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Old 03-15-2014, 04:59 PM   #1
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Are Air Ride Systems Worth the Money?

My father in law had the Air Ride bags on his 35 foot Coachman. Now that we inherited it, I have been going over the coach to see what needs to be done. It's a 1998 and has 22,000 miles. The front air bags are inside the front coil springs and they hold air fine. The rear air system's rubber components are completely gone. The brackets are there with some rubber fragments hanging on.

I drove the coach from West Virginia to Colorado and I thought it rode remarkably well. That was my first time driving a class A rig, so maybe my inexperience is an issue.

The replacement rubber components are rather expensive and it seems to me they should last at least 22,000 miles. Give me some insight.

Dave
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Old 03-15-2014, 05:16 PM   #2
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I would look to see if you can stiffen the sway bars and installing a rear trak bar to improve the handling. I personally wouldn't spend the money on air bags.
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Old 03-15-2014, 06:17 PM   #3
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It isn't the 22,000 miles but the 16 years that did the air bags in. It is apparently on a Chevrolet chassis and you should always keep a minimum pressure in the air bags tom prevent them from pinching and cutting inside the springs. The GVW of the chassis will determine minimum pressure as well as maximum. Is it a Bounder or a Coachman?
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Old 03-16-2014, 05:08 AM   #4
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Duh, Bounder. My trailer is a Coachman.

I'm happy with the handling. We encountered some significant wind in Kansas and I was surprised at the stability. I'm puzzled why the air lift system was installed in the first place.
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Old 03-18-2014, 02:03 PM   #5
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You can buy replacemant air springs online. they are reletively cheap and easy to replace. they make rough roads much smoother and less vibrations sent into the coach itself.

Craig & Carolyn Roberts 2006 Newmar Kountry Star KSDP 3910
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Old 03-18-2014, 08:14 PM   #6
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If your chassis is GM/Chevrolet, the front air bags are factory stock to accommodate insufficient weight capacity of the stepvan-based front suspension. There are heavier springs available from IRV2 suppliers that eliminate the need for air bags.

The rear airbags are almost certainly aftermarket. Either an attempt to assist handling or address a side to side weight imbalance. If the handling seems acceptable after your driving, maybe you don't need the rear bags. Suggest you have a four corner weight done before proceeding with any additional modifications.

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Originally Posted by Dave1194 View Post
My father in law had the Air Ride bags on his 35 foot Coachman. Now that we inherited it, I have been going over the coach to see what needs to be done. It's a 1998 and has 22,000 miles. The front air bags are inside the front coil springs and they hold air fine. The rear air system's rubber components are completely gone. The brackets are there with some rubber fragments hanging on.

I drove the coach from West Virginia to Colorado and I thought it rode remarkably well. That was my first time driving a class A rig, so maybe my inexperience is an issue.

The replacement rubber components are rather expensive and it seems to me they should last at least 22,000 miles. Give me some insight.

Dave
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Old 03-18-2014, 10:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George Schweikle View Post
If your chassis is GM/Chevrolet, the front air bags are factory stock to accommodate insufficient weight capacity of the stepvan-based front suspension. There are heavier springs available from IRV2 suppliers that eliminate the need for air bags. The rear airbags are almost certainly aftermarket. Either an attempt to assist handling or address a side to side weight imbalance. If the handling seems acceptable after your driving, maybe you don't need the rear bags. Suggest you have a four corner weight done before proceeding with any additional modifications.
George, I need to know more about the four corner weight. Is this to verify that my weight is equalized? Or to help me determine how much suspension compensation I need per wheel?

My chassis is indeed Chevrolet. Thanks for the good information on the front coil spring bags. I thought my father in law had installed them aftermarket.

We are taking the MH on our maiden trip in June. I'll have a better idea of its handling then. But at this time I can't see how spending more money could significantly improve it's handling. Guess this greenhorn might have to go through the school of hard knocks before he parts with his cash!
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Old 03-19-2014, 10:22 AM   #8
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Hey Dave1194, I have a 82 Pace Arrow and I had the air bags installed front and rear. Brand (Airlifts) The guys that work on my stuff recommended them after I bought the old gal. Yes it improved the ride by quite a bit. It also helps to keep the MH level front/back. There were none on her when I bought it. Well worth the monies to have them installed. JMO
I also am planning on getting Koni shocks when I can afford them.
JMO, tb
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Old 08-09-2014, 08:28 AM   #9
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I have replaced the rear Air Ride leaf spring units and they have indeed made a difference.

However, the bladders that insert into the front coil springs are a problem. The bladders cannot be inserted into the coils per the Air Lift instructions. A local heavy duty suspensions dealer says the coils must be removed and the bladders inserted from the top of the coils. He wants $400 to do this work.

I asked if there are alternatives. He advised that heavy duty coils may be installed that will raise the front about two inches. This upgrade will cost $800. His opinion is that this is a better value because the bladders really don't make much of a difference.

What are your opinions and experiences?


Thanks.
Dave.
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Old 08-09-2014, 11:46 PM   #10
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Yes they are not easy to install. New springs are double the price but you won't have to worry about blowing one out and having to replace it again.
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Old 08-11-2014, 02:13 PM   #11
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To insert the bladders in that small hole in the bottom of the A-frame sometimes soaking them in hot water then folding like a hot dog bun, use zip ties to keep them small then cut the ties as they come up against the hole. It also helps to clean any rust and debris out from inside the springs and spray very liberally with silicone that whole area. It's not easy but can be done. Google it and you will find others that have done it themselves with pics and instructions. I, personally wouldn't put $800 into it.
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Old 08-12-2014, 08:17 PM   #12
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Are Air Ride Systems worth the money?

I have spent the past 34 years working in the HD commercial bus building business. I have worked on the building end of the bus business and also driving millions of miles on the delivery end of the business. I have delivered all over North America. If you haven't driven and ridden on an air ride system and also a steel sprung suspension system you cannot really assess the difference in the ride. My experience is there is a significant difference in the handling and ride of an air suspension vs. a steel sprung suspension system. Each to his own. For my money I like to enjoy the ride I have invested in. For what you have in the overall investment of your MH you need to be able to enjoy it too. JMO
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Old 08-12-2014, 09:17 PM   #13
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Runaway, to quote you, "My experience is there is a significant difference in the handling and ride of an air suspension vs. a steel sprung suspension system."

I agree that the air suspension for my rear leaf springs are great. But does your statement above also apply to the coil spring inserts?
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Old 08-13-2014, 04:21 PM   #14
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Dave I can answer that. My first motorhome was a 1995 29' class C Winnebago on a Ford E350 chassis. This thing was a beast in any kind of wind, passing semi's and rough roads. The service writer at the dealer told me that air springs would increase the stability and make the ride much smoother. So I purchased the set for the rear and the set for the front coils and installed the whole system myself. It had the twin "I" beam suspension. That became a whole different animal to drive. It was so smooth that you could crawl into the rear bed and you didn't even know you were going down the road. As for as the front it made the rough roads smooth and the steering was more stable and responsive. You could drive it with one finger. I could drive those long days across country and not be fatigued at the end of the day. Even with side and head winds. I'm retired now and so glad I don't have to do those long hauls anymore. Also my son-in-law has an older P chassis. His airbags blew out and he didn't realize it. It put so much torque on the front sway bar that it broke the bolts that connect it to the lower "A" arms. That chassis was designed with those air bags for a reason. Hope I was of some help.
P.S. We love Old Town in the Springs. Town needs more RV parks.

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