We installed Air Lift LoadLifter 5000 (what a name!) air bags right off the dealer lot. It was our first experience with air bags on any vehicle – and after 18 months – we had a short list of pros, cons, and changes.
- “Infinitely” adjustable to maintain a stock ride height with varying loads (biggest benefit over progressive options like Timbrens).
- Significantly improved handling, ride, and safety under load.
- With these particular bags, you can run them at zero PSI. But most require them to be run at 5 PSI minimum (which we do). And even at zero, the ride suffers. You’ve changed the spring rate so that it’s progressive and almost instantly different. That’s not something that even our King 2.5 bypass shocks know how to account for.
- The bag pressure, like tires, swings up and down with elevation, temperature, and permeability. It’s far from a set it and forget it system. Let’s change that.
- While it doesn’t seem like a big deal at all to change the bag pressure… I’ve noticed when I’m hooking up a trailer or arriving somewhere empty and leaving with a heavy load – there’s no convenient way to change the bag pressure. Let’s change this too!
Those last two bullets on the con list are what we set out to change by installing the Air Lift WirelessOne on board air system. Bascially, these kits have a module that monitors air pressure and a compressor to inflate and deflate the bags. With the use of a remote, you can change the pressure of your bags with the press of a button. When looking at these systems – there are a few options to consider.
- There are wireless and analog systems. The analog systems require you to run air lines to the gauge (inside the cab) while the wireless systems use Bluetooth to control the components installed outside the cab from inside the cab.
- Compressors come in standard duty and heavy duty. If you’re going to use the system for anything besides the bags – I’d opt for the HD. Otherwise, I’d say the SD is plenty for controlling the bags (they take very little volume).
- Modules come as one way or two way. One way systems connect both air bags so that they have the same pressure all the time. Two way systems control each bag independently. Two way is “best” because (1) you can account for uneven loads, (2) the pressure isn’t “swished” from bag to bag, (3) provides some redundancy, and (4) you can use the bags to level the truck on uneven terrain for a camper or similar.
Each of these options drastically change the price. You can spend as little as $100 or as much as a $1,000 on a system that basically does the same thing. We opted for a wireless kit with the standard duty compressor and one way module.
The install, because of the varying components and vehicle layouts, will be wide ranging. Air Lift customer service, as usual, is great to work with. And their kits are instructions are top-notch. What follows will be specific to the fourth-gen Ram trucks.
As most readers know, Yeti is subject to a fair amount of travel off the beaten path. And that sometimes means some water fording. The easiest place to install these is the frame rails along the cab. But that wasn’t an option for us. Instead we had to get pretty creative.
After dropping the spare, we were able to fabricate a couple of stainless steel brackets to mount the compressor and module in the corner of the frame rail and cross member behind the spare on the drivers side. This will still fit a factory size spare. It won’t fit 35’s or 315’s.
We had our eye on the driver’s side all along because of the placement of the battery and main wiring harness. From there we followed the instructions for the wiring and ran it along the main harness that goes from the trailer plug to the hood – largely on the inside of the driver’s side frame rail. Plenty of zip ties to keep things where they should be and away from sharp edges and heat.
Once under the hood we again followed the instructions. For the pink wire that goes to a switched power source – this was tricky. There are very few places under the hood to access switched power on the Ram trucks. The best solution was F90/91 which is a 20A fuse that can be moved side-to-side to make the power outlets in your center console be ACC switched or always on. We gave up our always on power – swapped it to ACC and used a fuse tap to connect the pink wire.
This was a hugely important aspect of the install for us. As mentioned before, we hated how the bag pressure was a moving target for so many reasons. By connecting the module to a switched power source, every time the ignition is in or goes past ACC, the module monitors the bag pressure and makes adjustments based on the last setting. A huge win!
The last step was running the airlines, and checking for leaks. I’ve installed airlines now three times and always spend time chasing down leaks. Maybe I’m just bad at this… but I’d say before you have it all zip-tied up and tidy – run it and do your leak check.
The other thing we did before wrapping up was to connect our phone using the app. It prompted us for a firmware update on the module – which ran without issue. But I’d guess these roll-out semi-often and the one you bought is probably out of date like mine.
And for those of you wondering – like we were – what that thing is on the top of the remote? No – it’s not a USB. It’s a visor clip.