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Firestone Air Springs
By Larry Edsall

Air spring keep your ride firmly planted
Paul Gibson, product manager for the Ride-Rite division of Firestone Industrial Products, told a wonderfully illustrative story about someone he knows who decided to put a snowplow on the front of sport utility vehicle. When it came time to raise the heavy plow after installation, instead of the plow going up, it was the rear of the vehicle that lifted off the ground.

Gibson told the story to illustrate the effect that a heavy payload – and that includes pulling a trailer -- can have on a pickup truck or sport utility vehicle or recreation vehicle, albeit usually at the rear of the truck, and to remind people that air springs offer an inexpensive solution.

But, he added, air springs do more than keep a loaded vehicle level. They also help level off-center loads, reduce suspension fatigue and bottoming out, improve ride quality in all conditions and also vehicle stability.

"Keeping a heavily loaded vehicle level is essential for maintaining proper steering control and braking effectiveness, for reducing tire wear and even keeping headlight beams on the road," he explained.

Though more widely known as a tire maker, Firestone has been in the air spring business since 1934, and has been an original equipment air spring supplier ever since, on vehicles ranging from a mid-30's Plymouth to the Hummer H2.

Firestone's aftermarket air springs can be used on everything from a pickup truck to street and hot rods.

Gibson noted that the basic air spring kit costs around $300, and that many installations are available with no-drill installation. The kit includes brackets, air springs, hardware, air line and separate valves for manual inflation. Installation usually takes less than two hours. Optional accessories are available so ride height can be adjusted from switchgear mounted on the dashboard or so off-roaders can re-inflate tires after a day on the sand.

For more information, visit the www.ride-rite.com website.

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