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Old 06-13-2021, 04:36 PM   #1
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How to know if you need new air bags

This is a 2002 Allure 36 foot with 60K miles on it, mostly freeway driven. Air bags will be 20 years old next year. Wondering if they should be replaced, what bags to use and what I should budget for buying and shop replacement. I know they cost about $200 each, how big a deal is changing them?
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Old 06-13-2021, 06:04 PM   #2
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Iím curious too...

Is this an issue where you start getting slow leaks?

Or are you driving down the road and ďBAMĒ!

Odd that tires seem good for 6 years, yet 20-25 year old airbags are common...
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Old 06-13-2021, 06:33 PM   #3
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I do not know the answer to your question.

Most will tell you to be proactive and do it now. Any other answer could prove wrong.

Our bags are on their 26th year and look fairly decent (I checked recently during a tire removal event). They do not leak.

FWIW my CC manual says that the rig can be driven to a repair point if the other bag(s) on the axle are reduced to the same volume of air as the failed bag. My rig only has the 4 bags.

I understand there is a rubber bumper inside the bag setup that keeps the frame off the axle when the bag is deflated.

I suspect the ride will be different and one should probably consider the driveshaft angle on the drive axle.

A blowout of a bag might incur collateral damage.
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Old 06-13-2021, 08:13 PM   #4
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I too am watching the responses on this issue....

We canít drive over 5-6 yrs on a set of tires...but the airbags are now 19 yrs old!

Thanks for bringing this up.
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Old 06-13-2021, 08:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deandec View Post
I do not know the answer to your question.

Most will tell you to be proactive and do it now. Any other answer could prove wrong.

Our bags are on their 26th year and look fairly decent (I checked recently during a tire removal event). They do not leak.

FWIW my CC manual says that the rig can be driven to a repair point if the other bag(s) on the axle are reduced to the same volume of air as the failed bag. My rig only has the 4 bags.

I understand there is a rubber bumper inside the bag setup that keeps the frame off the axle when the bag is deflated.

I suspect the ride will be different and one should probably consider the driveshaft angle on the drive axle.

A blowout of a bag might incur collateral damage.
I had a front airbag deflate after a tow out, the air leveling arm flipped up...

Didnít realize I was on one bag until I hit a bump...

To me, seems preferable to ride on one bag, rather than none, on an axle...
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Old 06-13-2021, 08:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bpu699 View Post

To me, seems preferable to ride on one bag, rather than none, on an axle...

A good way to torque a chassis and quite likely pop a windshield!
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Old 06-15-2021, 11:13 AM   #7
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My rear airbags lasted 21 years. In the end...when they were fully deflated I could hear air leak out of them as the coach air tanks filled in preparation for driving. Eventually they would fill to the point where they would self seal and function while driving.
I suggest you inspect them while the airbags are fully deflated. Get a mirror and flashlight and check around the entire airbag for cracks and wear. It was obvious in my case that the bags needed replacement. I got my airbags (OEM Firestones for ~$300 including shipping).

I changed my own airbags. I bought some 12,000 lb (each) jack stands, drove the rear tires up on some double high 4x12 boards, then raised the coach using the air and put the jack stands to their tallest setting and lowered to coach until they rested on them, then let out the remaining air so the bags were empty. Replacement is straight forward...on my coach remove the top air feedline and nut, and two secure nuts on the bottom of the airbags. Collapse the airbags and pull them out and install the new ones using the same technique. One does have to manhandle the bags to get them to conform. I used pry levers to collapse them but was able to use just my hands to expand them. Reconnect the air and secure the airbags and fill the system to raise it above the jack stands and spray the connections with soapy water.

I don't have a tag axle so I'm not sure what is involved in that project. The front airbags on my coach still look good and no plans to change them soon.

Not a hard project...it's all about safety.


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Old 06-15-2021, 12:32 PM   #8
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I was told air bags last longer because they're not exposed to the UV light and heat that affect tires. Personally, I'd replace your bags at this point, when you can choose the time and place. There have been several owners that have reported here that their old bags had just blown up suddenly (I think Smitty77 had that happen on his CC just last year). I figured mine were old enough and proactively had mine replaced a few months ago; they had some cracking that wasn't easily visible when they were still on the coach. I'm glad I got them done.
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Old 06-15-2021, 12:36 PM   #9
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I replaced ours at the 15 year mark. We were starting to travel cross country and I did not want to deal with it on the road.

The old air bags did not look too bad but did have some cracks showing up.
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Old 06-15-2021, 01:49 PM   #10
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Our 22 yr old frightliner the fire stone air bags had deep cracks. Some were over 1/8 inch deep.

In doing searches it seemed most motor home air bags are not commonly stocked and are more expensive then truck air bags. There were a few locations across the US that stocked our air Springs. We found frightliner zansville, oh had the best prices of all the sources we could find. Their delivery person delivered for free 18 miles from their shop to my house.

We figured it was not a question of if they were going to fail, but when and where they would fail. Then it would be how long we would need to wait for delivery when they failed. I would rather replace them on my calendar.

We bought all 4 it was close to $900 with tax for parts. The rear bags did not look bad for DYI replacment. The front looked like a bear dropping the front axle off the springs. I figured I would have 4 to 6 hrs on the front and 2 to 4 hours on the rear.

A truck spring and axle shop 10 miles from my house replaced them for $400. It took 2 mechanics 3 hour to do it. Up front they said they would charge me 4 hours for all 4 air springs.
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Old 06-15-2021, 03:29 PM   #11
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"most motor home air bags are not commonly stocked" is a correct statement. If you do have a issue and have to purchase one along the road, make sure the replacement bags have metal bottoms.

I had mine replaced while home as I travel long distances, didn't see that the PO had replaced them, and didn't want to have a issue while on the road. As my luck would have it, they placed new bags with composite bottoms on the rear. (I still don't believe they were the correct ones) One just blew while setting in my driveway. The composite bottom broke over the metal it was setting on.
(I have previous post on this)
I was lucky and they came to my home and replaced the two rear with bags that have metal bottoms. The correct ones. I can not see any way this coach could have been driven (even a mile) with the blown air spring. If you only have 4 air springs, a blown spring is a show stopper.
PS, my original bags looked fine but once removed, they were deeply cracked.

My opinion, replaced them at your convenience, don't be setting on side of the road.





Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtJoyce View Post
Our 22 yr old frightliner the fire stone air bags had deep cracks. Some were over 1/8 inch deep.

In doing searches it seemed most motor home air bags are not commonly stocked and are more expensive then truck air bags. There were a few locations across the US that stocked our air Springs. We found frightliner zansville, oh had the best prices of all the sources we could find. Their delivery person delivered for free 18 miles from their shop to my house.

We figured it was not a question of if they were going to fail, but when and where they would fail. Then it would be how long we would need to wait for delivery when they failed. I would rather replace them on my calendar.

We bought all 4 it was close to $900 with tax for parts. The rear bags did not look bad for DYI replacment. The front looked like a bear dropping the front axle off the springs. I figured I would have 4 to 6 hrs on the front and 2 to 4 hours on the rear.

A truck spring and axle shop 10 miles from my house replaced them for $400. It took 2 mechanics 3 hour to do it. Up front they said they would charge me 4 hours for all 4 air springs.
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Old 06-15-2021, 11:47 PM   #12
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About 5 years ago I had a front bag blow on my 02 Magna Resort as I was getting ready to take off on a long trip. You don't want this to happen, it took a week or more and the mobile mechanic to get both front bags replaced. The spring I was at Eric Olstrom's for something else and they inspected everything and told me my rear bags (I have 6 with the tag) were really badly cracked and some could fail at any time, though they could not find an actual leak. I had them all replaced a few months ago. Some were very deeply and badly cracked, so I was living on borrowed time. One thing I can relate is that even though they couldn't find any leaks, when I was camped with the rear way up the leveling system would relevel a number of times a day. Since the new bags were installed it doesn't do that anymore. I think there are very small leaks that are difficult to detect with the bags installed.
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Old 06-16-2021, 04:26 AM   #13
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Dave, do you still have the work order paperwork? Since we have the exact same models, I would think our airbags would be the same. I'm going to try and find someone near me that is willing to change them. Thanks!
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Old 06-16-2021, 04:35 AM   #14
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How to know if you need new air bags

The airbags Iíve seen are double layer rubber. But Iíd still get rid of any cracking bag. Evidently itís not that hard to change if you can get it up on a rack. For access . Expensive to have done but at 15 up years Iíd consider it preventive maint
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