When it comes to owning and operating a trailer, choosing the right suspension system can make all the difference in the world. Not only does the right suspension improve comfort and stability while on the road, but it can also have a big impact on the overall performance and longevity of your trailer. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the four main types of trailer suspensions available on the market today. Understanding the features and benefits of each type of suspension will help you make an informed decision when it comes to choosing the right suspension for your trailer.
The Importance of Suspension in Trailers
Before we dive into the various types of trailer suspensions, it’s important to understand why the suspension is so important in trailers.
Essentially, the suspension system in your trailer is a combination of tires, linkages, springs, and shock absorbers.
It performs three key functions:
- Maximizing friction between the tires and road surface.
- Providing trailer stability.
- Ensuring a balanced and smooth ride.
The most critical component of a suspension system is the spring, and over time it has evolved into various forms of suspension systems.
The Four Main Types of Trailer Suspensions
- Leaf Spring Suspension
Leaf spring suspensions are one of the oldest forms of suspension systems and are still being produced today. They are best suited for light trailers and are excellent at absorbing shocks, but they are not recommended for heavy-duty use.
- Trailing-Arm Suspension
Trailing-arm suspensions were originally seen in the landing gears of aircraft but have since become a popular choice for ground vehicles, including Off Road Trailers. This type of suspension features a link or arm that is connected between the axle of the trailer and a pivot point on the chassis. The arm is located at the front of the trailer stub axle and bearings. The use of independent trailing-arm suspensions on the trailer allows each wheel to move vertically independently, resulting in a more comfortable ride.
- Air Suspension
Air suspensions have been used in ground vehicles since the 1980s and are essentially a modification of the trailing-arm suspension. The steel springs in a trailing-arm suspension are replaced with textile-reinforced rubber bellows, also known as airbags or air springs. The load of the trailer is borne by these air springs rather than the steel springs in a trailing-arm suspension. Air suspensions are a great choice as they are suitable for all types of terrain, although you will need an air compressor or air cylinder to adjust the pressure according to the terrain.
- Rubber Suspension
A rubber suspension is a lightweight and relatively simple form of suspension. It is a torsion arm suspension and features a torsion arm attached to the trailer frame. Inside the torsion arm is a heat-treated inner bar surrounded by three or four rubber cords. When the load is applied, the inner bar rotates, causing a rolling compressive resistance in the rubber cords. The rubber suspension provides the same functions as a conventional sprung axle, and the rubber cushioning eliminates metal-to-metal contact.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Trailer Suspension
When choosing a trailer suspension, there are several key factors to consider, including load capacity, ride quality, adjustability, and cost.
The load capacity of a trailer suspension is one of the most important factors to consider. You need to choose a suspension that can handle the weight of your load, as well as any additional weight you may add in the future. Make sure to choose a suspension with a load capacity that exceeds your needs, to ensure a safe and stable ride.
The ride quality of a trailer suspension is another important factor to consider. You want to choose a suspension that provides a smooth and comfortable ride, even on rough roads. Consider the type of roads you will be driving on and choose a suspension that is well-suited to those conditions.
The adjustability of a trailer suspension is also important. You may want to adjust the suspension to suit different loads or road conditions. Some suspensions are more adjustable than others. Many coil spring systems come with toe and camber adjustments for better tracking and tyre wear. Along with the option to easily swap out coils for different weight ratings. So choose a suspension that offers the level of adjustability you need.
Finally, cost is an important factor to consider when choosing a trailer suspension. You want to choose a suspension that is within your budget, but also provides the features and performance you need. Make sure to consider the upfront cost, as well as any potential maintenance costs that may arise in the future. Keep in mind that a more expensive suspension may have a higher initial cost, but can save you money in the long run by providing better performance and durability.
On the other hand, cheaper suspension options may have a lower upfront cost, but may not have the same level of performance and may need to be replaced or repaired more often. It’s important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each option and make an informed decision based on your specific needs and budget.
Choosing the Right Trailer Suspension Based on Your Needs
When it comes down to it, choosing the right trailer suspension ultimately depends on your specific needs and budget. If you’re looking for a suspension that can handle heavy loads and rough terrain, independent coil spring suspension may be the best option for you.
However, if you’re looking for a cost-effective solution for lighter loads, a leaf spring suspension may be a better choice.
In conclusion, it’s important to consider the weight capacity, level of comfort, and overall durability of a trailer suspension before making a decision.
By taking the time to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each option, you can ensure that you choose the right trailer suspension for your specific needs.
- What is the difference between a leaf spring and air suspension? A leaf spring suspension uses flat metal springs to support the weight of the trailer, while acoil spring suspension uses coils to provide support.
- What is the most durable type of trailer suspension? It’s difficult to say which type of trailer suspension is the most durable as it can vary based on the specific brand and model. However, coil spring suspensions are often known for their durability and longevity.
- Is air suspension more expensive than coil spring suspension? Yes, air suspensions generally have a higher upfront cost compared to leaf or coil spring suspensions. However, they may provide better performance and last longer, potentially saving you money in the long run.
- Which type of suspension is best for rough terrain? Coil Spring suspensions are generally better suited for rough terrain as they provide a more comfortable ride and can handle heavy loads. Without the extra parts and components associated with air suspension. Like compressors, air lines, leveling switches and control panels.
- What should I consider when choosing a trailer suspension? When choosing a trailer suspension, it’s important to consider the weight capacity, level of comfort, durability, and cost. Make sure to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each option to determine the best fit for your specific needs.