The power of shocks: Powerdown

Air suspension systems have been standard equipment for truck and trailer applications for more than a decade and are ideal for improving driver comfort, as well as decreasing the chances of loads shifting or being damaged in-transit.

A component that is often overlooked on trailers, according to Powerdown Australia, is the shock absorber. Shocks are an integral part of the air suspension system, playing a critical role in controlling the movement or oscillation of the air spring. This in turn keeps the trailer tyres in contact with the road surface which has an overall effect on braking, control and vehicle stability.

“By far the biggest advantage of replacing worn out shock absorbers is a reduction in tyre wear,” said Powerdown – adding that tyre wear is one of the largest costs to a fleet or an owner operator behind fuel. “The role of the shock absorber is to keep the tyre in contact with the road surface; if the shock absorbers are worn out or not working the tyre will bounce in an uncontrolled manner scuffing the road surface and leaving flat wear spots on the tyre. This is also known as ‘scalloping’ due the appearance of the wear mark being similar to a potato scallop. This will significantly reduce the life of a tyre. By replacing shock absorbers, the cost per kilometre for a fleet’s tyres can be reduced.”

In addition to managing tyre wear, Powerdown says it is important to be aware of how vehicle stress affects the components. “Depending on the type of work the trailer carries out and the terrain it travels shock absorbers should be replaced at least every two-to-three years or even less in extreme applications. Where shock absorbers are fitted to trailers that carry fuel or in a stock crate application, the shock absorbers work extremely hard providing load stability due to the movement of the load. For this reason, their replacement should be included in a regular maintenance schedule to ensure that damaged components do not become a safety issue for the driver due to a reduction of vehicle control and responsiveness.”

As Australia has harsh climatic and road conditions, Powerdown is adamant that fleets should have shocks fitted to their vehicles that can handle these conditions. “Many of the shock absorbers on the market today have been designed to operate in Europe or the US in sub-zero temperatures, which by far will not last in our hot dry conditions. Powerdown’s range of shock absorbers have been designed and developed in Australia for over 35 years for our tough road conditions. Some of the many design features include high temperature oil and seals, larger body sizes for extra oil capacity and valving resistance specifically tuned for Australia’s uneven road surfaces.”

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