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Old 05-24-2015, 06:00 PM   #1
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Airbag Questions

I'm in the process of buying a 2000 e150 conversion van with the intent to put a ccv pop top on it and do a minimal interior build. Going to keep it 2wd, but could see adding a lift and locking diff. (But not anytime soon.)

It has rear airbags. I know very little about these, other than what I've read here on the forum over the last couple of months.
One bag has a slow leak. His mechanic estimated plus or minus $500 to repair.
He says he thinks it's been leaking for a while, and he just airs it up before a trip.
He also said he thinks it's only important if towing, but on the other hand, he said it rode pretty rough when it's too low.

So I'm wondering if, on a 2wd, is it only important when towing?
Are the airbags taking the place of leaf springs, or would it have both?
Does $500 sound reasonable to repair/replace a leaky bag?
Could I potentially ditch the airbags? What would that entail?

Thanks for any and all advice or knowledge.
Oh, and the van is in Golden, CO, and I'm on the western slope, if that makes any difference.

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Old 05-24-2015, 08:04 PM   #2
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Re: Airbag Questions

Just remove them!

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Old 05-24-2015, 08:25 PM   #3
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Re: Airbag Questions

Originally Posted by BajaSportsmobile
Just remove them!

No consequences?

Could I just leave them and keep them soft? Air them up if I need to tow a load?
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Old 05-24-2015, 08:33 PM   #4
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Re: Airbag Questions

Depending on the brand, they are supposed to have a minimum of 10-15 psi in them I believe (that's what my Firestone's take).

$500 is silly to repair them. Way cheaper to buy a new set and they aren't that hard to install if you have a modicum of mechanical ability.

They aren't really necessary unless you are towing or have a heavy load inside the van. I put mine on to mitigate a bit of a saggy rear end, but probably would have been better served by adding an additional leaf to the rear springs. If your van's rear isn't where it should be, take the $500 and get the springs fixed IMO.

Sometimes the leak can be as simple as an air hose that worked its way loose. You could air them up to maximum PSI and see if you can locate where the leak is, either by ear or by using soapy water at the fittings. If it's a slow leak I doubt the bag itself is ripped. Mine had a very slow leak where the air fill hose inserted into the top of the bag. I took it off, made a nice sharp new cut in it and reinstalled it and it was fine.
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Old 05-24-2015, 10:00 PM   #5
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Re: Airbag Questions

Minimum pressure is to keep them from folding and getting damaged.

The real question is, where is the leak? If it's not a pinhole in the bag itself (doubtful) then it should be super easy to repair. Basically mix up some dish soap and water, put it in a spray bottle and then with the bags inflated go around and spray the heck out of the system from valve to bag, starting with all the fittings (if you don't find anything you can do the tube proper then the bag itself). When you see bubbles (probably at a junction, like the fill valve-to-tube) you've found your problem. Depending on where it is will dictate how you fix, or likely tighten the whatever-is-leaking.

$500 is install an entire new system ridiculous. They are just bolt on easy to install, and with them already installed doing something like replacing the entire bag should be like a half-hour, and that's worst case scenario.

If you're not going to run them, I'd unbolt and sell them here for a few bucks. It's likely the system is fine, but it won't hurt to get rid of them if you really don't need them for extra weight (towing, having a heavy-ass SMB build).
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Old 05-24-2015, 11:50 PM   #6
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Re: Airbag Questions

They are good for compensating for the occasional heavy load. If your springs need help all the time, it's better to rebuild them with more leafs.

No consequence to removing them, as long as you replace the bump stop if the currently mount where the bump stops should be.
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Old 05-25-2015, 09:16 PM   #7
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Re: Airbag Questions

Thanks for the advice. Didn't want to get into an expensive/essential repair if I could avoid it.
Sounds like it's neither.
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Old 05-25-2015, 09:31 PM   #8
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Re: Airbag Questions

If Air Lift - bags have lifetime warranty. You need to pay for new bag first, if original style van airbag without internal bump stop Part No. 50284 it was $50 for bag $10 shipping 2yrs ago. Send the old one back in box new one came in, they check bag, if it's bad they refund $50. They also sent new fitting. But as others said need to check all fittings. I swapped my hoses from one side to other & same side leaked so I know it was the bag.

I think I have a leaking fitting now, I called about 6 months ago & was still same price.

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