Hydraulic Suspension Kits

In this brief article, we will discuss the Hydraulic suspension Kit, its applications and comparison to air suspension.

What is a Hydraulic Suspension Kit?

Hydraulic suspension kit is a retrofitted suspension system that is capable of making ride height changes to each corner suspension. The system has switches mounted in the dashboard that allow the driver to raise or lower any of the corner suspension heights at any time whilst driving.

What is a Hydraulic Suspension Kit used for?

A height-adjustable Hydraulic suspension kit is mostly not useful in everyday life and meant for purely ‘Recreational’ purposes. Cars with hydraulic kits are part of the “Low-Rider” genre among enthusiasts within the modified car world. The Low-Rider culture originated and became popular especially in the United States in Los Angeles and in Japan. Low-Rider cars also became symbolic of Hip-hop culture after they appeared in Rap music videos in the 1990’s.

The main utility of the Low-rider suspension is to allow the car to drive with the body as close as possible to the road surface. Another popular activity among Low-riders is to raise one corner whilst maintaining the other corners at the lowest position. Because the suspension reacts instantaneously, oscillating the front shocks to cause a bouncing in the front-end is also another popular activity.

Is Hydraulic Suspension Better than Air?

For the purposes that a Low-Rider is meant to serve, a Hydraulic system could be the better choice for the following reasons: 

  • Hydraulic suspensions tend to respond quicker when raising and lowering the suspension as compared to the equivalent air suspension arrangement. The reason being that hydraulic fluid compresses in a shorter time. For a competition-level car, a hydraulic system would be the recommended choice.
  • Air suspensions are prone to moisture accumulation when the air dryer mechanism malfunctions. The moisture then leads to internal damage and corrosion. Hydraulic systems, in comparison, are less prone to corrosion problems. 
  • A Low-Rider suspension’s main objective is to be as close to the ground as possible. When comparing the collapsed length, a hydraulic actuator is more compact as compared to an air bag since the air bag requires internal bump stops.
  • In terms of Ride Quality, the air suspension would have a superior quality of ride as compared to the hydraulic system. The Hydraulic suspension low-riders would therefore not be suitable for highway cruising. However, the installation of a compatible accumulator would improve the ride quality in a hydraulic system.
  • Air Bags are made of rubber and prone to weathering and cracking. The Air bags would need regular checks and timely replacements in order for the air suspension to run trouble free. The hydraulic cylinders, in comparison, tend to last longer and require lesser maintenance.

How does a Hydraulic Suspension Kit Work?

  • At the core of the system is an Oil Reservoir and a Hydraulic Pump located just below
  • The Hydraulic pump generates negative pressure and causes the oil in the reservoir to flow through the pump.
  • The Pump is connected to valves that send pressurized fluid into each suspension actuator cylinder.
  • There is a return valve that returns hydraulic fluid back to the reservoir once a corner is lowered

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have discussed the Hydraulic suspension Kit, its applications and comparison to air suspension.

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