We sell a lot of airbag kits around these parts, and we get it — stuff’s not cheap. Well, it doesn’t seem that way at first. Because the thing is, you can build an airbag setup for a perfectly reasonable price, you just have to make a few adjustments in your expectations.
Want to know how? Let’s find out.
Start with the basics.
You need just a few things to get your air setup going, and if you’re in the garage phase, you only need just a bit: Four airbags, some air line, a few Ts and a pair of Schraeder valves. That’s it.
Why so little? Because it’s in your garage, and it ain’t going anywhere. By t-ing off your front and rear bags, you give yourself the ability to lift the chassis up and shift things around your space. It’s an easy way to go, and, bonus: It’s super cheap. Plus, now you can figure out exactly how your suspension cycles and what kind of wheels you can fit. Nice.
Level up when possible.
Next up: At least one tank, compressor and pressure switch. If you’re doing this incrementally, then don’t worry yet about valves and all that. Just get at least one tank and one compressor, then spend some time making sure they’re mounted up the way you want them to sit. If you’re planning on getting a second compressor, then mock up a mounting point for the second using the first, and you’ll be prepared when you do get the cash.
So why buy this stuff now if it’s not going to help out? Well most people at this point are still mocking things up, and having the tank and compressor are necessary when you go to the next stage. This way the stuff is in your hands, and when you do progress forward, you’re prepared.
Choose your valves.
If you want to save money, then stick to valves that are inexpensive and simple. You’ll probably want a manual model, as they’re cheap and easy to install, you’ll just need some extra line to get the air from A to B. Manual valves are the simplest and cheapest way to get your system moving, and once they’re installed, it’s easy enough to plumb them to your compressor and tank.
Now you may have your heart set on an Accuair kit, and if that’s your goal, that’s great — but you’re going to put it on hold for now just to get things rolling. After a few months of cruising your truck and saving up cash, you’ll be able to spring for the Accuair kit of your dreams. But for now, keep it simple.
Wire it yourself.
If you decide that you want to spend a little bit more on valves, or just want to skip the manual valve stage entirely, then you’ll need to wire them up yourself. Wiring up a switch panel is pretty easy, and you can do it affordably if you keep it simple. Start with some momentary switches and switch box wire, then mount them in your dash or console. If you want the panel to be mobile, then put it on a piece of metal with a few holes drilled inside. With these three-prong switches you’ll be able to lift or drop one corner at a time. But if you want to lift or drop pairs of airbags — front, back, side, etc. — then you want a six-prong switch. That’ll get the job done.
Never wired one up before? Well they’re pretty easy to do. The middle prong is for power, so you can jump it from one switch to the adjacent one using ring terminals and 18-gauge wire. Then flip the switch around so you’re looking at it from the side. Lift the switch to the up position. See how the actual toggle angles towards the bottom prongs on the switch? When you lift it up, you’re connecting the center and bottom prongs, providing power. So if you want to lift the front left corner, you want to connect one of the bottom prongs to the front left lift dump. And you’ll do the opposite to lower the corner. See? Easy.
Upgrade as necessary.
Now you just want to be smart. If you’ve already got a fully functioning airbag setup, then where you put your money next is important. It’s always nice to have reliable and multiple compressors, so upgrade that if that’s the way you want to go. If you’re looking at going to an automatic leveling kit like from Accuair, then start saving up. When you’ve got the cash, go for it.
It’s not hard — unless you hate being patient.
Ain’t that the truth? We all want to start right away with the good stuff, but sometimes our wallet won’t allow it to happen. Fortunately, you can get into airbags without a ton of cash right off the bat. And if you ever need help, feel free to ask. Our people have the answers to the questions you have, for sure.