Air Lift Performance – Air Vs. Coilovers

-November 11, 2013-

Air Lift Performance – Air Vs. Coilovers

Mike Burroughs

The debate between air suspension versus coilover suspension has been a popular one for quite some time. Arguments for style, safety, utility, and practicality all flare up regularly, and bounce back and forth unsurprisingly. However, it's the argument of function and performance that stands above all others, and while few are prepared to argue that purpose-built racing suspension will be outshined by air struts, Air Lift Performance has put together a video pitting their best against your typical coilover system.

Air Lift's own description is as follows: "At Carolina Motorsports Park we loaded up 3 very different cars with 2 different suspensions and one very qualified third party driver. Our mission was to do back to back tests on statically lowered suspension, swap in Air Lift Performance suspension and hit the track again.

To test all aspects of the 2 different suspensions we performed three separate tests: a 200 ft skid pad, 100 ft slalom, and a 2.3 mile road course. We gathered all the data and figured up the averages of each run with each vehicle on the different suspensions. All that remains are the cold hard facts."

Take from it what you will - in any case, we're excited to see the outcome. Anyone else up for doing a comparison? What do you think of the results?

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Comments on Air Lift Performance – Air Vs. Coilovers

  • SLV

    What is my “typical coilover system”? Because the coilovers on the Golf R seem to be quite soft. Still a really good outcome for the Air Lifts though.

  • BitMutt

    Grain of salt…

  • Eirik

    Don’t really trust it. Seeing they are testing their own product. We don’t know what they could have done, or what they were using to be sure. But still fun. Would be great seeing someone totally independent testing two “equally priced” systems against eachother. Yet to see a racecar on air :) But for a show/daily/slow/family car, yesss.

  • BranTheDon_

    What brand coilovers did they use?

  • chidosanchez

    hahhaa “pitting their best against your typical coilover system.” Must have used Tein Basics. If that was the case I would have expected the margins to be far greater than they were favoring Air Lift, yet the margin was minimal. Hundredths on the skid and less than a second on the slalom and course. 
    They “seemed” to have done a great job installing, setting up, and calibrating the systems in each car, and logging data, but failied to provide the vital component; which brand and model coils did they use for the testing. Also be wary of companies doing tests to prove that their product is superior.

  • Charlie Scott

    While, yes, they never mentioned what coil setup was installed, you can still see that air-ride can be brought to the track with good results. That’s what I take away from this video. There can never be a perfect comparison between the two different suspension systems, but it does go to show that even with air, you can get out on the track and have a blast.

  • ADDvanced

    Those coilovers in the golf looked REALLY, REALLY soft.  I get that Stanceworks is getting in bed with sponsors, but this is seriously a commercial.  This is not anything like independent testing when they won’t even give us the specs on what they’re comparing their air system too.

  • SuperBlackS14

    While it did kinda blow my mind to see air-shocks out-perform any coilover system, my first question was echoed by many other: “what brand/setup of coilovers did they use?”

  • Hakosuka

    Looks like they tested against OEM suspension. I wonder how would an equally priced  set of coilovers such as KW come out of the test. I bet it would be much better.Still, thumbs up for developing “track” oriented air suspension :)

  • Nelsonnnnnnn

    A proper tuned set of coilovers,weights,camber etc perfectly adjusted is better all the way long than  air suspension,this video is pure marketing,why racing cars wear fully adjusted coilovers in front of air suspension then?

  • Nelsonnnnnnn

    It looks more OEM suspension rather than coilovers,who they want to cheat?we are car maniacs,we realize that type of stuff.

  • Mike

    What about the longevity usage? if i remember correctly there is a lot of heat built up in race cars over an endurance race. How are Airbags when you start to consider the ambient heat of the racing environment combined with the repetitive motions of the suspension over a 6+ hour period. 
    combine that with all of the other concerns other posters have posted and i will be convinced that an air ride suspension is performance oriented.
    oh and id rather see a scientific experiment rather than a marketing gimick. the control points were rather lax, not all of the information was given. the three different cars all have remarkably different suspension geometries, averaging the laptimes between the 3 cars clouds the results, you do nothing to constrain the type of suspension setup (live axle, multi link or semi trailing arm) they should be kept separate. 
    so what i see is that in average an airlift performance setup will give me overall great results in the handeling, but i have no information about how it would handle for MY setup, thats how the data will speak for its self.

  • TomP

    Wow, a company testing its own product vs an unspecified brand, I can’t believe the outcome. Also, if these results are representative of the facts, tell me why every LMP1 car is bagged… This just lowers the company’s credibility, nobody is trying to take away anything from air suspension, but when it tries to be something it’s not, it needs to be put in it place.

  • TomP

    *Isn’t bagged

  • onewe

    Coilover means the spring is coiled over the shock and not seperate. I bet my left ball its just stock suspension or worse judging by the roll

  • MarkGallemitPacatang

    Imagine your tire? Same concept air on rubber. Tires rub on the road and carry load. While air suspension just carry load.

  • jackmass

    No really they have lowering springs that are designed for your car. coil overs are adjustable springs you can go lower or even higher then stock and are alot stiffer then normal springs

  • Flash635

    It seems to me that the coilovers were a softer spring rte than the airbags. 
    What would the results have been if the steel springs were the same rate as the air springs?

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