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Air Bag Suspension Failure: Air Lift to the Rescue!

by Frank Ewald

In my recent article about the 10,000 kilometre trip that my wife and I took to the west coast I was talking about the preparation for the trip and the installation of the 5 Star Tuning RV and towing tune. It was a great trip and the new fluids - Ford radiator fluid plus Amsoil oil, transmission, and differential products will stand me in good stead for my next trip. Well, the engine oil has been changed as I figured 10K was enough.

 

Back to B.C. and maybe back to Red Pine State Park in Washington. I wonder if it's open in October?

That is a good thing, because we are likely already on the road and heading back to British Columbia by the time you are reading this article. However, there was a bit more work to be done on the RV. On the way back to Ontario there were times when it drove like a drunken sailor. Any type of crosswind and the RV, which is like a giant brick travelling down the road, and the RV was reacting far worse than normal. So on a regular stop I checked the pressure in the air bag suspension and, sure enough, the passenger side front was way down. My RV's setup has individual lines to each of the four corners and I pump it up with an external source. So I topped it up and, assuming that it was just one of those oddities that happen, carried on our way. Only to have it start behaving the same way before we were too far down the road.

 

The 15 year old air bag suspension system is in great shape - except for the front right corner. That was losing air significantly in just a half day.

The air bag obviously had a leak. This was confirmed when, after pumping it back up again, in no driving time at all it was low and meandering around the road unless I kept a firm grip on the steering wheel. Driving across the prairies it was not too bad as apart from the occassional gust of wind it was flat and straight driving. Northern Ontario, well, that was a more exciting trip as it was uphill and down, winding along the shores of Lake Superior, and simply exciting driving. Back in Ontario and home, the RV was parked and the suspension forgotten as it would be parked for the winter. I figured it would be a spring 2016 project.

 

In July our family had the opportunity to be together and camp at Banff National Park in Alberta. It was amazing!

Life often throws us unexpected blows, and as a family we are dealing with one right now. Our grandson Emmett, now 6.5 months old, has been diagnosed with a very challenging genetic disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Type 1. We are not the first family to have our world rocked by a little one's life threatening illness nor will we be the last, but it hurts to the core. My article output will be down over the upcoming months as my writing is focused upon Emmett's Journey instead. It felt like we had no sooner arrived home than, upon hearing of this diagnosis, we flew back out to B.C. for several weeks. And now we are back in Ontario preparing to take the RV back to the Pacific Coast for an extended stay. And then I remembered how it was handling and that it needed more care than I could handle. My buddy Dave and I checked the lines and they appeared to be in good shape, which only meant that the bag itself must be leaking.

 

The deterioration is evident in a couple of spots - understandable in a 15 year old vehicle. To check out the leaks Elmer pumped it up to about 45 lbs and, as I'd been running it at about 25 lbs for the last five years, it was more than it could handle. The leak became a rupture! Surprisingly, the bag did not fail at its seam.
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Comments
blackdbl0si
blackdbl0silink
Thursday, October 08, 2015 5:49 AM
I have an Air Lift system on the back of my F350. Good product and great instructions.
Discotea
Discotealink
Thursday, October 08, 2015 10:14 AM
Good luck with Emmett's diagnosis and recovery.
nissannx
nissannxlink
Sunday, October 11, 2015 3:03 AM
Blackdbl, isn't it great when you're working with a company that has a well thought out instruction manual! And even more when their customer service is top notch!

Discotea, Emmett's diagnosis is terrifying. He's now involved in an experimental study that shows promise. Plus lots of praying is happening.
Rockwood
Rockwoodlink
Tuesday, October 13, 2015 12:33 PM
Buy one of these:

http://www.harborfreight.com/automotive-motorcycle/bottle-jacks/12-ton-hydraulic-heavy-duty-bottle-jack-69476.html

And toss it in your Motorhome. It's what we use for the toy hauler, and my new (to me) 32' Class C since most floorjacks won't budge a 14,500lb RV...
nissannx
nissannxlink
Tuesday, October 13, 2015 1:03 PM
Steve, I have been thinking about picking up a jack like that - price is great too! Thank you for sending me the link. And I love new (to us) RVs. Save a bundle and usually tons of life left!

I've just completed a trip from Waterloo, ON, entered the US at Port Huron and then visited Mt Rushmore, Custer State Park, Yellowstone National Park and Old Faithful, and then on to the Pacific Ocean and then Sumas, WA and Abbotsford, BC. 4900 kilometres and the RV was perfect. The repaired suspension made handling a dream! And yes, this is the second trip to the Pacific coast this year! I'm supporting the gasoline industry! ;) Really glad for my 5 Star tune now! It's more than paid for itself in savings on fuel - let alone the other benefits!
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