar (0-100 psi) and up to 1100kg each (subject to chassis gross vehicle weight limits).
Airbag Man suspension products and air control systems include:
- Basic air suspension kits for different types of vehicles, including two air helper springs, air lines with separate tyre-type inflation valves, hardware for proper installation and step-by-step instructions to permit installation using simple hand tools
- Air-Rite Air Compressor Accessory kits which can include 12-volt or 24 volt air compressor, air tank, pressure switch and tubing to inflate not only the air helper springs, but also tyres
Many variations of air control are available and custom systems can be provided in consultation with the Airbag Man technical department.
Airbag Man sales manager, Ben Brown, said one of the big attractions of air suspensions is that it can iron out difficulties presented by unevenly loaded vehicles by putting additional suspension support where it is needed, under toolboxes, drums or heavy materials for construction and maintenance tasks.
“They also help eliminate tail drag when towing and help keep the vehicle level when cornering,” said Ben Brown. “Because Ride-Rite can be tuned to different loads and roads, the system helps stop vehicles bouncing around on rough roads and evens them up so you don’t get erratic braking or your lights shining up into the faces of oncoming traffic at night.”