Understanding Air Suspension: A Glossary of Essential Terms

Understanding Air Suspension: A Glossary of Essential Terms

Air suspension systems offer a smoother ride, adjustable ride height, and improved handling for various types of vehicles. However, the terminology associated with air suspension can be confusing for newcomers.

To help you navigate this specialized field, we’ve compiled a comprehensive glossary of essential air suspension terms. Understanding these terms will empower you to make informed decisions when maintaining or upgrading your air suspension system.

Air Suspension Glossary

Air Bag / Air Spring

Definition: Air bags, also known as air springs, are flexible rubber and fabric containers that hold compressed air. They replace traditional coil springs in an air suspension system.

Function: They support the vehicle's weight and provide a smooth ride by adjusting the air pressure to absorb road shocks.


Definition: A compressor is a mechanical device that increases the pressure of air by reducing its volume.

Function: In an air suspension system, the compressor pumps air into the air bags to adjust the vehicle's ride height and firmness.

Air Tank

Definition: An air tank is a storage container that holds compressed air supplied by the compressor.

Function: It provides a readily available supply of air to the air bags, ensuring quick adjustments to the suspension system.

Also see: Air Suspension Tanks: Revolutionizing Vehicle Customization

Control Module / ECU (Electronic Control Unit)

Definition: The control module, or ECU, is an electronic device that manages the air suspension system.

Function: It monitors sensor inputs and adjusts the air pressure in the air bags to maintain the desired ride height and comfort level.

Ride Height Sensors

Definition: Ride height sensors are devices that measure the distance between the vehicle’s body and the ground.

Function: They provide data to the control module, which adjusts the air pressure in the air bags to maintain a consistent ride height.

Solenoid Valve

Definition: A solenoid valve is an electromechanically operated valve that controls the flow of air in the suspension system.

Function: It regulates the air entering and exiting the air bags, allowing for precise adjustments to the suspension.

Air suspension kits

Ride Height Adjustment

Definition: Ride height adjustment refers to the ability to change the vehicle’s height above the ground using the air suspension system.

Function: This feature allows drivers to lower the vehicle for improved handling and aerodynamics or raise it for better ground clearance and off-road capability.

Air Line

Definition: Air lines are flexible tubes that transport compressed air from the compressor and air tank to the air bags.

Function: They ensure the efficient and leak-free delivery of air throughout the suspension system.


Definition: A manifold in an air suspension system is a component that distributes air from the compressor and air tank to the air bags.

Function: It houses the solenoid valves and connects the air lines, managing the flow of air to each air bag.

Dump Valve

Definition: A dump valve is a component that allows air to be released quickly from the air bags.

Function: It lowers the vehicle’s ride height by reducing the air pressure in the air bags.

Air Struts

Definition: Air struts are a combination of air bags and shock absorbers, integrated into a single unit.

Function: They provide both suspension support and damping, offering a smooth and controlled ride.

Bump Stops

Definition: Bump stops are rubber or foam components that limit the travel of the suspension.

Function: They prevent the suspension from bottoming out and damaging the vehicle’s chassis or suspension components.

Shock Absorbers

Definition: Shock absorbers, or dampers, are hydraulic devices that control the movement of the suspension.

Function: They dampen the oscillations of the air bags, providing a smooth and stable ride.

Compressor Duty Cycle

Definition: The duty cycle of a compressor refers to the percentage of time it can run without needing to cool down.

Function: A higher duty cycle indicates a more robust compressor that can handle frequent adjustments without overheating.

PSI (Pounds per Square Inch)

Definition: PSI is a unit of pressure measurement.

Function: It indicates the amount of air pressure within the air bags, which affects the vehicle’s ride height and firmness.

Load Leveling

Definition: Load leveling is a feature of air suspension systems that automatically adjusts the ride height based on the vehicle's load.

Function: It ensures the vehicle remains level regardless of the weight distribution, improving stability and handling.

Air Suspension Kit

Definition: An air suspension kit includes all the components needed to install an air suspension system on a vehicle.

Function: Kits typically contain air bags, a compressor, air lines, a control module, and other necessary hardware.

Air Ride Management System

Definition: An air ride management system is an integrated system that controls all aspects of an air suspension setup.

Function: It includes the control module, solenoid valves, air lines, and sensors, providing a comprehensive solution for managing ride height and comfort.

Conclusion: Mastering Air Suspension Terminology

Understanding the terminology associated with air suspension systems is essential for making informed decisions about maintenance, upgrades, and repairs. By familiarizing yourself with these key terms, you can better communicate with professionals, choose the right components for your vehicle, and ensure your air suspension system performs at its best.

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