Caravans are a way for you and your family to explore all kinds of weird and wonderful places.
Needless to say, every caravan has suspension—or, the distance between the vehicle itself and the ground—to ensure that your travels are comfortable and safe from road shocks and obstacles.
Therefore, in this article, we will take a closer look at suspension systems: what they are, the different types, and how to know which suspension system is the right one for you.
What Exactly Are Suspension Systems?
The suspension system is what makes your travels more comfortable by keeping a safe distance between your caravan and the road.
More importantly, the main purpose of suspension systems is to absorb road shocks and noise and be strong enough to keep your caravan safely attached behind your vehicle.
There are two main parts of the suspension: the spring and the damper, or the shock absorber.
The spring of the suspension system is elastic and can either be used for compression when a wheel hits a bump or as an extension when the wheel encounters a pothole in the ground.
Dampers also have the role of converting the shock they absorb into thermal energy.
As such, they have to be able to handle large quantities of heat especially if you go on long travels.
The Two Basic Types of Suspension Systems
While there are many types of suspension systems, there are two basic and common suspension systems: live axle and independent.
They differ in wheel relation and spring usage. Here are the main differences between the two:
1). Live Axle
Also known as a solid or beam axle, a live axle suspension system is a single axle that has one wheel on each end.
They are typically used with leaf springs which are best for on-road caravans as they do have the tendency to sag and flatten out.
Unlike the live axle suspension system, an independent suspension system has two shorter axles that are not connected together.
This can be an advantageous system because should one wheel be affected by whichever cause, the other wheel is not affected as much.
The independent suspension system also has more ground clearance and is capable of fostering wheel alignment adjustments such as toe and camber.
Toe occurs when the wheel is not proportionate with the trailer, and camber occurs when the wheel leans slightly inwards.
Independent systems are also commonly used with coil or air bag which are best for off-road caravans as they have better shock-absorbing capacities.
However, it is also important to note that coil springs may become compressed and will need to be replaced if this occurs.
What Other Types Of Suspension Systems Are There?
Live axle and independent suspension systems are the most basic suspension system types.
Here are the different variations of each system along with their distinct characteristics.
1). Leaf Spring Suspension
As mentioned above, leaf springs are commonly used by live-axle suspension systems.
They have been around for a long time but are still good at absorbing road shocks. Generally, they are not recommended for off-road usage.
An important note is that because leaf springs are used for live-axle suspension systems when one wheel is affected, the anatomy of the other side of the caravan is affected as well.
This may lead to the springs suffering from changing wheel camber and the caravan may ultimately suffer from bump steer issues.
2). Air Bag Suspension System
The airbag suspension system is a pressurised rubber bag to absorb the load of the caravan.
This makes it advantageous as you will be able to travel over any terrain no matter how rough because it allows for ride height and stiffness.
From its name, it does require that there be a supply of air on-board. This can come from a cylinder or air compressor.
This can be quite expensive though, so it is also important to keep this in mind
3). Independent Rubber Suspension
This suspension system is ideal for those seeking a simple and lightweight suspension system.
The independent rubber suspension system is a bolt-on system that makes use of a hexagonal tube that spans the whole trailer and is composed of three rubber elements.
Shock absorbers are not necessary to install as it is self-damping but may be installed if you want extra support.
This allows you to properly control the height of your caravan.
So how will you know which suspension system you should purchase? Well, it is important to determine the following: is your caravan off-road or on-road? How heavy will be the load will you be travelling with? Will you be travelling long distances?
All of these questions are important to consider before purchasing a suspension system.
Hopefully, this article sheds some light on the different suspensions and how they can be applied in different scenarios so that you can wisely spend your hard-earned money.
If you are looking for a reliable, high-quality caravan chassis, then look no further than ARV Chassis & Trailers.
Please call us today on (03) 9111 5367 or message us through our contact page if you want the best caravan chassis in the market.