In a sea of air-inflatable, over sized bump-stop load support methods to offset seasonal front ride height woes (adding a snow plow to the front end comes to mind…), patented mechanically-adjustable products have now entered the market and made their presence known. While there are definitely merits to the advent of such inflatable, and/or bump-stop-type products…these “bellows-type-products” may also come with some disadvantageous characteristics as a result of their designs.
Allow us to consider the following advantages & disadvantages of each product type;
Air-Inflatable Load Support Products:
Puncture Resistant? No comment.
Correct for Headlight Aim? Yes, if inflated properly. An automatic on-board air compressor can be added to the ensemble, to maintain a consistent specified P.S.I. Oh, and don’t forget your checkbook if you choose this upgrade, it’s not typically included with your air bag purchase.
Help Maintain Suspension Geometry & Wheel Alignment? Theoretically, yes, but only if inflated to the proper OEM ride height specification. Again, the additional on-board air compressor will be required to assure consistent ride height support.
Allow added Plow Clearance? See above.
Seasonally Adjustable? Yes.
Do the components degrade over time? Well, let’s just say that these materials are not impervious to time, or wear-and-tear.
Price Point? $$$ if you choose to add the on-board compressor. $$ if not.
Oversized Bump Stop Load Support Products:
Puncture Resistant? Largely, yes. However, the trapped air cylinder within the bump stop could, theoretically, sustain a puncture in a severe situation.
Correct for Headlight Aim Issues? For the most part, yes.
Help Maintain Suspension Geometry & Wheel Alignment? Hmmmm, this will depend on how much contact has been introduced to support the added weight. It may be a delicate balance.
Allow added Plow Clearance? These products will help support the weight of the plow, and pretty effectively I must say. The jury is out, however, on how the vehicle will ride with no additional weight, if the bump stops are still in contact with the chassis.
Seasonally Adjustable? No.
Do the components degrade over time? These are pretty durable little products, and we have not seen many returns due to wear-and-tear.
Price Point? $$
Mechanical Ride Height Adjustment Products:
Puncture Resistant? Absolutely. That is, unless you have a diamond-tip drill bit, and some extra time on your hands.
Correct for Headlight Aim Issues? Absolutely. Once additional weight has been introduced to the front end, the mechanical adjustment is used to “tune” proper ride height.
Help Maintain Suspension Geometry & Wheel Alignment? Again, yes. The addition of mechanical ride height adjustment to counter the added weight, encourages suspension geometry angles to proper positioning.
Allow added Plow Clearance? Yes. The nature of mechanical products is “set it and forget it”. That is, until you remove your snow plow in the spring, and reset your ride height for the warmer season.
Seasonally Adjustable? Again, yes, absolutely.
Do the components degrade over time? Forged steel and electrostatic coatings, along with marine-grade anti-seize compounds, are meant to stand-up to the test of time…and Ol’ Man Winter.
Price Point? $$
So, this all said, instead of simply supporting the issue with a bellows (a.k.a.; bag), mechanical ride height adjustment products may actually solve the issues associated with front-heavy vehicle applications (did we say, “Snow Plows”?).
Mechanical Front Suspension Ride Height Adjustment…The real deal, indeed.