Air Spring (Airbag) Replacement Service and Repair Copy

Audi with air ride and aftermarket air springs and air suspension system

Air Spring (Airbag) Replacement Service and Repair Copy

Air Spring (Airbag) Replacement Service & Repair

What is an Air Spring?


Many cars and trucks use coil springs, leaf spring, or sometimes torsion bars (tension springs) to support the load of the vehicle while absorbing the up-and-down motion of the vehicle’s wheels and suspension components.  An air spring does the same thing. However, instead of being made of spring steel, air springs are made of rubber bladders that hold pressurized air and act as a spring. The rubber air bladders are commonly called airbags (air bags) or air bellows.


Air Springs have been popular in the heavy trucking industry for many years as a load cushioning component that has been used in tandem with leaf spring or used in place of them. In recent years, air springs have been commonly used by automobile manufacturers in their luxury cars. More recently, air springs have become very popular in the aftermarket suspension and custom car world, such as those offered by Accuair and Airlift.  Air spring suspension systems need computerized control for optimal performance and handling. As computer control technology has improved in cars, so too has the popularity of air spring suspension systems among engineers, car manufacturers, and aftermarket companies.


Air Springs vs. Coil Springs

Top- Air Spring Suspension System. Bottom- Typical Coil spring or Coilover suspension system


There are several advantages to using air springs. They offer less unsprung suspension weight when compared to their steel spring counterparts. Less unsprung weight makes for smoother and more responsive suspension movement. Air springs allow the car to raise or lower as desired to transverse different terrain or for easier loading of the vehicle. Air springs offer a softer ride with the same handling as a steel coil spring.


What are Common Symptoms Indicate that you may need to replace the Air Spring?


The rubber bellows of air springs will naturally degrade over time with normal wear and tear. It is not uncommon for them to get a pin hole sized air leak or tear (rupture) with age and use. When the air bags leak, the suspension will sag at the affected corner/s.


Air suspension systems require plumbing that includes an air pump, air tubing, air tank, valve assemblies, pressure sensors, ride height sensors, and a control unit. Most manufacturers design safety controls into their systems that will shut down the entire air suspension system when it detects and air leak. This helps prevent overheating of the air pump and damage to other components. A warning message or light will also be triggered in the dash. If there is an air leak in the system, you may have also noticed that the air pump seems to be running longer than normal.


How Important is the Air Spring Replacement and Repair?


In the event of an air spring failure, you will quickly notice that your car is difficult to drive or may not want to drive at all. The affected corner may exhibit rubbing noises and jarring sensations from the suspension being bottomed out and allowing the tire to rub against the inner fender. Also, the car will look hideous and be embarrassing to drive with one collapsed corner. If the entire suspension is “aired out” (collapsed), you could play it off as being part of the Stance car scene, but it will be horrible to drive.


General Repair or Service Procedure:


A diagnosis must be done to ascertain the problem and find the leak. While it is common for an air spring to fail, it not uncommon for air pumps, air lines, air valve assemblies, and control units to fail. Cars such as Mercedes or Land Rover often have the air valve and control assemblies placed behind the front bumper. If the technician determines the problem is one of those components, you can expect to pay for additional labor to remove the bumper to expose the units for further testing. Sometimes, the air leak will be in an obscure and hard to find spot that will require extra time to diagnose.


As for the air spring itself, replacement is much different from a regular coil spring. We recommend taking your car to a specialty shop, such as Sprint Motorsports. Many manufacturers, such as Mercedes-Benz require special tools for removal of the air spring. Special procedures using factory level or dealer level equipment for calibration and setup are required after air spring installation. The technician should always perform final testing and confirm that the air suspension system is functioning properly after repairs.


Additional parts and labor that may be needed:


  • Extra time for hunting down air leaks.
  • Extra time may be needed for exposing and testing pumps, control units, and air valve body.
  • Separate charges for final testing and system calibration and adjustment may be required.
  • A 4 wheel Alignment should be performed with a state-of-the -art Hunter Hawk Eye Wheel Alignment System following suspension repairs.


Preventative Maintenance Recommendations:


Not much can be done for preventative maintenance of air springs and air suspension systems. A qualified shop should give the system a good visual inspection during a major service and check the computer system for relevant codes. Fatigue and deterioration of the rubber air bags will be less if the vehicle is not permitted to be parked for long periods of time. Rubber like to dry out and hardened when not used. Drive your car and exercise its air springs.


Sprint Motorsports takes pride in caring for our customers, and are invigorated by the opportunity to provide competent and comprehensive automotive repair services. Whether you need general maintenance and repair or you desire custom and performance work,  we strive to be the leading repair, tuning, and race facility in the San Jose Area and Campbell, Los Gatos, Saratoga, & Cupertino. We are committed to providing you personalized, detailed, and friendly service. Our relationships are built on trust, communication, integrity, and commitment to our purpose; to be the best repair and performance shop we can be for you.

To schedule an appointment to service and repair your Air Springs ( Air bags) and air suspension system, whether OEM or custom, such as Accuair and Airlift, contact service@sprint-motorsports.com or 408-831-3730. We welcome you to stop by our shop at 2099 S 10th St Unit 40, San Jose, CA 95112. If you have any questions about your car’s performance or maintenance, don’t be shy and asking our friendly staff for assistance.