Measuring Airline

Airline, hose, pipe or tube, its all the same thing – air suspension airline. It’s purpose is to transfer the air from where its generated to the bags, and then back to the atmosphere.

Whilst metal lines do exist these tend to be limited to hot lines where the air is compressed, struts which turn and for cosmetic reasons on show builds. In this case metal lines and braided lines are limited to just near the compressor, where it can be seen in the boot, or Air Lift still use braided lines on their front struts. Metal lines are not used as a matter of course for the entire air suspension build on a modified car, van or motorhome, and not for OEM air suspensions either, because they serve no purpose. Metal lines are more expensive to buy, more work to install, offer no benefits in terms of durability or reliability (they often actually seal less well due to lack of flexibility and a mixture of unsuitable materials).

Air suspension systems tend to use plastic lines. They are either Nylon or Polyurethane. At AirRide we prefer nylon and that’s all we use on our own systems. Polyurethane is a little softer and more prone to damage. Nylon is easily kinked during installation if you are not careful, but more durable for the rest of its life. Just in case you think nylon isn’t strong enough – the end caps on most modern bags are made of nylon, so the whole weight of your car or van can rest on this material!!

So what about sizes?

Well there are a number of sizes in use, but in general OEM systems tend to run 4mm, 5mm, and 6mm. Sometimes a combination using for example 4mm in places and 6mm in others. On OEM’s the size is usually not written on the line, but it can be sometimes, so its still worth looking if you need to replace a line.

For aftermarket systems, some of the smaller European suppliers do use metric (6mm and 8mm) but in general the world supply of aftermarket air suspension systems tends to use 1/4 and, 3/8 as the most common sizes with 1/8 and 1/2 can also be used in places. This is because the market for management, tanks, compressors, and controllers is dominated by the US where the industry started, and they use imperial measurements. Sizes larger than this would be very rare due to the dangers of injury due to the high speed of vehicle adjustment (danger to people and vehicle integrity). Most line will have the size written on it which makes life easier although some will not. All the line we use is rated for over 200psi, because that's what our common high spec systems are rated to.

Because of the fact that metric and imperial sizes can be close you are not going to be able to measure with a ruler, or guess by just looking, although a tip is to look at the push connector fittings, as many will have the size written (very small on the collar). Failing that you will need a vernier calliper, either digital or analogue to measure.

If in doubt and you need help identifying your requirements please call us on 0800 772 0315 or send an email to  ENQUIRIES@AIRRIDE.UK

Posted by Phil

Can you repair my airbag please?

Black Air Spring with a hole in it and red arrow highlighting
Boss Air Suspension bag has rubbed through in two places due to bad installation

We get requests of this nature on an almost daily basis. Airbags (more accurately called air springs) are incredibly robust and reliable devices, and usually last at least a decade if treated well. In fact, we had a call earlier this week from a customer who had one of our kits 24 years ago, and just got an advise on his MOT that his bags were showing signs of perishing – but it still passed! Needless to say he was happy it lasted so long.

Most busses, coaches and a good proportion of lorries/trucks have air suspension, so it has to be reliable. This is well tested technology which when correctly installed and correctly used will last 100,000 miles with no issues.

Several issues can cause premature failure:

  1. Abrasion – coming into contact with any metal part of the vehicle.
  2. Abrasion – coming into contact with foreign matter – road impact/damage.
  3. Deflation - Leaving the Vehicle with no air in it for extended periods of time.
  4. Overextension - Extending the bag beyond specs (after bump or if jacked when pressurised).
  5. Cracked End Cap – suspension designed to run too low on bag without internal bump stops (most bags) or using bolts that are too long in plastic End Caps.

We have seen customers who have experienced all of these issues, but touching metal is by far the most common. To be clear none of the listed issues are normal but also they are also very much not warranty claims!

Bags/Springs do wear out and fatigue, but this usually starts to manifest itself as tiny cracks which run up and down the bag, usually starting at corners. Its caused by the extension and then deflation of the bag over hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of cycles. They start as tiny cracks but grow as the bag is used. Initially these cracks are only in the outer layer (all our bags are multicore) but eventually they will start to leak.  They get progressively worse, and so should be dealt with when they become visible. If left the bag will not hold  air, and the compressor may try to make up for it and work beyond its duty cycle, also failing.

Bags are made of rubber and have similar construction to tyres, which can be repaired. Therefore you must be able to repair air bags, right?

To repair a bag you would need to get inside so the pressure was pushing the repair into the bag. If you repair from outside it would be pushing your repair off, which would likely last only a few seconds. Most bags have crimped ends which means you cannot get inside at all, as the crimping machines and crimps are not readily available. BUT the biggest issue is that bags extend a lot in height – far more than tyres, and up to 100% on some common bags. Tyre type repairs would not tolerate this type of motion.

Sorry to say, bags cannot be repaired. To be fair most of the calls we get refer to worn out OEM struts and bags, because OEM replacements can get pretty pricy, and customers are looking for a lower cost alternative than replacement. Much of the time the OEM bags cannot even be removed fro the strut. For aftermarket systems, the key is to deal with whatever caused the failure (usually touching something) and only then replace the bag.

Please call us on 0800 772 0315 or send an email to  ENQUIRIES@AIRRIDE.UK if you need help with your vehicle although please note our location in central Norwich.

Posted by Phil

Measuring Threads

Here at AirRide we use imperial fittings. Why is that? Surely they are out of date and metric is the way to go?

Well there may be some truth to that but all of our management systems come from the US where imperial fittings are very common. Therefore they tend to be the standard for aftermarket suspension systems because if your manifold, MPC controller, solenoid, tank or bag is imperial it makes no sense to switch over and use a mixture of imperial and metric.

One of the oldest bag manufacturers is Firestone and they are predominantly imperial. A large number of bags or air springs are made to the PCD and dimensions of the original Firestone bags so as a result most bags are also imperial. The actual thread used in known as NPT but this in itself can be confusing.

American National Standard Pipe Thread are standards used to define the thread pitch, shape, diameter and angle of the taper where necessary but are often called just National Pipe Thread for short. They include both tapered and straight thread series, but in the air suspension industry we tend to use the tapered thread version which is known as NPT – (National Pipe  Taper, not National Pipe Thread). This is used because the taper has greater sealing properties and in theory they can be assembled without thread seal. In practice this doesn’t work, so don’t try it!!

NOTE:- NPT looks very similar to BSP (British Standard Pipe) and whilst they are able to be threaded into each they wont seal reliably, especially as is commonly the case where BSP is not tapered. Dimensionally BSP is different and they should not be used together.

To correctly measure the thread size you need some specialist (although not expensive) tools. You would need a thread pitch gauge, thread caliper, and depth gauge. In practice if you have AirLift Company, AirLift Performance , Viair, Universal Air Suspension, Slam Specialities, Firestone, or our own AirRide components then you will almost certainly have NPT threads, and you don’t need specialist equipment or a full understanding to identify your fitting.

Measuring is simple but there is a common problem that can cause some people to order the wrong thread size, so be careful, and use the guide table included here. Fortunately most systems use 1/8 NPT, 1/4 NPT, 3/8 NPT and 1/2 NPT. In practice the most common is 1/4 NPT. So really we have only 4 fittings in common use, however measuring any element of them will NOT equate to 1/8, 1/4, 3/8 or 1/2 inch so this is where care is needed.

If the OD (outside diameter) of your thread (male fitting) or ID (internal diameter) of the hole (female fitting) is around 12.5mm then its going to be 1/4 NPT. This is where the confusion lies. 12.5mm is 1/2 inch so shouldn’t that be 1/2 NPT? No. It relates to nominal bore (internal diameter of the pipe and water flow,,,) which is beyond this note, and not needed for identification. The measured size is always higher than the named size.

The attached table will help you – there are a lot of different threads and this is meant to assist only for the NPT threads on our website, and the dimensions are approximate for ruler measurement (and not technically correct).

Fittings come in male and female varieties, which are self explanatory, and in straight or 90 degree, which are also self explanatory. All our 90’s are full 360 swivels. Fixed 90’s are useless for air suspension as you cannot control where they end up when they are tight. 360’s can still be turned even when tight.

Our standard fittings are for 1/4 Push To Connect (PTC) hose, although we also have fittings for 1/8, 3/8 and 1/2 PTC pipe, hose, line at the other end of the fitting to the thread. We use only the highest quality fittings which simply don't leak. We have tried lower cost fittings (we get offered fittings from new suppliers almost every day) and they often just don't seal. Our policy for new product ranges is that first we use it on our own vehicles, often for up to a year, then we install only in our workshop and only if we are totally satisfied will we start to supply products to customers knowing they have been tested and checked in the real world.

If in doubt please send us a picture of your fitting, ideally next to a ruler and we can likely help. If you need help identifying your requirements please call us on 0800 772 0315 or send an email to  ENQUIRIES@AIRRIDE.UK

Graphic showing sizes and explanations for air suspension fittings
Posted by Phil

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Air Suspension

Original Equipment (OEM) Front struts and text
Silver Mercedes E Class at AirRide for OEM air suspension repair

Each week we are contacted by someone with OEM air suspension asking for help. What is OEM suspension and why are they contacting AirRide?

Well OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. What this means in terms of air suspension is that if your Mercedes, Audi, Range Rover, Porsche, Bentley,,,,etc left the factory when brand new with air suspension then you have OEM air suspension. Mercedes call it Airmatic but most others just call it air suspension. This is not our core market, but we might still be able to help.

We are a supplier of aftermarket air suspension for conversions from coil or leaf spring to air suspension. The two are very different and none of the parts are interchangeable. So if your car left the factory without air suspension then we are often able to supply conversions to give it air suspension. But our conversions are not the same, and are often not for the same purpose. Our kits tend to be for load support of heavy vans or motorhomes which need auxiliary air to stabilise and lift the vehicles, or for performance cars wanting a low stance and an adjustable suspension to make it practical (and legal) to drive on the road.

So why do people with OEM systems contact AirRide so often if its not our market? Put simply its because the replacement parts for OEMs tend to be very expensive and they are looking for a cheaper solution. When cars are new if they need £5k of repairs with new struts or a compressor and the car cost £60k or £100k then the money gets spent. Once the cars are 5-15 years old and worth 10k this becomes very hard to justify, so people seek out a specialist offering a more affordable solution. Sometimes the world of air is misunderstood and customers incorrectly consider that all air suspension is the same and that our parts are a direct replacement. Usually its cost related.

So what can we offer? Do we rebuild worn out struts with leaking bags etc? In short, its bad news – no we don’t, but we can still help. There are very few struts which can be rebuilt, and very few OEM’s offer parts for rebuilding them. There are a whole host of Chinese suppliers which are incredibly tempting as the costs can be in the order of 15-20% the cost of genuine OEM parts. The bad news is that the OEM parts still represent better value for money!! Most of the Chinese offerings are pure junk. We have tried quite a number of parts over the years (simply because they are so much cheaper) but have found that they don’t drive the same (compromising the ride at best and ruining it at worst) and in general they rarely last more than a few months before you are back in the same situation. For this reason our workshop never fits these Chinese parts to customers cars. We also never fit coil springs to replace air suspension as this just spoils the vehicle totally. A vehicle designed to have air suspension never works properly with a coil spring conversion – the saying goes “coil it and spoil it” , and its proven true. It is also classed as a modification which can and will effect your insurance.

We also don't often offer fittings for OEM equipment from our own range and just buy them direct. This is because most European manufacturers use metric or proprietary threads, whereas the aftermarket industry is dominated by American parts which are imperial (usually NPT)

What we do offer is highly experienced air suspension workshop which can often diagnose problems quicker than most franchised or independent single marque dealers because we only work on air suspension. We also charge less than a franchised dealer, but more than an independent per hour. When repairing systems we only use OEM parts. We have repaired some vehicles that have already been in for new bags and compressors at other garages (costing thousands of pounds) and needed cracked lines replacing which was  few hundred pounds. We have also repaired other vehicles which have already had expensive repair bills (in the thousands) which have not resolved the issues, and where the vehicle needed only an O ring costing less than a pound.

Repairing an OEM equipment suspension system will rarely be a low cost option, but the correct solution is to use safe, reliable parts which our experience shows us is to use only genuine OEM parts.

Please call us on 0800 772 0315 or send an email to  ENQUIRIES@AIRRIDE.UK if you need help with your vehicle although please note our location in central Norwich.

Posted by Phil

Kits for Pickups

We offer a wide range of pick-up kits on the website, they are all load support kits and are therefore installed in addition to the existing suspension - usually leaf spring (although some vehicles do have coil springs). As the name suggests, the kits are designed to support heavily loaded vehicles. Load support improves stability and handling, reduces roll, lifts sagging vehicles to reduce or prevent grounding and assists with towing. They are rear-only kits.

If you wish to add front struts, these are not readily available and would be made to order. Prices start from £1999 depending on customer requirements.

We also receive a few enquiries about lowering kits for pick-ups. That is not something we currently offer as bolt on kits because there isn't enough demand. We can supply universal parts, prices start from £1900. Universal parts do not fit any vehicle directly and will require cutting/welding/grinding on your end to install on the vehicle, and is highly labour intensive.

We supply quite a lot of kits for commercial use pickups, some with fifth wheels and some converted to demountable campers. The load support kits we offer do a wonderful job in these specialist areas, and if you need more information then please call us on 0800 772 0315 or send an email to  ENQUIRIES@AIRRIDE.UK

VW Amarok Air Conversion Kit
Posted by Christine

Custom kits

Close up of DeLorean rear end
Cantilever rear air suspension
Quad Bag rear suspension

Although our main business is the manufacturing and sales of bolt on kits, every month we receive a dozen or so enquiries asking whether we can make a custom kit. Most of the time it's for vehicles where no air suspension solution exists (for instance, classic cars) but sometimes it's because the customer is trying to achieve something very specific, for instance, a 7 inch drop on a Merc or a 6 inch lift on a Porsche (this weeks examples) and none of the existing air suspension kits can offer that.

We have some incredibly experienced staff here at AirRide with a background in custom car building and engineering meaning we can take on some very challenging projects and come up with air suspension solutions that no-one else had successfully brought to the market. The downside is that it costs. A lot. For instance, we'd charge about £5000 for parts and labour to install a bolt on kit. For custom work, prices start from £6000 and that's for simpler projects where the universal parts need only minor tweaking in order to fit the vehicle and achieve customer requirements.

For larger projects with lots of fabrication, testing and development costs can range between £10 000 - 15 000. We once had a customer who spent £20 000 with us to develop a super custom product, and traders wanting a fully developed conversion can spend double that.  Sometimes, when we quote them, potential customers think we're taking the mickey and just email them random prices because we don't want to do the work. This is not the case. Developing an air suspension kit involves far more than putting together some airbags and plates, mounting them onto the vehicle and running airline. Whilst that will get you lifting up and down its not a developed air suspension conversion which needs a whole lot more work. On some projects it can take hundreds of hours to design and manufacture brackets and that's before testing - we've had occasions when what should work in theory does not work in practice meaning the brackets needed re-designing which resulted in dozens of hours added to the project which, inevitably, drives up the cost. And that's just the air suspension part! Cutting of the subframe and other parts of the vehicle might also be required, depending on what the customer is trying to achieve. A properly developed air suspension conversion does not just go up and down - it needs to ride right, and clear so the bags don't get damaged. That takes a lot longer to complete.

We're upfront about this and have advised people in the past against air suspension. For instance, sometimes people have a pickup truck, which naturally sits high up, and an aging dog and they want to be able to lower it for them. In this case we advise to consider either get a ramp or consider changing vehicles.

The same goes for motorhomes and campers that are 30+ years old. Yes, we can put it on air but its often more cost effective to sell the recreational vehicle if the ride quality is so bad and buy a newer one?

Another common reaction, when we explain the potential costs, is for people to ask if we could send them the custom parts to save on labour costs. The answer is no. Custom means that the parts are designed from scratch here in Norwich and they're designed and tested for fit on the vehicle. We absolutely need the vehicle here and it has to stay in our workshop for the duration of the project. It's not possible to leave it here for a day so we could take measurements, drive home and come back some time later to pick up the parts. Custom kits can take anything between 6 weeks and 12 weeks to design and make and the vehicle needs to be with us the entire time. There is no other way. Asking for custom parts to be sent to you without the vehicle coming here is a bit like phoning up a plastic surgeon and asking if they can do the treatment without you being present.

Questions? Please call us on 0800 772 0315 or send an email to  ENQUIRIES@AIRRIDE.UK

Posted by Christine

Air suspension setup: campers and motorhomes

This post is intended for people who're considering equipping their vehicle with air suspension. If you've purchased a camper/motorhome that already has air suspension but it didn't come with any instructions then our basic setup guide is AVAILABLE HERE.

Rear kit for leaf spring/AL-KO

Around 75% of all  UK motorhomes are Fiat Ducato/Citroen Jumper and Relay/Peugeot Boxer based, followed by Mercedes Sprinter/VW Crafter and Ford Transit. We supply kits for all of them, and quite a few more too. In fact almost all UK sold vans, motorhomes or minibuses.

We supply kits for both AL-KO (2006+ vehicles) and leaf spring (1994+) chassis for Ducato/Jumper/Relay/Boxer motorhomes and leaf spring chassis kits for other motorhomes.

The most popular option is load support, which replaces the bump stop with heavy duty airbags. This kit will lift your camper/motorhome, improve handling and ride quality. It will not make your vehicle go any lower than it already is - for that you need an entirely different kit, which is called "full rear" - and we have a selection available on our website for the most popular vehicles. These load support kit also known as auxiliary suspension or semi-suspension also have a place in the procedure for re-rating the vehicles.

All our load support kits use heavy duty, 6 mm steel brackets that are designed to cope with the loads involved and won't slip, bend or break. Beware of kits with 4 mm brackets - it might not sound like much of a difference but it is: 4 mm brackets are inadequate for heavy vehicles (campers and every motorhome!) and will bend under pressure, affecting the ride quality, damaging airbags and leading to costly repairs.

A few years ago, we switched to Boss Air Suspension bags and have never looked back. Boss produces the toughest bags on the market. We've praised them in blog posts in the past and for a very good reason - Boss bags have phenomenal load capacity, more than 1t per side on top of the axle capacity, and they're virtually indestructible. The only way to destroy a Boss bag is by installing it incorrectly, or driving the vehicle with no air pressure in the airbag (same with all bags tbh), which is why its particularly important to check you vehicle if its not used over the winter.

Of course, everything mentioned above means we are charge more for our kits than our competitors and we understand that it's tempting to look elsewhere trying to save money. After all, air suspension is air suspension and all airbags are the same, right? Wrong! Really cheap kits include thin brackets that could cause serious damage to your camper/motorhome and light duty bags that might be OK on an empty van that occasionally carries loads. This is totally unsuitable for campers/motorhomes that are heavy even when empty. Even if the thin brackets will stay in place, the light duty bags won't be able to do much if anything to help your ride quality. We once had a customer who had already spent around £1300 to fit load support that made no difference. We inspected the vehicle and saw the usual combo: a light duty kit with an emergency tyre inflator compressor (designed to be used 1-2 times a year) instead of an air suspension compressor. It took forever to pump air into the bags and that wasn't even the worst news we had to deliver: the kit was the wrong kit for that vehicle. We had to replace the entire kit and on board air system with proper air suspension parts to get the customer what he wanted, what he needed, and what he had already paid for! Remember buy right, buy once.

Rear kit for coil spring campers

If your camper has coil spring on the rear,  such as the hugely popular VW Transporter, then our rear kit will replace the existing suspension, meaning you can lift and lower the rear of the vehicle. We supply kits for T25/T3, T4, T5 and T6, as well as Vitos/V-class and Vivaro/Trafic.

Front kit

Although a rear kit can make a huge difference, we get asked about front air suspension a lot. Fiat Ducato front struts are among our best selling products, followed by VW T5/T6 struts. We can supply struts for most vans, including the new VW Crafter and Mercedes Sprinter, Vivaro and Vito's. If your camper/motorhome has struts on the front, we can make air suspension struts for it! They are all made to order using the highest quality OEM spec twin tube shocks - we dont use motorsport type single tube dampers as our customers don't race their vans on circuits, and prioritise comfort and durability.

On board air

"Do I need on board air?" is one of the most frequently asked questions. It depends has to be the answer. A big proportion of our customers simply want to lift up their sagging motorhome and don't need the option to adjust air pressure on the go. For them, basic Schrader valves are a suitable solution. For customers who want to adjust height and pressure on a regular basis, we recommend adding one of our On Board Air (OBA) options. Standard OBA is great value for money and is designed for weekly adjustment. For more frequent adjustment we recommend the higher spec Premium OBA. About 20 years ago only 1:20 customers went for full OBA, however as knowledge has spread about the benefits of actually being able to adjust the suspension (it easily doubles the effectiveness) then that ration is now almost 1:2.

Some of our customers opt to buy a basic kit with Schrader valves and add OBA later, if required, and if you are not sure or want to spread the cost this can be a good way to go. Please note that this does not work on all vehicles. On board air is always required on vehicles with both front and rear air suspension. Tip:- If you have grounding issues of any kind then you DO need OBA.

Any questions? Can't find your vehicle? Call us on 0800 772 0315 or send an email to ENQUIRIES@AIRRIDE.UK

VW T4 camping adventure
Van strut example
Close up of a new Fiat Ducato kit bottom bracket on blue background
Posted by Christine

Easter 2024

We'd like to thank all our customers for their support and wish them a happy Easter! We might not have the best weather ahead with wind and rain predictions but hey, when has that stood in the way of British bank holidays?!

The Sales Office will reopen on April 2. Orders for in stock items placed during the Easter holidays will be dispatched next week.

Easter bunny
Posted by Christine

Flexi Hoses

Flexi hoses on blue background

Every now and then customers ask us why there are no flexi hoses with our struts. We don’t use them in our AirRide Custom kits. TA Technix and AirRide Gold kits don’t come with them either. AirLift Performance is the only one of our suppliers that continues to use flexi hoses.

Previously we did use braided lines on AirRide Custom products for about 15 years but that changed a few years ago when there were two incidents of professionally fitted garage installations where the braided lines were not fitted to the standard we would expect, and because the braiding is very tough, they touched and wore through the brake lines. Fortunately, there were no accidents just brake fluid leaks, but it caused us to reassess, and we started using nylon lines instead. Although there is a massive visual difference between a braided metal hose and a ¼ inch nylon airline, correctly fitted nylon push to connect lines work very reliably indeed!

Still having doubts? Statistically, we have not had any reports of nylon line failure, and the only reports we do get are mile 1 errors – where they were not routed properly and pulled out before the vehicle left the garage. So particular attention should be paid to the routing of the line where it transitions from strut to chassis. If you are using 3/8 or 1/2 line then the transition will be very difficult/impossible which is why we tend to use 1/4 on almost all installs. This is because larger lines need a larger radius - i.e. they don't go around sharp corners well.

When fitted correctly, the lines should follow the same sort of route as the brake lines and sensor lines (a large 180) and should be well secured and well checked during installation. They should be carefully checked again after 50 miles and then again after 500 miles. Regardless of if you have a braided line or nylon line regular inspection of the strut lines should be a part of regular upkeep on your air suspension system.

Need more information? Please call us on 0800 772 0315 or send an email to  ENQUIRIES@AIRRIDE.UK

Posted by Christine

New! Sprinter/Crafter struts

Our range of van struts just got bigger! The new Sprinters and Crafters, following the end of the Mercedes and VW partnership in 2017, now have struts on the front. It looks like the Crafters got equipped with front struts instead of the original transverse leaf spring some time before Sprinters made the same step but we don't have exact changeover years yet. Therefore, if you have a 2018+ Sprinter or Crafter, just look underneath to see what suspension it has on the front. If in doubt turn the wheel and send a picture. We are always happy to advise.

The rear suspension is still essentially the same but likely to change in near future. We have several options available depending on your requirements and vehicle specs, from load support to lowering kits.

The new air struts use Boss bags, the toughest and highest capacity bag of its type on the market. They are our personal favourite, and are built on original cores. Suitable for a variety of applications, from commercial vehicles to campers and motorhomes.

Various air management options are available to match the chosen air suspension setup: rear only, front only or front and rear.

We get asked about the Sprinter/Crafter front kit for vans with the transverse leaf spring. We did develop a kit some years ago but it was designed for custom low rider vans with emphasis on the drop, not comfort. It is far too complex  (using a combination of hydraulics and air suspension) for campers and motorhomes and therefore we are unable to supply it. There won’t be another front kit aimed at campers and motorhomes either – any development work takes between 6-12 months of continuous work, trial and error, and costs tens of thousands of pounds. As a small, independent business we need to be really selective about the projects we undertake. As much as we love a challenge and bringing a new air suspension product to the market, if we don’t believe there’s enough demand (we may need to sell 100 kits just to break even on some projects) then it’s not financially viable for us to do it.

Our range of van struts is AVAILABLE HERE.

Questions? Call us on 0800 772 0315 or send an email to ENQUIRIES@AIRRIDE.UK

Close up of van struts laid out on work bench
Posted by Christine

Overloaded car transporters

We've seen quite a few social media posts about this plus seen some interesting examples on the roads ourselves and decided to contribute to the topic.

Look at the two photos. In the first one, it's obvious that the flatbed is inadequate for the size and weight of the vehicle. In the second photo, a lot of people wouldn't immediately see that something isn't right. The car physically fits on the car transporter so what's wrong with it? We tend to perceive cars as lightweight and vans as heavy,  when in reality there might not be that much difference in weight between the two. Cars can easily weigh up to 2.5t, which is over the kerb weight of a Ford Transit. Fiat Ducato vans, although they look much bigger and bulkier, have a payload of only 3.5t. Once you deduct the vehicle weight, there is only enough payload left for a really small car or old car.

One of our staff recently witnessed a VW T4 being carried on a Citroen Relay flatbed, which exceeds the payload by about one ton! That might sound like nothing when compared to the Ukrainian lorry, caught a few years ago, that had managed to be overloaded by a whopping 162 tons, but it is no laughing matter.

Overloading is not just illegal, it's dangerous too! Overloaded vehicles have reduced handling and stability - think of going around corners or passing other vehicles on narrow Norfolk roads, take longer to stop or fail to stop at all, and the extra weight puts pressure on major components of the car transporter: suspension, engine, tyres, to name a few. If it's windy and the overloaded flatbed is travelling fast, the consequences can be devasting for other drivers when the driver of the unstable flatbed loses control and gets blown right into your way. It can happen on the motorway, it can happen on a B road.

There is a common misconception that adding airbags to the vehicle will automatically increase payload. It will NOT. The vehicle needs uprating and air suspension is part of the re-rating process. The quality of the airbags is also of great importance. We've said this before and we'll say it again: beware of cheap kits from eBay/other online marketplaces that claim 4000 kg load capacity, this is not possible in real life. Cheap kits use either counterfeit or lightweight bags, often in combination with thin brackets. Low quality kits with false capacity claims can damage the suspension, making the vehicle unsafe and therefore illegal for road use. If you want to add air suspension for load support or plan to uprate your vehicle, buy quality air suspension which, of course, is what we specialise in.

Whilst the Police and VOSA do not inspect air suspension for quality, they do pull vehicles over for a weight check. Driving an overloaded vehicle is an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988. If you need to hire a car transporter, don't just go for the cheapest quote. You need to do the maths to make sure that the flatbed that's arrived to collect your vehicle can actually legally carry it.

Posted by Christine

ALP price reduction

We've had a great start of the year with many AirLift Performance (ALP) products now having been reduced in price, and one favourite re-introduced (may not be permanent). So many kits have gone down in price!

ALP is an iconic brand that many air enthusiasts aspire to own so it's great to see that they've become cheaper. As a company, we always strive to pass on savings to our customers when we can.

Use this opportunity to browse our website, the full range of ALP products is AVAILABLE HERE.

Can't find your vehicle? Call us on 0800 772 0315 or send an email to ENQUIRIES@AIRRIDE.UK

AirLift 3P adjustement shown on the app
Posted by Christine

Mice not Nice (for your suspension)

Mice and air suspension

We get all sorts of enquiries. Our favourite so far has been a customer who asked us how to protect air suspension from mice. If you've ever dealt with rodents then you know they love to chew. Airline is an easy target altough rats can bite through (soft) metal as well!

We've never had a rodent problem with our vehicles but we have had several reports over the years of rodent issues with airline and with wiring, and one customer believed his airbags had been nibbled. So we put together a short guide:

No food

Like any living creature, rodents need to feed. If you have a habit of eating in your car, make sure you dispose of any food wrappers as soon as you're done. Don't leave any leftovers lying around. Vacuum your car or get it cleaned by a professional on a regular basis to avoid crumbs on seats and carpets. If you have a camper or a motorhome, clean the kitchen area after every meal, sweep and/or vacuum the floor on a regular basis. Remove all food items once you're back home and clean your camper/motorhome thoroughly before storing it for winter.  By food we also mean pet food and livestock feed.

Keep it clean

Don't use your vehicle to store random junk, empty product packaging, etc. Check the boot and engine bay if you're not using the vehicle on a regular basis. Don't let rodents get cosy and make a nest. If you're parked in a leafy area, remove the foliage from around your car. Rodents love leaves and use them to build their nests.

Let there be light!

They don't like it. Rodents prefer dark places. This might be a problem if you're vehicle is stored away for winter in a garage so you might need to consider lighting solutions for the garage or inside the vehicle.

Paw patrol

Have a cat? Excellent. Dogs, too, are a natural enemy of rodents. So, if you have pets let them wander round your vehicle if possible. If you're transporting your dog in the vehicle or your cat is curious and likes to jump in every now and then, it will act as a further deterrent to rodents. Our Office Admin once had a cat that loved napping on a warm car bonnet.

Peppermint oil

Natural rodent deterrent. We've heard strories about people spraying hot sauce on their car floor but, personally, we think peppermint oil is a far better option. One of our customers wanted to use it directly on the airline and airbags - this is not something we would do ourselves. The nylon airline will be fine but it is difficult to predict how the peppermint oil would affect rubber airbags.

Need air suspension parts? Call us on 0800 772 0315 or send an email to ENQUIRIES@AIRRIDE.UK

Posted by Christine

Winter shutdown

Both the Sales Office and the Workshop will be closing at 5 PM on 14/12/2023 and reopen at 10 AM on Tuesday, 02/01/2024. During this time, phones will be answered by our Call Centre staff. Please note that they cannot assist beyond taking messages.

Any orders placed will be dispatched after reopening in January. All made to order kits will be dispatched once manufactured when we re-open in the New Year.

We know that many customers install products over the festive period so if you require technical assistance then please email us at  ENQUIRIES@AIRRIDE.UK using the subject ‘Technical’.  Messages will be monitored sporadically by skeleton staff.

We would like to thank our customers for their continued support and wish you all a Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays!

Close up of Christmas decorations on a car
Posted by Christine

New! Ducato, Jumper, Relay, Boxer X290, X295 (2020-) load support kit

Close up of a new Fiat Ducato kit top bracket on blue background

Newer Fiat Ducato vans, campers and motorhomes need a different kit. This is because the later suspension design has less room between the chassis and leaf spring (near the bumpstop), and existing kits won't fit correctly. If your Ducato is 2020+ you will definitely need the new kit. If your Ducato was first registered between 2018-2020, you might need the new kit. It may also be required on some early vehicles where there is limited space.

We've seen examples where the standard kit does physically fit and has been installed on a vehicle but the bags are too compressed to do anything - meaning the ride quality has actually got worse!

Most sellers only offer one kit for all Ducatos from 1994 onwards. This could be because of a number of reasons. We do air suspension installation and servicing in our Norwich workshop so we spot any differences in suspension design when the vehicles come in. Therefore we're either able to source the parts customers need or modify existing kits. Other companies who sell air suspension in addition to their main business and don't offer installations do not have our level of knowledge. That's why they can't provide tech advice for customer queries before or after the sale: they only have the information that comes in the box. As for eBay sellers... There are some good ones out there but their kits are priced accordingly - just like ours. Sellers of cheap kits are an entirely differernt breed. They're not in the business of selling a kit that will fit your vehicle.  They're in the business of selling lots of cheap kits and it doesn't matter if they get a few unhappy customers stuck with parts they cannot use.

What's in the kit? Two double-convoluted air bags, brackets, bolts and fittings necessary for installation. The basic kit comes with Schrader valves but various on board air options are available.


Any questions? Call us on 0800 772 0315 or send an email to ENQUIRIES@AIRRIDE.UK

Posted by Phil