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Old 04-08-2012, 09:53 AM   #1
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Airbags - installation / advantages?

After having the hitch scrape the ground driving out of a gas station I am thinking about suspension airbags - questions:

Installation:
- how long does it take for DIY? (avg skillset) special tools needed?
- single circuit or dual
- pump or no pump needed? how quickly do the bags loose air if parked?
- thinking about rear only right now, when are front ones recommended?

Advantages:
- some vendors claim "5000 pounds addl. weight capacity" - how much do they really help?
- How do they improve driving feel/handling?

Cons:
- any cons?

best model/shop to purchase from?
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Old 04-08-2012, 08:27 PM   #2
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Air bags are one of the first items I would consider on any heavy rig I drove. They are relatively inexpensive and do a good job of:

-Correcting sag on the left or right due to weight loading.
-Raising the rear if it sags.
-Helping the ride characteristics.

You don't need a fancy compressor if you are low on cash. You can just run lines out to a Schraeder valve on the body of the MH. With caps, air loss shouldn't be too much of an issue. Firestone makes them and so do a few others. Manual filling can be done with a bicycle pump if you like.
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:34 PM   #3
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Airbags have pros and cons. If you are installing them to prevent the hitch from hitting and raising the rear end, you will need to increase the air pressure in them. That is a pro. The con is that when you do that, the ride will suffer. The ideal situation is to have an on board compressor to easily adjust the pressure as needed, to balance ride versus height. As far as increasing load capacity, they are not designed for that purpose. They are designed to work with your springs and suspension to help level your ride height. People who have them seem to like them. The only drawback is that they can leak and need to be replaced. Although they are not hard to install, I would recommend a service facility or garage that works with trucks such as a spring shop. They have the expertise to look at the whole spring and axle setup and install the correct airbags with the correct mounts.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:31 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bearaboo View Post
Airbags have pros and cons. If you are installing them to prevent the hitch from hitting and raising the rear end, you will need to increase the air pressure in them. That is a pro. The con is that when you do that, the ride will suffer. The ideal situation is to have an on board compressor to easily adjust the pressure as needed, to balance ride versus height. As far as increasing load capacity, they are not designed for that purpose. They are designed to work with your springs and suspension to help level your ride height. People who have them seem to like them. The only drawback is that they can leak and need to be replaced. Although they are not hard to install, I would recommend a service facility or garage that works with trucks such as a spring shop. They have the expertise to look at the whole spring and axle setup and install the correct airbags with the correct mounts.
Totally agree but keep in mind that air bags DO NOT increase the weight rating of the vehicle. It will help level the rig if the front or rear is sagging. The GVWR will still be the same.
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Old 04-12-2012, 01:48 PM   #5
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For me the air bags were totally worth it. I took measurements of the fenders for all 4 corners with a 1/4 tank of gas. With a full tank, 50 gal of fresh and my trailer connected the hitch dropped 2" and the front raised some. The airbags leveled out the ride with 60psi. I can now always get a full tank of gas as the pump would shut off early leaving me with 7/8 as a full tank. The headlights are always pointed where they should be. The air bags have firmed up the ride and gotten rid of most of the sway from passing cars. I installed the Airlift 5000 myself. The one that is between the axle and frame as I may want to put bigger tires on. It took me longer to install the airbags as there is an axle vent line and brake line that was too close for me. So I repositioned to make me happy.
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Old 04-15-2012, 10:34 AM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback, the 31ft rig swayed all over the place driving back from Palm Springs in heavy head/cross winds this week, wasn't aware that airbags can help with that also.
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Old 09-25-2012, 07:15 AM   #7
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Resurrecting this thread. I installed a set of Air Lift Load Lifter 5000 bags last weekend. It was actually quite easy once I got the old jounce bumpers removed. Getting those off was the hardest part, that and having to work around the brake and fuel lines bracket that was clamped to the jounce bumper bolt through the frame. It took me about three hours.
My aging body is feeling it today though, not used to crawling around under the motorhome on my back and working overhead. But it gave me an excuse to buy a 12 ton jack and jackstands, so now I can work on it when I need to rather than pay someone to do it!
I too have the gas tank issue not filling completely. Since the rear of the motorhome is now where it should be I am anxious to see if the install helps correct the problem. And it sure seems to ride a lot better!
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Old 09-25-2012, 12:16 PM   #8
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Glad to hear you like the new Air Lift kit and that the installation was pretty straightforward. And yes, adding air springs will solve these common problems: squat, braking, steering, bottoming out, trailer sway, rough ride, body roll, and more. Look forward to hearing a review after a few months of use. Enjoy!
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Old 09-25-2012, 01:56 PM   #9
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My review I put front and rear on a 28 foot class A best money I spent
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Old 09-26-2012, 09:31 AM   #10
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I installed front and back airlifts. Works for what I wanted them for.
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Old 10-10-2012, 03:35 PM   #11
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i just ordered the air lift 1973-1982 Dodge M Class "A" Motorhome - "Load Lifter 5000" Air Bag Helper Springs & a heavy duty compressor. the old '73 is going to be riding nice very soon!!

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