The so-called hydropneumatics is the name for a spring system that has been installed in Citroen vehicles for more than 5 decades. The spring system was developed in-house by the French car manufacturer and has proven itself since then. A hydropneumatic spring system does not require electronics, but works mechanically. The suspensions have meanwhile been supplemented by sensor systems and electronic computers, but can still perform their tasks mechanically if the electronics fail. The following explains whether the hydropneumatic spring system can be retrofitted and whether it is worth retrofitting.
How does hydropneumatics work?
The hydropneumatics work in conjunction with gas and hydraulic oil. The usual steel springs are not used in hydropneumatic spring systems. Gas and hydraulic oil is a combination that, according to the laws of physics, results in comfortable suspension. The hydraulic oil used does not compress and passes the pressure on with only minor losses. The gas used is usually nitrogen, which is located in a steel ball. Nitrogen and hydraulic oil are separated by a membrane. The hydraulic oil is compressed by the suspension strut of a wheel and acts on the gas. The gas cushions the pressure and, to put it simply, “pushes” back. Because the gas is compressed by the pressure and tries to expand again. The hydraulic oil is used as suspension damping in a hydropneumatic system. The oil flow is reduced between the spring ball and the spring cylinder, creating a damping effect. The damping and spring processes are carried out very quickly. Mechanical friction is not generated. The hydropneumatic suspension works even with very small bumps and is felt to be very comfortable.
Citroen vehicles work with level control
Citroën chassis that work with the hydropneumatic spring system have a so-called leveling, This means that the vehicle maintains the optimal height even when fully loaded. When the vehicle is loaded, the gas in the spring balls is compressed. An integrated height sensor registers this and as a result an oil pressure pump is activated, which pumps additional liquid into the steel balls. The process continues until the optimal height is restored. With Citroën, the driver can also adjust the height manually. For example, if you are traveling on dirt roads and want to drive higher, you can adjust the vehicle height yourself.
Hydropneumatic spring system - retrofitting?
There is a lot of discussion about whether air suspension systems can be retrofitted, while Citroën's hydropneumatics are neglected for other vehicles. In general, it is possible with a lot of effort and money to retrofit other than the conventional spring systems, but it is not financially worthwhile. It is speculated that the retrofitting of air suspensions costs from 5.000 euros upwards. If you absolutely want a different spring system, you should ask the manufacturer of the car or a tuning workshop for options and alternatives. The spring systems must function properly so that the vehicle is not damaged.
Successor: advanced comfort suspension
After decades, Citroën has developed a new chassis with the advanced comfort suspension. This required three innovations. The official name is "Citroën Advanced Comfort" and it is used in combination with new seats, a stiffer body and new suspension. The new system has shock absorbers from Kyb, two oil-bearing springs (one above, one below) meant that the maximum point of compression is softened. At the same time, this prevents reverberation. At the same time, the suspension travel has been increased and the chassis has been made 20 percent stiffer. At low speed, less vibration should get into the interior and violent bumps are taboo on rough bumps in the asphalt.
Not a Citroën? Then a different technique is better!
With enough money, plenty of creativity, technical expertise and a nice test engineer for the acceptance, it might be possible to install both the hydropneumatics and the new Citroën Advanced Comfort technology in a vehicle from another manufacturer. The sense and purpose of such an action can be questioned. A modern Airride air suspension can hardly be less comfortable and is much easier to install. In addition, the components are cheaper and the setting options, from extreme lowering to highering, are more diverse. This is a lot easier with a model from Citroen that is only equipped with a standard chassis, but can optionally be ordered with hydropneumatics or Citroën Advanced Comfort technology. Often the necessary mountings and some of the cable harnesses are already available, or at least prepared to enable retrofitting of the hydropneumatics or the new Citroën Advanced Comfort technology.
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