Thinking of putting hydraulics in your car? Does the thought of having a car that bounces amaze you? Are you wondering how much money you’ll need to have hydraulics installed in your car? How much do hydraulics actually cost?
The most basic hydraulic system will cost around $400. More high technology systems will be around $1000 or above. Mechanics will cost anywhere from $80 to $100 per hour. Pumps will cost around $500 each, and you’ll need 2-4 of these. You’ll also need multiple car batteries. Maintenance and repairs will also be more costly as compared to other suspension systems.
Read on to find out more about the cost of hydraulics, how they work, the pros, the cons, and so much more.
How Much Do Hydraulics Cost?
When you install a hydraulic system in your car, it now becomes a lowrider. A car with hydraulic suspension gives the car the ability to raise and lower down quickly. Depending on the technology of the hydraulics, it will also be able to bounce, hop, and jump. There are, in fact, many dancing car shows for lowriders.
The most basic hydraulic system will cost around $400. More high technology systems will be around $1000 or above. You’ll need more equipment for your hydraulic suspension. To install it, you’ll need a professional, and mechanics will charge an hourly rate of anywhere from $80 to $100 per hour.
Of course, you’ll need to install actuators or pumps, which means you’ll need to shell out more money. These actuators let you raise or lower the wheels. The minimum for these actuator kits is for two wheels, and they cost about $1000.
If you’re getting three pumps, they’re about $1400, and for four pumps, they cost about $1800. If you’re having the pumps installed by a professional, be ready to pay more for labor.
How Does A Hydraulic System Work?
A Suspension System Holds the Vehicle’s Weight
Cars, trucks, vans, and utility vehicles all have a suspension system. The vehicle’s suspension is responsible for supporting the vehicle’s weight, absorbing shock from the road that can come from bumps. It allows the vehicle to be steered according to the driver’s input.
Hydraulic Systems Use a Hydraulic Acurator
Hydraulic systems use a hydraulic actuator. A hydraulic actuator is a cylinder that can be filled with liquid. These cylinders are connected to each wheel. The actuators are attached to a compressor so that liquid can be quickly pumped into the actuator with great force.
The resulting force causes it to expand and raises the wheels, sort of like a small explosion. The actuator system runs on car batteries, and the more batteries you use, the quicker the liquid gets pumped, so the car is raised much higher. Sometimes, the car gets raised so high it makes it unsafe to have people inside. When this is the case, a remote switch is used to trigger the pump.
To lower the hydraulics, the liquid is pumped out so that the pressure is released.
Hydraulic systems are complex, and they can get to be expensive. We mentioned earlier that pumps cost approximately $500 each, and then you’ll need to buy extra car batteries for the pumps to work.
Upon Installation, You Can Raise or Lower Your Wheels
When you install a hydraulic system in your car, you’ll have switches on a control panel. You’ll use these switches to make your car perform. The movements that can be possible with a hydraulic system are – raising and lowering the front or rear wheels, raising and lowering all four wheels, raising and lowering the side wheels, and raising and lowering just three wheels.
Can Hydraulics Be Bad For Your Car?
Car hydraulics, over time, won’t be good for you because they tend to strain the suspension and undercarriage of your car. Hydraulics are heavy and can make it difficult to control your car. They can also make a ride feel uncomfortable. Furthermore, if you install car hydraulics, you can’t drive faster than 15km/hr because it will be harder to control your car at speeds faster than that.
You’ll need a lot of additional equipment when you install hydraulics, and all of these need to be maintained regularly. A hydraulic system is best for people who want to take on a hobby or for car shows. They aren’t recommended for everyday driving.
Can I Switch to a Hydraulic Suspension Easily?
Yes, hydraulic suspension kits can be easily bought but installing them is a whole different story. Hydraulics is actually a specialized thing, and even if you do get a kit, chances are there will still be some need for customization. Hydraulic installation is not an install-it-and-off-we-go thing.
That’s why it sits well with hobbyists who like to tinker and improve the system. If you want to get a hydraulic suspension, it’s always best to have a professional install it for you.
History of Car Hydraulics
Joseph Bramah patented the hydraulic press in 1795, and they were used for airplanes, bulldozers, cranes, and other machinery. It was in 1955 when Ron Aguirre first raised his car using hydraulics. His Corvette XSonic was a sight to behold as it raised high up on its wheels.
It was controlled by a remote and was all-electric. He installed the hydraulic suspension for the simple reason of avoiding scrapes from speed bumps.
After World War II, the lowrider interest was stirred up. They became extremely popular in California. It has evolved to become a hobby for many car enthusiasts and many “bouncing” shows. The vehicles entered in these shows vary from classic cars to modern cars to even trucks!
What Makes Up A Hydraulic System?
Rams will replace your car’s shock and spring setup. Most often, you’ll need to mount them for customization. The rams get filled with hydraulic fluid so that the car can be raised. When the rams are emptied, the car gets lowered.
Cars that have hydraulic suspension usually don’t need springs. But, adding springs can help absorb shock and provide for a more comfortable ride.
Hydraulic pumps provide power to the hydraulic system. These pumps are heavy-duty and very powerful. The system may use anywhere from two to four pumps – the more pumps, the faster the response rate of the hydraulics.
4. Fluid Lines
Fluid lines are super heavy-duty hoses where hydraulic fluid passes through. They’re attached to metal connectors and need to be really strong because of the amount of pressure it gets. Detecting leaks in the fluid lines and connectors is easy because the high pressure will leak or spray heavily.
Imagine raising and lowering a car, making it bounce and dance? To be able to do this, you’ll need really powerful electricals. So, it is common to find hydraulic suspensions running on several batteries. Some cars even use more than 10 batteries, along with heavy-duty wires plus maybe two alternators.
Cars with hydraulic suspension will need more than the regular 12-volt electrical system since they use a lot of power. It isn’t uncommon to find them running on 24-volt or even as high as 240-volt power.
Again, how much do hydraulics cost? The simplest hydraulics systems cost around $400 U.S., while a more sophisticated system can cost more than $1,000. The cost of the labor to install hydraulics depends on the system’s complexity. Maintenance and repairs will also be more costly as compared to other suspension systems.
Hydraulic Suspension Pros and Cons
1. Firmer Ride
The hydraulic suspension you install in your car will provide a firmer ride.
2. Faster Reaction Time
Compared to a standard coil spring suspension, a hydraulic suspension gives you a faster reaction time, so if you’re driving over a bump in the road, your car’s response will be instant. The hydraulic fluid is responsible for this as it handles the shock it receives.
Another plus to having a hydraulic suspension is that it is customized. You can totally have the shocks adjusted to how high or low you want them to be. Of course, you need to discuss with your mechanic or installer exactly how you want them to be customized. If you have no idea, seek an expert’s advice.
1. More Expensive than Standard Suspension
There are drawbacks to using a hydraulic suspension. For starters, they’re much more expensive than the standard suspension that uses steel springs.
2. Costly to Maintain and Repair
They are also more costly to maintain and repair. Add to that. It can be difficult to find a repair shop that will repair hydraulic suspensions.
3. Prone to Leaks
A hydraulic suspension can be prone to leaks because of the tremendous pressure that goes through the system. Although it is easy to detect leaks in a hydraulic suspension, some fluid leaks can lead to serious vehicle damage if left unrepaired.
4. Bumpy Ride
The hydraulic suspension also tends to give you a bumpy ride.
Common Mistakes in Maintaining a Hydraulic Suspension
A hydraulic suspension is expensive, so it needs to be well-maintained to lessen the need for repairs because repairs can be costly.
Here are some common mistakes that need to be avoided:
1. Not Doing Oil Changes
The hydraulic suspension uses oil and suppressed gas to make it run. The oil will degenerate over time. You’ll need to change the oil from time to time. However, before you do that oil change, analyze if it really is time for changing. Hydraulic fluid is expensive, so make sure you do the change only as necessary.
Let me reiterate that oil analysis will be the perfect basis for an oil change. The only set rule here is to change it after the first 50 hours of service since it is dirtiest right after the first 50 hours because of all the debris from the installation.
Thereafter, change the fluid when it is dirty only. Many will think that an oil change is necessary after driving so and so distance. The fluid may still be clean, and you’d be wasting money. The best thing really is to do a visual inspection if the fluid is dirty before you change it.
2. Using Oil of Low Quality
Hydraulic fluid is the life of the entire hydraulic suspension, so don’t scrimp on this. The hydraulic fluid will lubricate the components in the system to guarantee that it runs smoothly and safely.
3. Not Taking Notice If the Filter Needs to Be Changed
Check your oil filter regularly. You’ll know it’s time to change when it’s holding a lot of dirt and almost at full capacity. If you don’t check the filter regularly, it may be too late as the dirt can contaminate the oil and damage the components of the system.
Replacing your filter needs to be done just before it reaches the maximum capacity for holding dirt. A clogging indicator is a device that’s highly recommended you use so that you can track the condition of your filter.
4. Ignoring Overheating
At the first sign of overheating, turn off your engine and find out what the problem is. When your car overheats, your fluid lines, seals, and other components are highly at risk for serious damage. Overheating can also be harmful to your hydraulic fluid.
Conclusion: How Much Do Hydraulics Cost?
A fundamental hydraulic system will cost around $400. More high technology systems will be around $1000 or more. You’ll need a mechanic to install it for you, and they charge anywhere from $80 to $100 per hour.
Pumps will cost around $500 each, and you’ll need 2-4 of these. You’ll also need multiple car batteries. Maintenance and repairs will also be more costly as compared to other suspension systems.
Hydraulics have become popular for the benefits they offer, but it’s still difficult to reduce the costs of getting one installed.