ACTIVE SYSTEMS AND AIR SUSPENSIONS

Bilstein explains OE and aftermarket trends

Bilstein says it is known for its high-quality shock absorbers and suspension solutions, supplying performance products for the aftermarket as well as series replacement parts in OE quality or better.
As an original equipment manufacturer, the renowned German manufacturer has also been at the forefront of the development of new shock absorber technologies since the 1950s.
In the future, the company is certain that suspension systems will continue to gain in intelligence. It explains that some of the most modern systems are already reacting to the respective road conditions with foresight and in line with requirements.
Bilstein says this enables the suspension to provide the optimum spring and damping force in advance. To do this, it is necessary to collect a wide range of information via sensors.
Bilstein says its E-Active Body Control and DampTronic X reflect the latest developments for standard equipment. The first has recently been introduced in the Mercedes GLE.
The ‘Road Surface Scan’ is reportedly just one of several innovative features: the suspension reacts to bumps detected by a camera, controls the active suspension struts and largely compensates for unevenness when driving over them.
Bilstein states another highlight is the ‘Curve’ driving mode, in which the GLE actively tilts in three stages, similar to a motorcycle. DampTronic X, on the other hand, is used in the new Porsche 911 of the 992 series and enables an unbelievably large damping force spread.
It says this has been increased by up to 40 percent compared to the predecessor in order to balance driving comfort and agility even better. The DampTronic X damper is also equipped with a very fast-switching adjustment valve that allows the required damping forces to be adjusted in milliseconds. The requirements are determined by a central control unit.
In addition to active systems based on conventional gas pressure shock absorbers, air suspension systems are also relatively common today. The breakthrough reportedly came in the late 1990s with the Mercedes S-Class W220 series, with Bilstein’s involvement.
The new Land Rover Defender is a very recent application example. In this case, the suspension manufacturer supplies the semi-active DampTronic technology with air suspension module, which enables an unimagined range between off-road performance and road comfort.
The electronic damping force adjustment is performed by a setup that adjusts itself automatically and continuously to the respective requirements: with the aid of additional sensors, the driving situation and vehicle status are recorded in a central control unit.

In general, however, active shock absorbers and air suspension systems are becoming increasingly common, even in older vehicles. A good example of this is the Mercedes E-Class S211 estate car with air-sprung rear axle, for which Bilstein has been supplying OE-quality replacement parts as standard for some time now. Due to its widespread use, it offers motor vehicle workshops a particularly high potential for repairs.
As an option, the W211/S211 series was also available with AIRMATIC full air suspension. Bilstein says it therefore also offers B4 air suspension modules for the front axle.
In contrast to many competitors, Bilstein explains only brand-new components are used, so that functionality and quality are 100 percent at OE level. For reconditioned old parts however, used shock absorbers with uncertain mileage are often used, which can have a negative effect on the performance and durability of the entire unit.
In some cases, some integrated functions are simply shut down: for example, the solenoid valves. A formerly active suspension thus becomes a passive one. Bilstein says this results in a significant quality defect that is not in keeping with its high standards and is therefore a no-go for the company.

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