Modern tractor-trailer suspension systems are most commonly airbag suspension systems, not leaf springs anymore. The airbag systems are incredibly durable, and with proper maintenance to the system, it will last as long as older leaf spring systems did. Proper maintenance and regular inspection of the system is the best way to stay ahead of any problems that may arise with use.
Watch for Signs of System Problems
The suspension system on your truck has several jobs. The first is to cushion the ride for the driver, and the second is to cushion the ride for the cargo in the trailer. The airbags also play a role in eliminating stress on the truck and trailer from bumps in the road.
A severe jolt from a pothole or crack in the road can damage other components in the suspension system is the airbags are not working correctly. A visual inspection of the suspension system should be done regularly by the driver, especially if the driver feels a change in the handling of the truck or the suspension ride quality.
The airbags are easily accessible when a trailer is no attached to the truck, so taking a second to look at them and check for damage or cracks can be the best way to catch a failing airbag before it fails completely.
Check for Leaks in the Air Bags
One of the most common failures seen in airbag suspension systems are cracks, tears, or pinholes in the rubber bag. Often the damage occurs from age, not from road debris and often, the driver will start to notice the suspension sagging to one side. If the airbag is leaking, the compressor on the truck may be running constantly to try and keep the bag inflated as well.
Because the airbags are made from rubber, inflating and deflating the bags can cause wear in the folds of the rubber, On trucks that operate in hotter areas, the issue is sometimes magnified and the bags may need replacing sooner.
If you have an airbag on your truck that is leaking, changing it as soon as you can it the best way to keep the system working properly.
Check the Air Bag Mounts
Along with the rubber airbag, it is important to check the condition of the brackets or mounts that hold the bag in place. A bracket bolt or mount can allow the airbag to shift on the frame and cause the truck to handle poorly. Check the upper mount and the lower mount on each airbag, tightening any loose hardware you spot.
If the mount is broken, you will need to replace the entire airbag in most cases. If you are not sure how the mounts for the airbags on your truck work, check with a service center or the dealer for details.
Check the Air Lines
While you are inspecting the airbags, it is important to take a look at the air lines that supply air to the bags. Look for spots with wear or damage and check the fittings on both ends for leaks. If the fittings are leaking, tighten them with a wrench but de careful not to overtighten then or you could snap the fitting off.
The lines typically run along the frame to the compressor and over time, the vibrations and movement of the truck can wear a hole in a line. You may need to clean the lines with soap and water to remove dirt and expose a problem if the truck is in need of a wash.
Godfrey Brake Service can help with all your tractor-trailer service needs. If you have a problem with the air suspension on your truck, bring it by and one of our experienced technicians will inspect the system for you. From one airbag to an entire suspension overhaul, we can help get your truck back on the road.