If you’ve got airbags or any kind of air system on your vehicle, chances are pretty good that you’ve got a tank. It’s what holds the air, after all, and it sits as a reserve for your system. But it also builds up condensation, and that creates water, which is a killer for your system. How do you make sure that your system stays water free?
Turns out it’s not that difficult if you do some preparation. Let’s walk you through it.
The problem: Water will mess up your system.
Let’s dive into the problem a little first. When you’ve got water in your air tank, that liquid will make its way into everything else — valves, airbags, whatever. And that water will cause rust or stickiness.
Take your valves, for example. If water gets into the valves, it can cause corrosion, making them stick either open or closed. That shortens their lifespan, and that’s a particularly big problem if you’ve got a fancy manifold connected to one end.
So drain your tanks, people. It’s not that hard. Let’s prove it.
The easiest way: Install a drain valve.
The simplest and most straightforward way to get the air out of your tank is to do a little bit of preventative maintenance. Some air tanks include a port on the bottom that’s designed to hold a drain valve. These things are super simple. Just open it up once a month or so to drain out your tank. Then close it back up, and repeat the process regularly. You can do it whenever you like — once a month or once a week — it’s all up to you.
But what if you have multiple tanks? Get multiple drain valves. Or if you want, connect the two (or three) with lines and put the drain valve in the middle. Either way, you want the drain valve to be at the lowest point of the setup because of gravity.
The more complicated (but convenient) way: Install an electric valve
Yes, it’s more complicated, and it’s certainly more expensive. But if you install a valve at the bottom of your tank, then put a switch up front, you’ll never have a problem draining your tank again.
See, the thing is, we’re all lazy. And if draining your tank requires getting out of your truck, laying underneath it, or even putting jack stands under the frame, you’re just never going to do it. Instead, installing an electric valve where a drain valve would be makes it easy enough to do whenever you want. Do it when you get home at night, or during your lunch break when you’ve got time to let the compressors fill it back up. Either way, it’s a lot more convenient than crawling under your truck.
No matter which path you choose, do it.
Honestly, the cheapest and most common way to drain your tanks is just to buy a drain valve or two and schedule the maintenance once a month. We know, you might get lazy and skip a time or two — we get it, we’ve done the same thing. But if you want your air system to be reliable in the long run, it’s pretty critical that you keep those tanks free of air. If not, well, you’re going to be buying new parts sooner rather than later.