If you adding air bags to your car, truck, suv or motorhome you’re probably wondering how much air should you put in the air bags. There is no golden rule for the amount air pressure you should start with. You have to take into account a few things before you start inflating you air bags.
All air bag kits will have a warning on how much air pressure you can put in them. It will vary from manufacturer and product line, but here are a few of the more popular kits and their maximum psi. The maximum psi will vary with your specific air bag kit number, so you should check the instructions for your specific air bag kit. Most air bag kits will fall into this range.
Air Lift 1000 kits – 35 to 100 lbs. maximum PSI (Varies with application)
Firestone Coil-Rite Kits – 35 to 90 lbs. maximum PSI (Varies with application)
Air Lift Ride Control kits – 100 lbs. maximum PSI
Firestone Sport-Rite kits – 100 lbs. maximum PSI
Air Lift LoadLifter 5000 kits – 100 lbs. maximum PSI
Firestone Ride-Rite Kits – 100 lbs. maximum PSI
Hellwig Air Bag Kits – 100 lbs. maximum PSI
So, now that we have the maximum amount of air that you can put into your air bags out of the way, let’s look at how much you should put into them to get the ride you want. First thing you want to do after installing your air bag kit is to get your vehicle on a level surface, next to an air pump at a gas station will work. Make sure you have the minimum air pressure in your air bags, 5 lbs., before heading out.
Inflate your air springs so your truck or SUV is level and your headlights are at a correct angle. Also check your truck from the rear and make sure you are level from side-to-side. Inflate or deflate your air bags until you have the height you want. If you are planning on filling the back of your pickup truck with logs, obviously you’ll want to over compensate for the upcoming load.
Now that your truck is level, take if for a ride and check the ride comfort and stability. If it feels stiff you may have too much air pressure. We have found it is easier to start out with more air than you think you need and work your way down, fine tuning until you get the desired ride from your air bags. This can take a little work if you are manually inflating and deflating your air springs. We recommend an air compressor kit if you plan on using your air bags frequently and tow more than a few times a year. Air compressor kits allow you to inflate and deflate your air springs from the inside of your truck and monitor the air pressure at all times. We have found they are worth the extra money and people that have air compressor kits seldom run into air bag problems associated with low air pressure.
Due to the fact that air bag kits are installed on a wide variety of vehicles with suspensions in various conditions there is not a set psi number you should go with. Unfortunatley, you cannot say for example, use 50 psi in your air bags if you have a 2010 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD and you are towing a 30 ft. Jayco travel trailer. If you haul heavy loads and your leaf springs are worn out, you will need more air than the other guy with the same truck but whose leaf springs are in good condition. The psi will vary with how much weight your are towing or hauling and the condition of your trucks suspension.
While we are discussing air pressure, we have to mention minimum air pressure. The most common cause for failure in air bags is running them without the minimum air pressure. This causes them to bottom out, tear, etc. You should always keep 5 lbs. of air pressure in your air bags to prevent any damage. 5 lbs. will not affect your ride but will ensure your air bags last. This is where an air compressor kit comes in handy, monitoring and maintain the minimum air bag pressure.
Remember it will take a few tries to get the air pressure exactly where you want it. Don’t expect to get it perfect or settle on your first go around. Add and deflate until your vehicle is level and you have the ride comfort and stability you want. It will take some tinkering, but it can be achieved. You can call Michigan Truck Spring at 1-800-358-4751 or 989-755-0561 if you have any questions regarding air springs or airbag kits. They have been installing and selling them for years and have hands on experience with just about every make and model truck.