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Old 08-23-2014, 05:55 PM   #1
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Should I Keep My Air Suspension?

I've looked through the threads on helper air suspension systems but am still not sure what to do. Just bought an E250 2WD which has all-around air bags and an incredibly harsh ride over any bumps as well as some "hobby-horsing" on some freeway surfaces. I don't know why the air bags were originally installed by the original owner (I'm the 3rd owner).

I suppose I could first try to lower pressure in the bags to see what happens, but I haven't found the valves for the system yet. Is there any convention for where they are placed?

With 100K on the van and unknown milage on the shocks, would fussing with the shocks have any affect on what the air bags do?

I'm planning on primarily paved road driving - graded gravel roads might tempt me a bit, but nothing too rough.

Thanks for any advice.
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Old 08-23-2014, 06:40 PM   #2
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Re: Should I Keep My Air Suspension?

Generally air valves are placed along the bottom edge of the bumpers.

Have you checked tire pressure? They may be over inflated.

What style airbags are they? Most styles do worsen the ride, but some don't hurt.
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Old 08-24-2014, 07:22 PM   #3
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Re: Should I Keep My Air Suspension?

The air bags are Air Lift 1000 in front, Heavy Duty in rear.I found the valves (rear under the bumper, front in grill) and there was from 0 to 10 lbs in each air bag. Manufacturers recommendation is 5-10 minimum and up to 100, depending on load. As a starting point, I put in 50 psi in each and will adjust from there.

Also checked my tire pressure in the fairly new BFGoodrich 225/75r16 Commuter tires. It was 80 psi all the way around. I tried to look up recommended pressures on line and found nothing, the placard on the SMB is completely blank and a search of the forum turned up way more information than I could digest this afternoon. I'm going to air down a bit (more in front than rear) and see what happens.

I realize I'm changing more than one variable (air bags pressure and tire pressure) at a time, but I've got to start somewhere before my fillings shake loose.
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Old 08-24-2014, 07:34 PM   #4
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Re: Should I Keep My Air Suspension?

There are many posts about tire pressure. Search for Tire Pressure and spend some quality time reading some of the posts.

Stock, Ford recommended 60 Front and 80 Rear for my van. I'm currently running different sized tires with 4wd and am using 65 psi all around.

First thing you will need is the weight of your axles (if not individual tires) to determine proper tire pressure.

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Old 08-24-2014, 07:38 PM   #5
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Re: Should I Keep My Air Suspension?

fwiw: Re Tire Pressure:
We found running 80 all around was not good for ride or feel. Dropped the fronts to 65 psi made a world of difference in steering feel and handling. We are 4wd running 265's, so ymmv. No ABags, so no idea there.
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Old 08-24-2014, 08:36 PM   #6
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Re: Should I Keep My Air Suspension?

I run 40 in my rear airbags, and with a trailer I up it to about 50. Any more would be pretty harsh I bet given that the difference for me from 40-50 is very noticeable.

On tires, on 3 different vans I've had, I run about 55 in front and 70 in rear. 1der is spot on that lowering your front tire pressure will make the van handle lots better. My last van and my current one both ride great with 55/70 on E-rated tires.
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Old 08-24-2014, 09:27 PM   #7
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Re: Should I Keep My Air Suspension?

Thanks, this has been really helpful. I'm heading out tomorrow AM on a 2-3 day road trip and will experiment more with both the airbag and tire pressures. First things first, though - before getting too far down the road I'm picking up a good digital pressure gauge.
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Old 08-24-2014, 10:59 PM   #8
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Re: Should I Keep My Air Suspension?

I have airlift 1000's in my front coils. They sit empty most of the time. I only air them up when I have a heavy load on the roof or the front hitch.

I only keep the min pressure in my rear airbags (10psi) empty.

If the airbags are being used to support sagging springs, that will hurt the ride. If they are only used to support heavy loads, they should not affect the ride when empty. However, if the rears mount between the axle and frame (as opposed to outboard the frame) they will worsen the ride because they restrict travel so much. IF the rears are also AirLift, they only make one style for the vans. That airbag has less than 4" of total travel. I had them, and took them off. I'm now running Firestone SportRite tapered airbags in the rear, which have about 11 inches of total travel.
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Old 08-25-2014, 07:56 AM   #9
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Re: Should I Keep My Air Suspension?

I have Firestones front and rear in my E250, and when they are at minimum pressure they pretty much "disappear" as far as I can tell. I put them in on a whim and honestly don't use them much. Sometimes I'll use them to level the van at a campsite when I'm too lazy to dig out the leveling blocks. It actually works fairly well, and only takes a few minutes with my cheap Harbor Freight 12v air compressor.
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Old 08-25-2014, 02:00 PM   #10
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Re: Should I Keep My Air Suspension?

I would only put the minimum in the airbags if you don't have a heavy load. With air in the bags, it will only decrease spring compression and make your ride much harsher. If your van is bouncing off the bumpstops with the bags at the minimum psi, then adding some air would be beneficial.
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