Even the powerful work vehicles can have difficulties towing if their suspension is not set up for the task.
Building, electrical and plumbing tradesmen, in particular, can have major problems with their utes, vans and 4wd when standard suspensions try to cope with uneven loads and major differences in ride between empty and full.
The problems are accentuated when towing. Quite apart from scraping the rear end when the vehicle is heavily weighed down or bouncing around when it is empty, there is a big safety problem involved when loads distort handling, braking and headlight direction.
According to Doorcraft, one has to keep the tail up and maintain the right ride height and ground clearance.
Doorcraft specialist’s BA XR8 Ford Falcon ranges extensively from its base on the NSW Central Coast travelling from Sydney to Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, carrying and towing loads up to 1500kg over surfaces that range from highway to building site.
The power of the vehicle is great but its lowered suspension meant that Doorcraft could easily scrape the exhaust and do damage, especially when towing the trailer they use a lot.
The air suspension kits Pedders recommend range from the simple but rugged Firestone Ride-Rite air helper kits for hard-working leaf sprung vehicles, to sophisticated full air conversions (which also using Firestone air springs from All Air Suspensions , which distributes Ride-Rite technology throughout NSW in conjunction with the national Airbag Man organisation).
Pedders recommended Ride-Rite air helper suspension for the rear of Doorcraft specialist’s XR8, with the inflatable springs fitting between the existing leaf springs and the underside of the vehicles.
The springs, inflated as simply as tyres, 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.
According to Pedders, Ride-Rite kits have benefits when the vehicle is loaded or empty, because the air pressure takes the strain off existing metal springs, preventing sagging and helping them to last longer.
Not only do the Ride-Rite and full air suspensions give better ride and handling, but also their air springs can be inflated to different pressures to cope with uneven loads, trailers and varying weight distribution.
Many tradesmen will have huge toolboxes, generators, batteries or stocks of materials permanently located on one side or corner or the end of the vehicle.
Using a simple tyre pump or compressor-driven control kits in the cab air can be added to the Ride-Rite springs to overcome the inherent imbalance.
Vehicle loading heights can also be adjusted, with the suspensions being raised or lowered to match loading dock heights or site conditions, for example.
The loading height adjustment can also be used to enable a vehicle to slip out from under special trays it carries for particular jobs but which it does not need to carry around all the time and waste fuel.
This inflation pressure flexibility can also be an asset when dealing with different ride surfaces, ranging from roadway to soft, muddy and sandy.
It is invaluable when towing, which is an additional stress to which many work vehicles are subjected (including when their owners are on holiday, towing a boat or camping gear).
According to Doorcraft specialist, the Ride-Rite kit provided the flexibility and safety his business needed, Doorcraft had tried inserting extra leaves into the suspension, but it was not working for them. One cannot adjust the height. Doorcraft was scraping the exhaust and it was tough on rough sites.
With the Ride-Rite, one can add air or take it out and get the vehicle handling like it should under all conditions.
The user can get the vehicles power down nicely and it corners flat and secure, even with a load or towing.
According to Doorcraft specialist, it is self-levelling, so there is extra safety and convenience, who has also converted his families’ Ford territory to Firestone’s Ride-Rite helper suspension.
The air springs used in Ride-Rite kits and in Pedders’ full air conversions are identical in construction to the airbags used under massive semi-trailers.
Ride-Rite springs can handle 0-7 bar (0-100 psi) and will support loadings of up to 1100kg each (subject to chassis gross vehicle weight limits). They are simple to install.
Ride-Rite kits from All Air Suspensions are available for a wide range of popular work vehicles including: Toyota (Hilux, Troop Carrier, Prado and Landcruiser) ; Holden (Rodeo, Jackaroo and Commodore ute); Nissan (Patrol and Navara); Mazda (Tribute and Bravo); Mitsubishi (Triton and Pajero); and Ford (Courier, Maverick, Transit, Falcon ute and F Series), plus many others.