Air suspension is the vehicle suspension powered by an electric or engine-driven air pump or compressor. The compressor pumps the air into bellows, which is made from rubber. The air pressure then inflated the bellows and it’s used in place of conventional steel springs in cars and heavy-duty vehicles. This includes loading trucks and even buses.
Most of the time, air suspension kits are used on semi trailers and passenger trains. However, they may be used on cars as well. To help you pick the perfect air suspension kit for your vehicle, we review the top 3 air suspension kits. We looked at product details lifting capacity, quality, and price, and came up with our top 3 choices. Here is a comparison showing our picks:
Air Lift 57275
5 to 100 PSI
Firestone Ride-Rite 2550
Air Lift 60818
5 to 35 PSI
Air Lift 57204
Firestone Industrial Products 2582
0 to 100 PSI
Air Lift 57538 Nylon
5 to 100 PSI
Unity Automotive 65003c
How Do Air Suspension Kits Work?
Air suspension is the vehicle suspension powered by an electric or engine-driven air pump or compressor. The compressor pumps the air into bellows, which is made from rubber. The air pressure then inflated the bellows and it’s used in place of conventional steel springs in cars and heavy-duty vehicles. This includes loading trucks and even buses. Most of the time, air suspension kits are used on semi trailers and passenger trains.
An air suspension kit is a specialized set of automotive components that allow an individual to adjust their vehicle's height to meet precise specifications. When properly installed on all four corners of a vehicle, an air suspension kit is often able to improve operational performance. This is particularly true when it comes to handling on uneven surfaces because the airbag system in the air suspension kit is ready to smooth out harsh shocks.
Types of Air Suspension Systems
Benefits of Installing Air Suspension
One of the obvious benefits of installing an air suspension system is a smoother ride overall, regardless of your vehicle’s size. For mid-sized vehicles, an air suspension system can mimic the handling of a luxury vehicle, especially when traversing urban streets. Meanwhile, large trucks can enhance their towing capabilities after an air suspension system has been properly installed.
How To choose a Quality Air Suspension Kit
The whole idea of air suspension is to provide constant ride quality: no bumps, no shaking and no trailer sway. In the last ten years, air suspension has become extremely popular in vehicle culture. They are used to provide adjustable suspension, allowing cars and other vehicles to sit lower than average while still managing to clear obstacles. The popularity of airbag suspension has created a massive awareness about the benefits of installing them on cars and trucks.
There is a massive improvement in overall road handling with an air suspension kit, and depending on the type of system that is installed, a custom airbag suspension has the power to inflate and deflate automatically. There are some things that you should consider before you buy an air suspension kit for your vehicle, though, and we’ve listed some of them below.
There are several different types of air suspension systems, each of which come with their own functional benefits and drawbacks. Most of these types are made from heavy-duty rubber, allowing them to remain resilient in the face of repeated carloads of strain. More information on these different types can be found in the “Types of Air Suspension Systems” section above.
Modifications to your vehicle will affect appearance and performance, so you need to ensure you know what you need when you buy an air suspension kit before you do so. There are kits for off-roaders, and are more expensive and then there are others out there that are for normal street use.
Quality of Parts
When it comes to modifying a critical vehicular system such as the suspension, you should only select quality parts from reliable manufacturers. While some major brands such as Firestone make air suspension systems, some lesser-known brands also make quality kits as well. User reviews are a great way to gauge the overall quality of this domain.
Compatibility & Size
Each air suspension component takes up a bit of physical space inside of your vehicle. As such, different size kits have been created to accommodate mid-sized to over-sized vehicles. Choosing an incompatible size can be a serious issue that leads to the part’s failure. Accordingly, you should always consult a mechanic before selecting a specifically-sized kit.
Ease of Installation
Air suspension kits are complex, so you should always leave the kit to be installed by a professional mechanic. You can use DIY kits, but you need to be confident about installing such a kit before you go ahead. The integrity and safety of your vehicle is at stake here, so it’s not something to mess with. If it isn’t installed correctly, you could void the warranty that you were given: lifetime or not.
Air suspension kits are different from hydro suspension systems – hydraulics – and the two shouldn’t be confused. Air suspension is a good investment for anyone who wants a car that can perform better every single use.
You don’t have to spend the earth on a proper air suspension kit to have the best in the industry. You need to take into consideration the fact that your stock suspension components would be replaced by this system. There are a lot of kits in the online market that can cater to any basic or automatic need, all it takes is the right research.
Some air suspension kits come with a warranty, which allows the users to recoup the cost of the part if it fails unexpectedly or fails to meet expectations for performance. When comparing prospective kits, be sure to factor in the value of a warranty because such an investment may save you money on replacement parts down the line.
7 Best Air Suspension Kits reviewed
1. Air Lift 57275
- Fully adjustable air springs level your...
- Eliminate sag and bottoming out. More even...
- Rugged durable components including air...
- Easy to install with included instructions....
When you’re looking for an air suspension kit that is designed to level the load of the vehicle while towing, this is the kit for you. With this kit you get the following:
With this kit, you can eliminate sag and you get a 5000lb leveling capacity which is easy to facilitate and quick to install. The Air Lift adjustable air helper spring levels the load and can give your truck, van, or SUV a much safer and more comfortable ride.
The air spring that comes with the kit is easy to install between the existing spring and the frame of the vehicle, all you have to do is add air when towing or hauling a heavy load. You should also reduce the air pressure when it’s unloaded – they’re fully adjustable for a better ride. Air Lift air suspension kit springs eliminate sag and sway and stops bottoming out. For a long and reliable service, they’ve been made with durable and rugged components.
These air suspension kits are Air Lift’s heaviest-rated kits for towing and hauling the heavy loads. These kits have been designed to fit ¾ ton vehicles and one-ton pickup trucks. It can also fit Class A, B and C motorhomes as well as commercial trucks.
These kits have a real air muscle, keeping your vehicle riding level and comfortably with no load, towing or loaded and on any road condition. With the toughest helper springs in the Air Life range, their capacity goes up to 5000lb of leveling. Here’s what else it can offer:
You need an air suspension kit that has maximum convenience. This will include leveling on the go, and nothing will beat the Air Lift on board compressor system. This system can be either dash-mounted or automatic, which makes it easily adjustable to your vehicle. The compressor systems by Air Lift are the best in the industry.
The LoadLifter 5000 air spring system is promised to be free from workmanship defects and defective materials for the lifetime of the vehicle from original installation. For comfort and load handling, Air Lift guarantees you’ll be happy with the improvements made. If you’re not happy, you can remove the product and return for a full refund within 60 days of of the purchase.
Air Lift has been developing air spring suspension products for almost 60 years and the versatility of the air suspension kits on offer are such that have been proven since the early years of stock car racing. They follow health and safety standards to the letter – the standards are rigorous and Air Lift are committed to continuous improvement.
2. Firestone Ride-Rite 2550
Ride-Rite air helper springs are air suspension kits that can be installed on most trucks, motorhomes, SUVs, RVs and vans. Firestone air helper springs get installed between the frame of the vehicle and the suspension, which then provide load support through the use of air pressure.
If there’s one thing that Firestone have made a commitment to here, it’s to provide customers with the best air suspension kits in the industry. Quality, durability and customer support are synonymous with Ride-Rite, with the customer support the best in the industry. Each application of the air suspension kit is designed to maximise the safe load carrying capacity, ride quality and the stability of the vehicle.
Here is some information about the way the Firestone Ride-Rite air suspension kit works:
The basic air suspension kit includes the following items:
The most comprehensive and popular air helper spring line. Ride-Rite kits can be installed on almost all light trucks, and each application is designed to maximise brake effectiveness, stability and ride quality. The individual valves don’t just allow for side to side adjustment: front to rear adjustment is also possible.
Each of these air suspension kits comes with a two year limited warranty and with installation only taking around 1 to 2 hours, it’s easy to install and manage. Before you install take the time to spray oil on the nuts for both the bump stops and ¾ inch bolts that hold the hitch bracket in place.
This is an air suspension kit that will improve steering control.
3. AIR LIFT 60818
These air suspension kits are designed to eliminate potential risks such as squat, trailer sway, rough ride poor headlight aim and body roll. This smaller load capacity still offers up to 1000 pounds of load leveling capacity. It is perfectly suited to Dodge Ram 1500s and are adjustable from 5-35 PSI. Despite lacking the load carrying of other kits on our list, this model remains a great choice for those working with pickups.
4. Air Lift 57204
- This part is compatible with these...
- Perfect for commercial trucks, wreckers,...
- Now fits 1/2 ton pickup trucks
If you ask around in the auto mechanic community, they’ll certainly agree with the belief that the Air Lift 57204 kit is the best air bag suspension kit for Chevy trucks. That’s because this kit makes use of Air Lift’s proprietary LoadLifter 5000 air suspension system to comfortable level loads up to 5,000 lbs. Better yet, this kit’s components are compatible with many 1/2-, 3/4-, and 1-ton pickups and vans, making it an ideal pick for industrial business owners looking to keep their fleet of vehicles operating smoothly.
Speaking of compatibility, Air Lift has actually taken the guesswork out of installing or replacing an air suspension system. On their website, Air Lift has listed which contemporary truck and van models are compatible with this kit, including the 2019 Chevy Silverado line. Accordingly, you'll be able to safely install the Air Lift 57204's airbags on your first try and save some money along the way.
All in all, the Air Lift 57204 kit remains a popular pick for Chevy truck owners due to its unmatched ability to eliminating squatting, trailer sway, and bottoming out. If you have a trusted Chevy mechanic, be sure to ask about this kit when it comes time to upgrade your vehicle’s suspension system.
5. Firestone Industrial Products 2582
Though you may not notice it at first, the Firestone 2582 kit provides amateur vehicle modders with the best value for their money. For this kit's price tag at just over $300, you get absolutely everything you will need to install a new air suspension system successfully. Brackets, screws, airlines, and the whole nine yards come packed in with these airbags, so all you'll need to supply are the appropriate tools.
In terms of core specifications, the Firestone 2582 kit has a lot to show for itself. This kit's air bags come in a variety of sizes that are capable of leveling loads between 3,200 and 5,000 lbs. Regardless of their size, though, this kit’s air bags can be inflated between 0 and 100 PSI, which is more than enough to absorb shocks and shakes on the roughest of roads.
Finally, as with most Firestone products, this kit is fully assembled in the United States. As such, you can count on each component to remain durable over their full lifespan and expect Firestone to honor their warranty (as long as you follow the appropriate steps, that is).
6. Air Lift 57538 Nylon
- Up to 7,500 lbs. load-levelling capacity...
- Massive 7-inch double-convoluted bellows air...
- Includes roll plates to protect the air...
- Most kits require no drilling into the...
Much to my surprise, the Air Lift 57538 is considered the best rated model on this list. That’s not to say that I believe that it is any less than advertised, however. In fact, I was fully surprised to learn that this full kit, when properly installed, carries a 7,500 lbs load-leveling capacity. That's easily the largest load-leveling capacity in its class, regardless of whether this kit's airbags are inflated at their 5 PSI minimum or their 100 PSI maximum.
Of course, the credit for this model’s remarkable capacity must go to its air springs, which make excellent use of a proprietary double-convoluted bellows construction. Though these 7-inch air springs are particularly durable, you'll undoubtedly be able to efficiently use them on your truck or van for a decade or more due to their use of built-in roll plates, which protect the air springs when they are compressed.
Finally, the Air Lift 57538 kit is compatible with most 2011-2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks. As such, you’ll be able to install this kit’s excellent air suspension system so long as you have a truck from the past 10 or so years.
7. Unity Automotive 65003c
- Convert your factory air suspension to a...
- Each kit includes all the necessary parts and...
- Restores your vehicle factory ride height and...
- Engineered for superior fit and trouble-free...
While an air suspension can make a huge difference for most vehicle owners when it comes to handling and performance on an uneven surface, they aren't perfect. This can become especially apparent when one or more of the system's airbags fail to maintain an appropriate inflation level. If this occurs when you are away from home, you may be stuck up a creek without a paddle.
But before that can happen, some former air suspension system users have opted to use this, the best air suspension conversion kit, to convert their factory air suspension system into a non-air steel spring suspension set up. This kit includes all of the components you need to make this happen, including an assortment of washers, bushings, shock absorbers, springs, and more. You can read about spring assisters here.
All of these components come with a lifetime warranty also, making this excellent value kit an even savvier purchase option. If this kit has any one drawback, it is that it is only certified to convert several late 90s and early 2000s Ford and Lincoln vehicles. But with some advice from a mechanic, you can surely adapt it to fit your contemporary conversion needs.
When to Replace Your Air Suspension
Several specific symptoms will signal that it is time to replace your vehicle's air suspension system. First, if you notice an excessive amount of wear or abrasion on the rubber sleeve's surface, it will likely wear through soon thereafter. Also, if your system's airbags are failing to hold pressurized air efficiently, a new set of airbags or an entirely new system may be in order.
What’s Included in an Air Spring Kit?
Most standard air spring or air suspension kits include the following:
Coil Spring vs Air Spring Suspension
Coil springs and air spring suspension systems are often compared to one another due to their shared use of an air-filled bladder to supplement a vehicle’s suspension capabilities. However, they differ noticeably when they are put into action.
For example, coil springs are known for their ability to provide larger vehicles with more towing power. They accomplish this by filling the gaps in the built-in suspension springs as they compress, which in turn gives the suspension system more torque.
Meanwhile, air suspension systems are prized for their ability to emulate the supple movements of luxury vehicles. Also, air suspension systems are far more tuneable, allowing users to more efficiently customize their vehicles ride-height and stance over time.
Air Suspension vs Traditional Suspension
Traditional vehicular suspension systems use a series of heavy-duty springs and struts that actively prevent the entire vehicle from jolting about when traveling over uneven surfaces. Instead, these springs compress and decompress to allow for more balanced handling.
Air suspension systems go above and beyond these standard capabilities because they are often more able to respond to added weight and pressure at the vehicle's four corners. This, in turn, prevents a great deal of bouncing as a car moves along, thus matching the handling of a luxury-grade vehicle or a heavy-duty truck.
Installation & Maintenance Guidelines
Installing an air suspension system is considered a more professional-grade vehicle modification. That being said, you can certainly learn how to perform this task by carefully studying how-to guides on the topic as well as consulting with a trusted auto mechanic. Also, this following video will provide you with a step-by-step guide to installing your newly-purchased air suspension kit:
Generally speaking, maintenance guidelines for your specific style of air suspension system will be explained in your owner's manual. That being said, there are several general maintenance tips that all air suspension system users should keep in mind.
First and foremost, you should inspect your air suspension system at least once a year. At that time, you should check for aging across the rubber surface of your airbags. At the same time, you should ensure that there are not any repetitive wear spots that may give way and allow moisture into the airbag before your next inspection.
For more tips on how to maintain your new air suspension system, check out this guide with information from the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
How often should you replace shocks and struts?
Generally speaking, shocks and struts should be replaced every 50,000 to 100,000 miles. However, if your vehicle regularly operates in high-impact areas, then you may consider having your shocks and struts checked by a certified mechanic on a more regular basis (such as once a year).
How long does it take to replace suspension?
A vehicle's suspension system is complex, with each component requiring several hours to replace properly. Each shock, for example, typically requires 2-3 hours to safely and securely remove and replace. As such, a full suspension replacement may take up to 5 days, depending on the condition of the replaced parts.
How long do air suspensions last?
Most standard air suspension systems last between 50,000 and 75,000 miles. However, some manufacturers list their systems as lasting up to 10 years of regular use. In either case, you should regularly inspect your air suspension system and make a replacement when an excess of wear begins to appear throughout the system.
How much does it cost to have a professional mechanic install air suspension on my vehicle?
In consideration of both parts and labor, current estimates place a professional installation of an air suspension system at between $2,480 and $2,520. Specific prices will vary from mechanic to mechanic, though.
How can I make my air suspension more comfortable?
Your best bet for getting a more comfortable ride out of your air suspension system is to experiment a bit. Though the manufacturer's inflation recommendations will likely provide the most balanced performance, you may find that a slightly over or under-inflated airbag better suits your vehicle's suspension needs.
What are the best air suspension kit brands?
There are several popular manufacturers in the air suspension kit business today, including Firestone, Air Lift, and Unity. Each brand’s products can be purchased online at a noticeable discount from retail prices.
As you can see, there's a lot to know about air suspension systems before you go about installing one of your own. Though these innovative systems can truly enhance your vehicle's stability and control in a variety of situations, they also require some amount of practice to install correctly. If you're still set on installing one of these systems, be sure to use the Air Lift 57275. Its use of a double-chambered construction and nylon lines make it durable beyond all expectations.
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