Firestone Industrial Products has released a brief guideline for vehicle owners and service providers inspecting air springs.
Though there are no set industry standards on how often to inspect air springs, Firestone says there are a variety of recommendations on the topic from different air spring or suspension system manufacturers. Firestone says truck owners should take all of these into consideration and decide which routine works best for them and their schedule.
Truck drivers can perform basic walkaround inspections at their own discretion, from daily to once a week, to ensure that the suspension is fully operational. Typically, these are quick, visual inspections to make sure there are no signs of irregular wear, tears or heat cracking on the air spring and that nothing is touching it or interfering with its movement. Inspectors should also check air springs for sufficient and equal pressure and make sure that the suspension is set at proper ride height, the company says.
Firestone says inspectors also should check for any buildup of dirt, debris or rust or corrosion on the piston, which can create a surface similar to sandpaper and abrade the air spring. It is also a good idea to check for oil, grease or dirt buildup on the air spring itself. If any buildup is found on the piston or the air springs, Firestone says the inspector should clean these parts, using soap and water, methyl alcohol, ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol — the only industry-approved cleaning solutions for air springs.
“You should never use organic solvents, open flames, abrasives or direct pressurized steam for cleaning air springs. If anything is found to be rubbing against the air springs, the driver should take the rig in for service,” Firestone says.
Every 100,000 miles or once a year — whichever comes first — the air spring suspension system of a semi-tractor trailer also should undergo a routine maintenance inspection. These inspections include the steps taken in the drivers’ basic inspections, plus a more in-depth examination of the rest of the air spring system, Firestone says.
The air springs should be fully inflated during these inspections and examined closely for leaks. If the inspector notices even the slightest air leak, the air spring will need to be replaced, the company says. The inspector should also check to ensure that there is sufficient clearance around the complete circumference of the air spring when it is inflated to its maximum diameter, the company says.