Frequently Asked Questions

Select any question below to view the answer.

FAQs

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Is air suspension reliable?
When properly installed, air suspension can provide many years of trouble free service. Today’s technology and materials have allowed even OEM manufactures to offer their cars with air suspension options, while the trucking industry rides millions of miles every year almost exclusively on air. We use similar products and technology to build our suspension kits. In addition, Air Lift torture tests all of its major components in-house on industry exclusive test equipment to ensure every aspect of reliability. And before a new kit hits the streets, we take it to the track and show it no mercy, allowing us to pinpoint any weaknesses. This comprehensive approach along with our unlimited 1 year warranty means you are getting the best made air suspension kits in the industry!
Can air suspension be used in the winter?
Most certainly yes! While winter does provide some unique challenges to driving, some simple maintenance on your air system can make cold climate motoring a non-event. One thing about being based in Lansing, MI, we see PLENTY of cold, snowy weather! As a matter of fact, there are a few of us that take advantage of the weather to indulge in some …ahem… sideways driving and even ice racing with our bagged cars.
What kind of maintenance is recommended for air suspension?
Overall, the only maintenance is to regularly drain the air tank to reduce the amount of water circulating through the system. We offer in-line water traps that can aide in this activity, while also significantly reducing the amount of water that gets in the system in the first place. In any case, draining the system once a month is a good rule of thumb and only takes a minute. For those of us in the northern climates, keeping your system dry is key to trouble-free running in the winter.
Where can I get air suspension installed?
Any competent shop that performs mechanical work will have the necessary tools to complete the job.
How much does installation of air ride cost?
Like many things in life…it depends. The biggest factor is the labor rate of your shop. And how custom you want the control system components mounted. A basic installation of most kits will take a competent shop 8-10 hours. For the most part, the suspension components mount just like their OEM counterparts. It is the compressor/tank/manifold/wiring/air line configuration that can alter the time required to install. Do you want a one-of-a-kind trunk kit with polished wood flooring etc? Well, the sky is the limit, or, maybe your wallet…
What is the difference between Slam Series and Performance Series?
Quite a lot! Learn all the differences here.
Can I install air suspension myself?
Our kits are designed for DIY people to easily and correctly install all the components if they follow our comprehensive instruction manuals. Anyone that can wire a stereo and swap suspension components has the required skills to complete a basic installation in their driveway over a weekend. However, some kits require frame modifications or welding where metal fabrication is necessary. This is NOT an area where a first-timer should learn those skills!
What is difference between analog, manual and digital air management?
Analog refers to the “old school” systems that use a switch box in the cabin that sends high current DC signal to electrically operated solenoid valves that control air entering and exiting the air springs. The amount of air pressure is controlled by the amount of time the user activates the switch. This technology was/is often found on mini trucks and hot rods because the large valves allow a large volume of air to move quickly.

Manual refers to a system that incorporates four cockpit mounted “paddle valves” that mechanically switch air flow from the tank in-to or out-of the air springs. This cost-effective system has very simple electrical connections, and is the most lightweight of the three types. It also includes two dual-needle air pressure gauges to monitor and set pressures. If simplicity and low cost is high on your list of requirements, this is your system.

Digital management brings to the game a whole level of sophistication and features. As the name suggests, there is an ECU that uses digital intelligence in the form of an algorithm to quickly and accurately move your suspension to the desired setting with no driver involvement besides pressing a button. Our Autopilot V2 system includes a compact manifold unit that contains the ECU, all the valves, and pressure sensors that monitor and activate the suspension, along with an OEM level wiring harness that only requires 3 wires to be connected to the vehicle. The interface for this hardware is a cockpit mounted controller that provides 8 unique user programmable presets. For the most convenience and flexibility, this is the system to have.

What is the difference between air line sizes?
In the automotive aftermarket, there are 3 common size air lines: 1/4”, 3/8”, 1/2”. The most commonly used size tends to be 1/4” because it is the easiest to rout through the vehicle. Some people like the car to move from one position to the next faster than 1/4” can do (based on the flow rate and air spring volume/pressure requirements) so they tend to choose 3/8”. The crowd that likes 1/2” will choose that size because they want the body to spring up very quickly when a valve is activated. Installing ½” lines can be the equivalent of wrestling an anaconda…
What is a digital/manual combo kit?
A combo kit is one part number that includes the control system of your choice: digital or manual, the front and rear suspension kits and all components necessary for a basic installation.
Do I need to buy an air management system?
Technically…no. BUT, do you want to find a compressor to raise all four corners of your car every time you need to raise it up or press the Schrader valves to air out and show off your ride?? No, we didn’t think so….
What is a water trap and should I buy one?
A water trap, as the name suggests, is a device that traps water and keeps it from circulating around the air system. Where does the water come from you ask? If you remember your science class in school, air contains a lot of evaporated water, especially on humid days. This water gets squeezed out of the air when it gets compressed into the tank by the compressor. Adding a water trap helps keep this water from entering the manifold where, in winter, it can potentially cause freezing. And if you have a steel air tank, then you can reduce the tendency of the tank to rust on the inside by keeping the water out. Bottom line: a water trap is a good investment for keeping your system dry and functioning in all seasons.

Terminology

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Air bag / air spring
An air spring is a rubber and fabric bladder that holds air pressure to support a load and isolate passengers from the shock of motion caused by road irregularities. Air bags replace the coil springs, not supplement them as is often thought.
Aired out
The look that everyone loves…zero air pressure in the springs and maximum drop.
Bellows air spring
A type of air spring where the flexible member shape is a bellow (air chamber with flexible sides). These springs may have a number of bellows stacked on top of each other. For example, a double bellows spring as used in most Performance kits looks like two doughnuts stacked on top of one another. The more bellows, the longer the available stroke is of the spring. The greater the diameter of the bellows, the more load it can handle.
Camber
The angle of the front or rear wheels relative to the ground when viewed from the front of the vehicle. This angle refers to the inward lean of the tire. Zero camber would be perpendicular to the ground.
Camber plate
A style of upper mount for a strut suspension that provides for precise adjustment of camber angle of the wheels.
Check valve
This is a one-way flow, mechanical valve attached to the output of the compressor that keeps the air stored in the tank from working its way back through the compressor causing a leak. They are typically connected to the compressor leader line.
Compression damping
Force created by the damper to control the rate of upward movement of the suspension/downward movement of the body.
Damping
Refers to the forces created by the shocks/struts that control the oscillations of the body and suspension. Without proper damping, the vehicle would bounce uncontrollably down the road, or, if excessive, would make the ride stiff and uncomfortable. On the handling side, damping controls the rate of weight transfer across the chassis during transient maneuvers as well as tire loading, and thus, road holding.
Double adjustable
A shock or strut that has independent rebound and compression adjustment provisions.
ECU
Electronic Control Unit. Most often an ECU has some kind of intelligence and decision making power in a system.
Handling balance
A description of vehicle behavior during limit handling (cornering) situations. A car with balance described as Understeer will have a tendency for the front to lose grip before the rear end and push towards the outside of the corner. Oversteer balance is the opposite of understeer. The rear of the vehicle will lose grip first which creates a potential spin situation if the driver does not properly react. A Neutral balance is the equivalent of handling nirvana and means both ends of the car stay connected with each other allowing the driver to make the least corrections and produce the fastest cornering speed.
Leader line (hose)
The leader hose provides a flexible and durable connection from the air spring to the chassis mounted air lines. Ours are high strength rubber with a stainless steel outer layer for abrasion protection and long life.
Manifold
In its simplest definition, a device that distributes air from a storage source to individual air springs. In the case of our V2 manifold, it also includes integrated valves, fittings, pressure sensors and ECU.
Monotube Shock/strut
This type of damper gets its name from the single wall pressure tube where the piston and the oil do their thing to create damping force. Since the exterior wall of the damper body is in direct contact with the internal oil, these dampers stay cooler and more effective when pushed hard on track or rough road. Another feature to this design is lighter component weight when compared to other styles, thus reducing the unsprung mass of the suspension. These two benefits are why monotubes can be found on the vast majority of racecars as well as all of our Performance Series kits.
NPT
Another acronym that stands for National Pipe Thread. This is a universal thread standard for plumbing fittings and is the most common style found on aftermarket air systems.
PTC
This is an acronym for Push To Connect. Our air systems use this style of fitting to make installation and maintenance as easy and trouble free as possible. Simply inserting the plastic air line into the fitting and pulling on it to ensure a proper grip is all that is required to make a connection. Disconnecting a line is as easy as pushing on the plastic release ring and pulling the line out of the fitting. Even a caveman could do it.
Rebound damping
Force created by the damper to control the rate of recoil of the spring/body/suspension as it extends to a greater length.
Ride height
The height of the chassis relative to the ground when driving.
Roll plate
A round metal device positioned between the bottom or top of a bellows style air spring and it’s mounting surface in order to stabilize the air spring.
Shock dyno
A device used to measure and record the damping forces created by a shock/strut. Used in the development of dampers to determine a valving that will provide optimum performance. Yes, we have one. Yes, its cool.
Sleeve style air spring
An air spring that has the flexible member in the shape of a cylinder. It typically uses a shaped piston on one end that creates a variable spring rate as the piston enters the sleeve. The larger the diameter of the sleeve, the greater load it can carry.
Solenoid valve
In the our world, a solenoid valve is a simple 12volt DC actuated mechanical valve that opens and closes with a remote switch to allow air in-to or out-of an air spring. You want ‘em, we got ‘em!
Spherical (ball) bearing
A bearing used in our camber plates and top mounts that permits easy rotation and articulation of the damper shaft while eliminating any vertical deflection. This bearing increases the effectiveness of the dampers and is used in high performance applications.
Spring rate
The force required to deflect a spring a certain distance. Can be thought of as the stiffness of a spring. A higher spring rate requires more force to compress than a lower spring rate. The most common spring rate designations are lb/in or in metric, N/mm. The spring rate of an air spring is controlled by the design of the spring and the air pressure held in the spring. All things being equal, an air spring holding a higher air pressure would have a higher spring rate than the same air spring holding a lower pressure.
Stroke
If we stick to suspension terminology instead of human anatomy, stroke refers to the total amount of travel your suspension has from full up to full down. This can be discussed in terms of the wheel travel or stroke of the dampers.
Tapered sleeve air spring
Same as Sleeve style except the flexible member has a larger diameter at the top than the bottom, thus creating a taper.
Twin-tube Shock/strut
As the name suggests, this damper style uses two tubes, one inside of the other. The working oil flows in and out of the inner pressure tube as the damper strokes through a “foot valve” on the bottom of the tube and an orifice at the top. Often times the nitrogen gas charge is emulsified (fancy word for “mixed up with”) the oil or contained in a plastic bag that is inserted into the damper when assembled. Advantages to this design include shorter overall damper lengths and reduced impact harshness as compared to monotubes, as well as reduced cost. The SLAM Series kits use twin tube construction.

3H/3P

We want you to have the best #lifeonair, so we put together a few questions and scenarios that you may have with our latest 3H and 3P air management systems. And if you can’t find the answer here, we have a dedicated customer service team in-house to help you every step of the way: Customer Service

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I’m using height mode but, when I’m obtaining a preset, the corner pressure values don’t always return to the same value.
This is common, as bag pressure is dependent on both the internal and external temperatures. Height mode is more accurate and, although the preset pressures may be different, you can rest assured that the preset is still obtaining the correct height for your vehicle.
When obtaining a preset, one or more corners do not seem to target the correct height or pressure value.
This is happening because 3H has a unique featured called “Anti-Cross Load.” By default, this is turned on and will prevent a height setting that result in severe axle cross-loading.
I occasionally receive a height/pressure sensor limit fault.
3H/3P include height sensor fault detection, a safety feature that will alert the user if a height sensor is going out of useable range. A limit fault indicates that the sensor needs to be adjusted back into range, or that the sensor has moved from its original mounting location. The electronic sensor tool that is built into the display can be used to adjust the sensor(s) if you are getting this message. Follow these simple steps to verify the range with the electronic sensor tool:

  1. Start with the vehicle at its lowest height. The sensor tool should display “Range Low” below each corner.
  2. Manually air up the front corners of the vehicle to their maximum height. Both front corners should then display “OK.”
  3. Manually air up the rear corners to their maximum height. Both rear corners should then display “OK.”

It may be necessary to repeat these steps by raising the rear first, to see if results vary. For any corners that do not display “OK,” the sensors will need to be adjusted in order to be within the acceptable limits, or increase the overall range (stroke).

Can I run two compressors off the main harness and relay?
You can only run 1 compressor with the main harness and relay that come with the system. However, you can easily add a second compressor with the 3H/3P second compressor harness (P/N 27703).
I am unable to download the Air Lift Performance 3 app on my Android. Every time I try to download it, I receive the message “App is not compatible with this device.”
The Android app is compatible with nearly 3,000 devices, but some devices are not supported based on mobile device limitations. Most likely, your mobile device does not have Bluetooth 4.0 or Bluetooth Low Energy support.
My Air Lift Performance 3 app is experiencing connectivity issues.
Some mobile devices are unable to successfully handle multiple Bluetooth connections. Being paired to multiple devices (e.g. the Head Unit app) may cause connectivity issues with the 3H/3P manifold. Disconnecting from these extra devices will resolve the issue.
All of a sudden, I cannot discover the manifold on my iOS or Android app.
The manifold can occasionally stop broadcasting the Bluetooth address. To resolve this issue, you can disconnect the manifold connector and then reconnect it, or reboot (power cycle) the manifold. With the ignition off, pull the main fuse, and then reinsert it.
If you have an Android device and are having trouble connecting to the manifold, it has been confirmed that the FitBit app will limit Bluetooth communication between the mobile device and 3H/3P manifold. Uninstalling the FitBit App will resolve the issue. Visit the FitBit site for more details.
My display seems to randomly shut off and reboot itself.
The display is powered by the manifold, so if the battery or ignition input is lost, the display will turn off. A loose battery or ignition connection that does not maintain a constant connection will reboot the display.
My display shuts off and keeps rebooting, never making it to the main screen.
This happens when there is insufficient 5V supply to the display. Most commonly, this issue arises when using a USB extension cable longer than 8 feet. Use a shorter USB extension cable or find a cable that is USB 3.0 rated (which uses larger wires gauge).
I have heard there is a way to update the software of the manifold and display. How can I do that?
The software can be updated over-the-air using the iOS or Android apps, which are available free on the Apple App Store or on Google Play. Simply open the app, go into the “Settings” menu, click “About,” then “Check for Firmware Update.”
After updating the software, the display says “ECU Not Found”. Is my manifold dead?
If “ECU Not Found” is displayed, then the manifold update has failed. In the event that a software update fails in the middle of this process, the manifold and display may appear dead. However, they can easily be recovered by attempting the software update process again. Even in this seemingly “dead” state, the manifold will allow the app to connect and the software update process can be performed again.
After updating the software, the display is blank. Is my display dead?
If the display does not appear to power on after an update, then the display update failed. In the event that a software update fails in the middle of the process, the manifold and display may appear dead. However, they can easily be recovered by trying the software update process again. Connect to the manifold using the App and perform the software update process again.