WHY WON'T MY CAR GO LOW ENOUGH?
This depends on the kit and the chassis it has being installed on. Usually the kits will lower the car a substantial amount, however this can vary given that some vehicles body/chassis may restrict the drop. Such as low wheel arches, large wheels/tyres, lack of available shortened dampers, how the chassis sits when lowered etc.
There are customers that go one to further modify their chassis or arches to help achieve further drop on the chassis. However, we would always recommend looking in to getting this professionally fabricated to avoid any failing parts or disappointment afterwards! This isn't something we tend to do in-house, unless it's something we are personally experienced with. We would suggest anyone wanting an extreme look get in touch with us to discuss air suspension options and then consult with a fabricator or body shop for any further work.
This also could be due to a badly installed kit/a kit that isn't meant specifically for that platform has been installed/poor quality parts installed/poorly mounted universal parts/many other reasons for lack of lows! Without having a professional assess the set-up, it's super hard for anyone to tell you what's causing a restricted drop. However, usually a good look under the car can tell you what/where the restrictions are.
We cannot guarantee with all models and all kits that you will achieve the "laying frame" look from your Air Suspension, however we can guarantee an all round lowered look, that we're confident you'll still be happy with!
I HAVE A LEAK ON MY SYSTEM - HELP!
Don’t worry! Leaks are very normal, especially with a new installation! That doesn’t mean that you should ignore a leak though, since they are very easy to track down.
Grab any squirt bottle and fill it with a bit of soap liquid and water. Begin spraying down any connection in your system that you think it may be coming from (ie. specific corner).
Even the slowest leak will cause bubbles to form in the spray.
If the leak is audible and coming from a PTC fitting, be sure the air line is pressed firmly into the fitting and cut as straight as possible on the end of the line. A wonky end will make it difficult for the PTC fitting to grab the airline properly and form a seal.
We have found that DOT approved fittings like those made by SMC and the Nickel fitting range are very reliable for PTC connections, due to the inner “sleeve” that hugs the inside of the air line. See our Guide To Air Fittings page for more information on these.
I HAVE A KNOCKING NOISE - WHAT DO I DO?
Don't panic! This is quite normal and can be a number of things.
If you have AirLift Slam Air Suspension, it's likely going to be the bushings/washers that are sat under the Top Hat of the struts. These are common for perishing or holding debris kicked up from the wheels. If you've not changed them recently, this is worth changing over. The kit you'll need is a "AirLift Slam Upper Repair Kit" and comes with all the replacement serviceable parts you need to renew these parts. The kits are cheap and come with a manual on how to install them.
Alternatively, if you have AirLift Performance Air Suspension or BAGSxBCRacing Air Suspension, it's likely to be the Spherical Bearing in the Camber Top Mounts. Again, similar to the above, this can hold debris or completely dry out causing damage to the bearing and for it not to move freely anymore. This will make a audible knocking noise to the front end when driving. These bearings are available to purchase as a replacement part and known as a "Spherical Pillowball Bearing". These are universal between the AirLift and BC Top Mounts only. These will come with a manual on how to change these over and sold individually.
Your knocking noise isn't guaranteed to be down to the above, however these are common reasons for the development of a noise. This is also commonly described as a creaking noise, banging, we've even had a few Chewbacca's mentioned before!
We recommend doing a number of things to avoid this and help with the longevity of the parts known to perish. See below:
- Keep all top mounts and components involved clean and regularly lubricate the area with a general multipurpose grease or lubricating spray.
- Use your jet wash to give the top mounts a blast over. This will help keep the parts debris free and stop particles from entering the bearings/bushings.
- If your car is a daily driven car, we recommend doing the above two points every time you wash your car or on a monthly basis - especially in hot, dry seasons and in winter months where road salts are used.
WHY DO I NEED TO USE THREAD LOCK OR PTFE?
This depends. Some fittings come with a thin layer of PTFE on the threads and others (such as our Nickle range) come with a rubber O-ring at the base of the threads. The O-ring eliminates any need for any thread lock, although we've known installers use it just for peace of mind. The O-ring will create the air-tight seal you need on its own!
The one thing we don't recommend as a overall rule is DO NOT USE PTFE TAPE - This is known to lose fibres or threads when screwed in or out of ports, allowing debris to get trapped in the manifold or air suspension system. It causes valves to stick open and all sorts of other issues that will ultimately kill your system! A very costly repair for the sake of a few quid on PTFE! So avoid this stuff like the plague!
Unbelievably, some kits come with PTFE tape including in a fitting pack. But this doesn't mean you should use it! Invest in some paste and throw that nasty-ass tape out!
We fully recommend using Thread Lock Paste or PTFE Paste, which you can find on our website here or in any reputable DIY store.
WILL MY AIR SUSPENSION BE OK IN WINTER?
Absolutely! We have a wide spread community of our customer base, some being in countries that get nigh-on Baltic in winter months! That doesn’t stop any of them from driving their air ride equipped vehicles year round.
We do recommend a few steps of preventative maintenance during the winter months to ensure the cold doesn’t adversely affect any air ride components. First off, we always add about two caps of air brake antifreeze to our air tanks as soon as the temperature starts to drop to around freezing at night. This helps prevent condensation from freezing inside air lines, valves, fittings and otherwise clogging up the system. Furthermore, we tend to empty our tanks and water traps more frequently during the colder months - typically once a month.
The generation of water in the system is totally normal and a natural process when air is put under pressure. This water is totally harmless in the system, if kept to a moderate level and emptied via a tank drain kit or a water trap in the system. We've seen some customers not know of this and come to us with about two litres of collected water sloshing around in the tank! So do invest in a tank drain or water trap and thank us later!
I HAVE A LEAK ON A FITTING, WHAT DO I DO?
Check where the leak is coming from by using the advice in the second question above on this page.
Once you have identified the fitting that is leaking, remove the airline and make sure that the end of the airline is cut as straight as possible. This is imperative when using PTC fittings. The inside of the PTC fitting has small teeth that hug the end of the airline, securing the line inside and holding it in place to create a airtight seal. If the airline isn't cut straight, the teeth and seal will struggle to hold it once pressure is passed through it. So try a fresh cut on the end of the line before reinserting it - but ensure you use a super sharp line cutter to guarantee the best cut.
Also, take a look at the fitting, does it look a little dirty, old and battered? Maybe time for a new replacement fitting. Over the years, particularly external mounted fittings, can suffer the usual wear and tear. Sometimes, it's just worth buying a new fitting than trying to re-cut the line or reapplying a million layers of PTFE for it not to work.
I HAVE A LEAK FROM MY COMPRESSOR/TANK, WHAT DO I DO?
Sometimes, folks can report a slow or overnight loss of some air from the tank PSI showing on their controllers or gauges. This again, can be quite common if your kit is of an age. Check out our OCD YouTube Tutorial on how to check for leaks!
However, if you're more of a reader, here's a few potential areas to check on to see how to fix this:
Firstly, check your tank fittings with the soap spray recommended in the previous answers above. Check that all the fittings and plugs are holding a seal. If the water spray bubbles, this indicated a leak. Even the slowest of leaks will still bubble the spray up.
Secondly, check your compressor leader line. There is a check valve on this line that holds air in to the tank and stops air from travelling the wrong way back in to the compressor, allowing a leak from the tank. It's common for these to age and weaken over time, as they're only small. The check valve will look like this on all Viair Compressors:
This check valve will simply twist off the male thread on the end of the braided line. It's worth taking the check valve off and blowing back down the valve the wrong way yourself, to see if it does allow air to travel against the valve.
You can also check this same thing by leaving the check valve connected up and instead, remove the air-filter on the back of the compressor and hold your thumb over the filer hole. When you let go, you'll hear or feel the air travelling out of the hole you were covering. If so, this indicates that the check valve is no longer holding air away from the compressor and in the tank. Check out our range of check valves to replace your existing one! We recommend the SMC Check Valve as this is SUPER reliable and of great quality. It's like your old one, but beefy! This is also a completely serviceable check valve, see our YouTube tutorial on how to service these yourself here.
I HAVE A LEAK ON MY MANIFOLD, WHAT DO I DO?
If you have a AirLift V2, 3P, 3H or a Accuair VU4 manifold that's out of warranty, you may suffer a fault on the PTC ports on the manifold. These fittings in the manifold are luckily available as a spare part and totally replaceable! Hooray! The following advice will save you hundreds of pounds on purchasing a new manifold, just for a tiny fitting leak! *Applause!*
We have a easy OCD YouTube Tutorial on how to remove and replace these fittings, with a link in the description to the fitting you'll need to do it listed on our website.
If you've already seen the tutorial and are just looking for the replacement fitting to purchase, see here for a direct link.
Not feeling confident replacing this yourself? We now offer to do this for you! Simply purchase the fittings linked above, then checkout the OCD fitting repair service here. You can then plug your lines up, sending your faulty manifold in to us to make it as good as new again!
WHAT DO ALL THE ABBREVIATIONS MEAN?
We know how head-scrambling the abbreviations are when researching Air Suspension! Here we explain what they all mean, so can read between the lines and feel more comfortable with the jargon!
PTC - Push to Connect; this is the port found mainly on fittings that allows airline to push straight in! The PTC ports have small teeth inside the port that grip the airline, allowing it to create a solid seal. Over time and especially if you are repeatedly taking airline in and out of these fittings, the teeth can wear and the grip loosen, allowing for small air leaks. If this happens, you will need to replace the fitting.
NPT - National Pipe Thread; this always relates only to a thread size. This applies to both female or male threads (internally threaded or externally threaded). This can apply to fittings, tank ports and bag ports etc. NPT refers ONLY to imperial measurements.
BSP - British Standard Pipe; this term is similar to NPT, but ONLY applies to metric measurements. Here at OCD we only retail imperial fittings, due to these being the only measurements for the kits we retail. You can usually find all BSP fittings on eBay or via your local hardware stores.
ECU - Electrical Control Unit; the ECU is what gives all digital management the possibility of presets and other cool features. You can think of the ECU as the "brain" to the system. ECU's receive a digital signal and translate that into electric signals to send to the manifold/valves in the rest of the system. Some managements have the ECU and manifold/valves integrated in to the same unit, so look out for this feature when browsing!
BOC - Bag Over Coil; Usually used in the USA as an abbreviations, but this term is creeping over the pond! This term refers to the kits where the air bag replaces an existing spring/coil on a static damper, just like our BAGSxBC Racing kits. It can also refer to any suspension where the air bag is threaded on to the damper and replaceable (ie. not fixed to the damper).
WHAT DOES ALL THE JARGON MEAN?
Another head-scrambling part of the research can be the terminology used! Some differing terms can even mean the same thing! Not easy to get your head around and can only infuse more confusion and even put some folks off Air Suspension on it's own! We're here to clear the air and allow you to ammo up on what it all means so you can read along with ease!
Shocks/Dampers; Both terms mean exactly the same thing! This term is used to refer only to the damper of the system, not necessarily the air bag or spring.
Spring/Coil; Again, both terms mean the same! Spring or Coil can be used to refer only to a static spring on a coilover kit or standard suspension.
Damper Travel; This refers to the length of the damper that moves inside the damper cartridge. Imagine the car going over a bump, the top rod of the damper has a "cushion" inside the damper cartridge (lower component of the damper), this action allows for the damper to take most of the energy/movement in the bump and give the driver a comfier ride. However, in air suspension we also refer to damper travel to find how low or high the dampers will allow the car to move. This means that if the Damper Travel is too short, the car may not drop as low as the air bag can allow and restricts the system. It does not harm the system or put anything at risk, but most customers aim for the lift/drop being the most drastic they can. In this sense, we recommend up-rated dampers that are shortened or allow more damper travel to allow the air bag to react to it's best ability.
Hub Mount; This term relates to the bottom mount of the damper that bolts the suspension to the wheel hub of your vehicle. This can also be referrer to as Lower Mount/Lower Hub Mount. Every platform is different and these parts are usually platform specific. These are usually included in all suspension kits we retail and can usually be ordered on their own as replacement parts, if required.
Top Rod/Strut Rod; This is found on the top of the damper. It is usually a machined steel rod that comes out from the damper cartridge at the bottom and up in to the top mount of the suspension. Often you may be required to measure the top rod in order to purchase BAGS or top mounts to fit your existing kit.
OEM; Used in many areas of the motor industry. This term stands for "Original Equipment Manufacturer". This refers to "standard" parts or vehilcles. For example "OEM trim" - means factory issue or genuine manufacturers trim. "OEM Suspension" - means factory suspension or the suspension the vehicle originally came with etc.
Bag/Air Spring/Bellow; All of these relate to the air suspension bag. Sometimes referred to as a Air Spring, it doesn't physically describe what we would know as a spring and is more commonly heard in the European market.
Pillowball Bearing/Camber Bearing; This is the part that is used in some (but not all) top mounts on air suspension to allow the owner to add camber to their set-up. This is a feature that is preferred throughout that market, as it adds quality to a kit. However, due to some platforms not allowing the use of these kinds of top mounts, some are supplied with fixed top mounts instead, that do not require the bearing. Sometimes, these bearing can perish or eat up debris. This can cause a knocking noise, see further up this page for more info on this. The bearings are replaceable.
Dampening Adjustment/Fixed Dampening; A feature all suspension offers! Dampening (although very close to damper!) refers to the rebound quality of the suspension. Some budget kits offer Fixed Dampening - this means that the kit offers only a set rebound on the dampers themselves and can not be changed. Other kits offer Adjustable Dampening and is usually found in higher quality kits. This means that the dampers offer a Dampening Adjustment Knob on the kit to allow the user to adjust the quality of the rebound on each damper. This makes the rebound action stiffer or softer, depending on your preferences. This is also great on heavier vehicles or those with uneven weight (heavy engines etc).
Threaded Damper Bodies; This refers to a specification that may not be available for every car on every kit. It means that the damper body/cartridge can be threaded. This feature allows the user to wind the threaded dampers up or down in the hub mount, allowing for extra adjustment and fitment for wheels etc. If the kit you're looking at doesn't mention a threaded damper body, the kit will likely come without this feature. Always best to contact the dealer or manufacturer to check if this is a feature you're hoping to get.
Camber/Fixed Top Mounts; Again, similar to the Pillowball Bearing paragraph above, this is a platform specific feature and you will come across this in every kit you research. Some will come with Camber Adjustable Top Mounts and others will come with Fixed Top Mounts or even use the OEM/Standard top mounts your vehicle currently has. This all depends on the car.
Spring Perch; Some platforms of vehicles have a rear end set-up where the original suspension has a spring mounted separately to the damper, but they work together. Upgrading these types of platforms to air suspension works to mimic the original set up, keeping a air bag separate to the damper. Most kits will refer to the Spring Perch - this being the point of the chassis where the original spring was mounted/fixed to. This is also where most manufacturers like to mount the new air bag. The air bag will usually come with a built in "mount" on the bag itself that bolts straight to the same spring perch.
Platform/Chassis; This ultimately means the same thing when referred to in the Suspension market. This mainly explains the model of vehicle, such as "Vehicle A and Vehicle B share the same chassis" or "Vehicle A is based on the same platform as Vehicle B".
False Floor; At OCD we use this term when referring to a boot install. This is what it says on the tin and refers to a False Floor in the boot/trunk of the car. This allows owners to keep maximum boot space by installing all the air suspension components under a false floor.
AirLine; This is nylon tube that installers and suppliers use for the air to travel around the set-up. This is strong enough to cope with the PSI levels and flexible enough to bend and shape around the car when plumbing the lines in to the system.
Hardline/Pipe; This is either Copper or Aluminium pipe that can be used as an alternative to Airline to create boot installs or have something a little nicer to look at around certain components. Hardline can be polished, brushed, painted or left raw. This can also be bent with a pipe bender to create angles and patterns to suit your install!
Straight Fitting; Used for both female and male threaded fittings (See NPT subject above for more info on that!). This generally describes the style of the fitting range.
Elbow/90' Fitting; Both terms mean the same and are used to describe a style of fitting that allows a connection to angle off at a complete right angle. Great for those tight spaces!
Bulkhead Fitting; These are commonly used in a boot install to create a design using a false floor. A bulkhead fitting allows the installer to connect airline or hard-line from any item on top of the false floor to the components underneath, seamlessly!
Union Fitting; Great for connecting airline together and creating a air tight join between two pipes or threads. These are available in straight and elbowed styles. Don't get confused with the Straight or Elbow fittings though, the they are usually a PTC end and a NPT end. Where as a Union has a PTC port on either end!
Nipple Fitting; (All the LOL's) These aren't what you think... In fact, they're the same as a Union Fitting above, but only come in a straight design.
Threaded Reducer Bushing; These are great for adding on to the end of a male NPT to make it a different size, without having to change up more fittings than you need! For instance, you have a male thread that is 1/8" in size, but your female threaded connector is 3/8". You purchase a reducer bushing that has an outer thread of 3/8" and an inner thread of 1/8". This allows you to connect the two differing sizes together, without replacing a number of other fittings!
Stem Elbow/Stem Fitting; Great for plugging in to airline or manifold ports to connecting to other airline lengths. These can also expand/reduce the sizes between connecting airline. They also come as "blanks", allowing users a way to shut off airline ends.
Tank Plugs/Blanks; Referred to as both plugs and blanks, these are fittings that do as they say! Most commonly used in the unused ports of a air tank, these fittings plug the ports that aren't used elsewhere, otherwise you'd have a hefty air leak on your hands!
Tees; These are literally T-shaped fittings that allow installers to plumb a up to three connections in the airline system. Great for those running lines from a tank or manual system. These come in a variety of combinations between PTC and NPT ports.
Drain/Inflation Valves; Very similar to tyre valves, these allow users to attach a valve to the end of the airline or bottom port of a air tank for example. These come in either PTC or NPT on the opposite end of the valve, so they can be threaded in or allow direct installation on to an airline tube. Commonly used on a Tank Drain Kit.
Leader Lines/Braided Hose; Initially introduced for front air suspension struts, these braided lines offer a more robust airline to the air bag. Mostly to try and avoid any easy "rubbing" from the wheels/tyres when installed. Although, should your suspension be installed safely and appropriately, you should not suffer any contact with the airline to your bags. However, some customers prefer the reassurance of braided hose on their suspension. These can be purchased separately, if not included in the kit you buy.
Compressor; Sometimes referred to as an Air Pump, this compressor is used to pump air in to the tank to keep the system stocked up. The compressors come in either Chrome or Black colours and in a range of models. We would recommend a 444c Viair Compressor as standard.
Air Tank; This component of the system retains a level of compressed air (fed in by the compressor) and acts as an "Air Reservoir" for the system to use. The use of the tank allows the system to run air around, without needing the compressor to continuously run and run. Tanks are available in a range of sizes and capacity, although a standard size we recommend is a 4-Gallon or 19-Litre sized tank.
Manifold; Similar to how your intake manifold accepts air and distributes it to your engine cylinders, your air ride manifold accepts air from your tank and distributes the air to your bags. In an air ride setup, a manifold is composed of numerous solenoids and generally decreases the installation time of air management systems by reducing the amount of wiring and plumbing when compared to individual valve setups. Examples of manifolds include the AccuAir VU4 Manifold and the Air Lift Performance 3P (Combined ECU and Manifold) just to name a couple!
Solenoid/Valves; Technically this term refers to electromechanical solenoids found throughout analogue and digital air ride systems, often built into the manifold. Simply put, the term solenoid is often times interchanged with valve, which refers to the pneumatic valves that control the air flow throughout your air ride system. Each corner of an air suspension system is composed of (2) valves, one for “fill” and one for “dump” . Therefore, modern “8-way” or “FBSS” systems are composed of (8) pneumatic valves and solenoids to power these valves.
Relay; A relay is an electrically operated switch found throughout vehicle electronics and a common component in air ride management systems. The basic idea of a relay is to conditionally provide power from a high amperage source to a target via a low amperage signal. The relay takes a very low amperage signal to “open” the connection from the power source to the target receiving power. Relays are commonly used to trigger compressors on and off automatically via a pressure switch, which is another kind of electromechanical device in that a physical action results in an electric reaction.
Pressure Switch; A device that is used to read the level of air inside the tank. This tells the compressor to begin pumping air when the levels are too low and also tells it when the tank is full. These switches are available in a number of different cut-off levels to suit your tank capacity.
Burst Rate; This always sounds horrific! But it's a simple laymans terms to describe the PSI rate that products are tested to hold. The max PSI rate is always much lower than the burst rate, however manufacturers are held by law to test their products in this way when PSI is involved. For instance, a standard 4-gallon tank has a PSI maximum of around 200PSI, but the "burst rate" on testing was 800+PSI.
Ride Height; This refers to the height that users would drive at normally from A to B. It can also be referred to as the "Standard Ride Height", which is the height your vehicle would have sat at on the standard factory suspension.
Aired Out; Commonly used term to describe the vehicle being at a level where all the air in each bag has been expelled. For example "It only happens when I air out" or "I got home and aired out" etc.
Aired Up; The opposite of the above!
Sleeve/Single Bellow/Double Bellow; These are all terms used to describe the shape of an air bag design. All designs and shapes are used for differing platforms and reasons, but mainly these are used to enable the best performance and clearance on each kit. Sleeve style is a long tall and slim design and rolls up when aired out like a sleeve would roll up an arm. A single bellow design is usually one chamber, shaped like a jar and sandwiches down when aired out. A double bellow is like a B-shaped design, allowing for better performance with filled with air. Like the single bellow, this sandwiches down when all air is expelled. There are other designs available on the market, but these 3 are the most common.
Check Valve; Sometimes referred to as a one way valve, which is a much more descriptive name for this type of valve which only allows air to flow in one direction. These types of valves are found at the end of a compressor leader line (or braided line), and are useful for isolating your air tank capacity from your bags. For example, many individuals place a check valve between their air tank and manifold. This allows the user to remove the air tank while keeping air in their air bags, and furthermore provides peace of mind knowing that a tank leak will not ever cause the air springs to slowly deflate.