Air suspension for motorhomes
What are the advantages of having air suspension on a motorhome?
More driving comfort, more safety: there are strong forces at play on the axles of a motorhome, especially the rear axle. Many vehicles have a considerable rear overhang, bikes and e-bikes are transported on a load carrier or the rear garage is packed full with all kinds of accessories. Not only does an additional air spring or full air suspension have a positive effect on how your motorhome drives, but you can also benefit from more comfort and higher levels of safety during your trip.
Air suspension offers numerous advantages for motorhome owners. Some of these include:
- improved comfort: air springs can absorb shocks and vibrations, e.g. on roads with bumps and potholes, better than standard steel springs. This makes your journey more comfortable overall.
- More stable road holding: suspension adapts to the vehicle’s weight when loaded and thus ensures greater safety while driving.
- Increased ground clearance and better slope angle: as soon as a motorhome has been loaded up, the back of the vehicle lowers. This effect is further enhanced by a large rear overhang.
What is air suspension and how does it work?
Steel springs (leaf or torsion springs) are installed on motorhome rear axles as standard.This type of suspension is robust and durable,but comfort is not the top priority here.
In contrast, air suspension can make the ride significantly more comfortable.This involves removing most steel spring components and replacing them with air bellows.You know just how pleasant riding in a vehicle with air suspension can be from coaches, lorries and high-priced cars.
The rigidity of air bellows can be adapted to the vehicle’s load and road surface, as well as in special situations (such as ferry rides, yard entrances and tight curves, etc.).This is either fully automatic or done manually.
Manual air suspension is operated by the driver from their cab.There are three different versions available:
- systems filled with air at petrol stations
- Single-circuit systems with compressor – both air bellows are provided with the same air pressure at the same time
- Two-circuit systems with compressor – the most convenient version. The two air bellows can be controlled and filled with air separately
With fully-automatic types of air suspension, the system automatically fills the air bellows with the right amount of pressure.This is based on sensors and an intelligent control system
and means that the suspension can be adapted to the vehicle’s current load.Even uneven loads in the rear garage can be partially compensated for with this kind of suspension.Adjusting the suspension has a noticeable effect on comfort and also increases stability, especially in the following situations:
- during crosswinds,
- cornering, when trucks or buses are overtaking,
- on bridges and
- when exiting tunnels
What kind of air suspension is available at AL-KO?
AL-KO offers two types of air suspension systems for your motorhome.
- One is additional air suspension: this version is based around an existing steel spring.It is only fitted on the rear axle, as part of the original equipment or retrofitted.The system is controlled manually. Unlike the additional air suspension systems found on the market, part of the steel spring is removed in the AL-KO Air Plus , so that the air spring can exert its effect in the best possible way.
- Full air suspension: this involves air bellows taking over most of the suspension.Full air suspension is installed either just on the rear axle or on both the front and rear axles.The system is regulated fully automatically, but this can also be done manually as a matter of course.This version can be fitted as part of the original equipment or retrofitted.
There are currently no air suspension systems available from AL-KO for vehicles with original chassis from the vehicle manufacturer.
Which vehicle models are suitable for AL-KO air suspension?
AL-KO air suspension systems can be installed on almost any motorhome with a AL-KO chassis.
In principle, the manual additional air suspension system, AL-KO Air Plus, as well as the full air suspension systems AL-KO Air Premium X2 and AL-KO Air Premium X4, are available for all motorhomes with a FIAT/Peugeot/Citroën chassis cab released from 2006 onwards,
- the Fiat Ducato,
- Peugeot Boxer,
- and Citroën Jumper.
The AL-KO Air Premium X2 is also available for Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (VS30) models from 2019 onwards.
The details for the Air Premium X4 need to be clarified for the specific vehicle. We would be happy to help you with any questions you may have regarding payload increase and air suspension.
How much does air suspension on a motorhome cost?
Prices for an air suspension system, including installation/assembly, range from 1,500 to 15,000 Euros.The price range is so wide due to the range of motorhomes available (van to fully-integrated 3-axle motorhome) and the different types of air suspension.As such, it is best to have a personal consultation to find the right air suspension for your vehicle .
The staff at our AL-KO customer centres are happy to provide their expertise to help you with this.
How long are the current delivery times?
Air suspension systems are usually available from AL-KO at short notice.However, as the recent past has shown, situations can repeatedly arise on the procurement market, resulting in a negative impact on delivery times.
How long does installation take?
The time needed for installation depends very much on the product selected and the vehicle you have.For example, while an Air Plus additional air suspension system can be installed within a day, it can sometimes take two working days for an Air Premium X4 full air suspension system to be installed on a three-axle vehicle.
In principle, full air suspension and additional air suspension are based on the same change to the body of the vehicle, but differ in terms of levels of comfort when driving:
Additional air suspension: this is a supplementary system which is added to an existing suspension system on the rear axle.Additional air suspension supports a vehicle’s conventional suspension, improves comfort and ensures more stable road holding.
Full air suspension: this system primarily works with air bellows and reduces the number of steel springs to a minimum.The main advantages of this type of air suspension include being as comfortable as possible on trips in your vehicle and the fact that the optimum driving level can be achieved automatically.Full air suspension can be installed either just on the rear axle or on both the rear and front axles.
Yes, almost all motorhomes with AL-KO chassis can be retrofitted with air suspension, e.g. the Fiat Ducato, Peugeot Boxer, Citroën Jumper and – with some limitations – the Mercedes Sprinter.
Additional air suspension systems are only installed on the rear axle, while full air suspension systems can be mounted either on the rear axle or on both the front and rear axles.
No. Air suspension helps to improve driving comfort and make road holding more stable, as well as achieve higher levels of safety on the road, but is not a way of increasing the towable load.The towable load is primarily determined by the load capacity of the chassis and the vehicle’s suspension bracket.It is set by the manufacturer and cannot normally be changed.
It is important to note that using air suspension does not increase the towable load beyond the figure indicated.If you want to increase your motorhome’s towable load, you should contact the manufacturer or a specialist vehicle converter to determine whether this is technically possible and what modifications are needed.
We are happy to help you with any questions you may have.
If you want to retrofit an air suspension system, there are some important points you should pay attention to:
- first of all, make sure that the air suspension you’re after is suitable for your specific vehicle model and year of manufacture.Please refer to your vehicle data/registration documents in this regard.
- You should also invest in high-quality air suspension from a renowned manufacturer.Quality is crucial to ensuring good performance and durability.
- Please also note that air suspension affects the height of the vehicle.You should be able to adjust the height of your vehicle after installing an air suspension system to achieve the level you desire.
- In addition, the air suspension system must be right for the weight of your vehicle, especially if you intend on carrying higher additional loads.
Yes, an AL-KO chassis is a prerequisite for this spring system.
Yes, there are products on the market for vans, but AL-KO does not currently offer such a system.
AL-KO air suspension systems are maintenance-free. Products from other manufacturers sometimes have to be taken to a workshop for maintenance at regular intervals (e.g. on an annual basis).
In general, AL-KO air suspension systems are made to last and not very susceptible to failure, which is why almost all major motorhome manufacturers offer our products ex works.
However, if, for example, a plug-in connection becomes loose or air bellows become porous as time goes by, there is a Europe-wide network of AL-KO contract partners available for spare parts procurement and replacement.