Installing airbags on your ride is one of the best things you can do. They're fun, versatile, cool, ride great and the list goes on. But look, we're obviously fans, and we know air suspensions are not perfect. So what do you do when something goes wrong and what are those things, anyway? Let's dive in and figure it out.
Before anything breaks, prepare.
Many of the tips we're about to lay out involve you having some basic knowledge about your vehicle and how to turn a wrench. If you're not that kind of person, no big deal, just make sure you have a AAA membership or something similar.
For the rest of you, there are a few basics you should carry with you.
- A jack
- Jack stands
- Socket set
- Wrench set
- Spare air line
- Spare fittings
- Spare airbag(s)
- Schrader valve
- Zip ties
- Loctite 545
- Tire iron
Now you don't have to go nuts here. The tools you get can be cheap ones that you get in one of those plastic boxes, because it's not like you'll be using them all the time. But take all of this stuff and put it in an egg crate or two, then stuff it in your trunk or bed. It's nice to have around, particularly if you ever need it.
You broke a line.
Your air line delivers air from the valves to your bags, and sometimes even the tank to the valves. Most of the time those lines are made from flexible tubing, and even though it's easy to install, there is the possibility that something happens and they break. And that sucks.
If you're daily driving your rig, or even if you're cruising it out to a big show, bring some spare air line and a few union tube connector fittings, some air line and an air line cutter tool. Should an air line break, get your car or truck on some kind of stands to keep it steady. Then cut out the affected area and loop in new air line using the union tube connectors. Throw a few zip ties on the line, even if it's temporary, just so you can make it home. This will fix the problem until you have a more permanent solution.
You blew a bag.
Airbags don't rupture often, and when they do it's typically because of a bad install. Of course, none of that helps you when you're stranded somewhere on I-10 with no way to lift your truck.
Loosen the lugs on the wheel for the corner that's got the blown bag. Jack up your vehicle and secure it on stands. Get the bag out using your tools and replace it, making sure to use Loctite on the fittings. Reassemble in the reverse order of disassembly.
For everything else: Keep spares.
Look, you obviously can't have an entire second setup on hand for emergencies, but if there are consumables or replacement parts you can carry with you, do so. Say a valve goes out on you. If you have a spare individual valve, then replace it. But if it's on a manifold, maybe get a schrader valve and lift it manually until you can get home. A portable air compressor is also a good idea for those scenarios.
You can't plan for everything, but if you follow some of our tips, you'll be prepared for most things. And, as always, should you have questions, don't hesitate to reach out.