Winter Safety Check

Yvette Koehorst/ December 15, 2021/ Arnott Europe

As Christmas is approaching, the season is changing from fall to winter. With temperatures dropping, the winter season requires a reliable car to ensure you and your family stay safe on the roads. As preparation for the colder climate, many car owners take their vehicle to the workshop just before the winter starts to be prepared for the cold spells and altering road conditions. A free winter check is a good way to attract customers to the workshop and thus a lot of workshop offer this service.

A common task during this check is a tire change to winter tires, providing more grip and stability in this often colder period of rain, hail, and snow. Changing the tires is also a great occasion to check the air suspension system. When the wheels are removed, it is easy and convenient to check the condition of the air struts, air springs and shock absorbers as part of the winter check routine.

What to check?

It is important to check if all components are still in good condition. A casual talk with the car owner can already reveal possible air suspension issues. You could ask if the car drops more than 2,5 cm overnight or if the car is sometimes lower in one corner. If the customer has noticed these things, a further inspection is necessary.

As with many car components, weather influences the functioning and life span of air suspension components. If small cracks are present during the winter check, it is wise to advise air spring replacement. Explain the customer that in cold temperatures, the rubber of the air spring becomes a bit harder and less flexible. Since the aging rubber begins to show small cracks on the rolling piston side, the cold temperature might give it the last push to burst thereby stranding the car.

An existing leak can be found by spraying the components with a water and soap solution. If you see bubbles appearing, you know there is a leak. Nevertheless, stay alert – not all leaks are easily found. A leak can also be located on the unfolding edge of the air spring, which is not visible at normal ride height. Do not forget to check the air spring struts and shock absorbers for oil leakage and excessive rust.

Inspect the condition of the air inlet hose on the compressor as well. The combination of cold temperatures and compressor vibrations could cause the hose to crack. A cracked hose causes the compressor to suck in moisture and dirt instead of pure filtered air. When unnoticed for too long, it has significant implications on the functioning of the air suspension system. Too much moisture in the system can cause oxidation and problems in the valve block when it freezes. The failing valve block will prevent the vehicle from leveling and a fault code will show on the instrument cluster.

Result

Using the opportunity to check the air suspension components during a winter check or tire change will benefit both the workshop as well as the car owner. By performing these quick checks, the customer can be assured that his vehicle is safe to drive and (expensive) consequential damage, like a burned-out compressor, can be avoided.

The benefit for a workshop is not only delivering great customer service, but also potential additional turnover. Usually when there is a faulty air suspension component, it must be repaired for the system to fully function and maintain a comfortable and safe ride. Finding a leak during the tire change means that this spring must be replaced, providing the workshop additional turnover. So, the next time you do a tire change, check the air suspension components!