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Ford F150 Air Ride Suspension Kit: Overview Guide

Ford F150 Air Ride Suspension Kit: Overview Guide

Trucks are designed for hauling and towing heavy loads, but doing so on your F150’s stock suspension might make for a miserable experience. Bottoming out on rough roads, trailer sway, poor braking, and steering—you name it—are issues that might force pickup drivers to shy away from putting their workhorse to its true use. Investing in an air ride suspension kit can work miracles for the overall ride quality of your Ford F150, especially while towing. The cost of an air ride suspension kit is relatively inexpensive, so pulling the trigger on an air ride suspension is a no-brainer. Like any upgrade, there are lots of options. To assist, we have put together a guide to educate you about air ride suspension, and help you determine which kit will fit your F150’s needs.

Shop F150 Air Ride Suspension Systems

Air ride kits are not just for low riders. Air ride kits let you adjust your F150's ride height on the fly, allowing you to eliminate the factory rake for towing purposes, and increase ride height for off-road ventures.

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What is Air Ride Suspension?

Air ride suspension is a system of air springs (also known as air bags) and air lines that work in conjunction with existing leaf and coil systems to improve the ride quality of your F150. In years past, air ride suspension was mainly used on buses and semi-trucks, but advantages have been found on pickup trucks, especially while hauling or towing heavy loads.

Benefits of Air Ride Suspension

Improved overall ride quality:  Skipping, chattering, and bottoming out because of bumps on the road is downright annoying. Air ride suspension can improve the ride quality of your F150 by providing support to your existing suspension components for a level, smooth ride. 

More towing capability: Your F150 is “Built Ford Tough,” right? Of course, but what if we could make it even more solid, and eliminate the concern of hauling heavy loads once and for all? Air springs have the capability of providing leveling capacity of up to 5,000 pounds, meaning you can haul or tow heavy loads while keeping your workhorse from squatting, so long as the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) are not exceeded.

Properly aimed headlights: Hauling a heavy load will typically cause the rear end of your truck to squat, pointing your headlights towards the sky. Aside from not being able to see the road, you’ll have fellow drivers flashing their high beams at you all night long. Using air spring suspension will level the truck, and will better point the headlights in the proper direction. Note: this is only true if you don’t use the air suspension to lift your truck.

 

More even tire wear: Heck, it’s no fun replacing the tires on your truck in the first place. If you burn through your tread extra quickly because you haul or tow heavy loads, you’re just lighting your hard-earned money on fire. Buying an air spring kit is a relatively inexpensive investment, and will help improve the tire wear on your F150 by equalizing the loads distributed to each wheel.

Better braking and steering: The front end of your F150 takes care of the majority of the braking and steering that you ask of it, but its capabilities get compromised when heavy loads force the rear end to squat down. By raising the pressure in your air springs, you can optimize your pickup’s ride height to improve its steering and braking distances.

Less trailer sway: Trailer sway is ‚Äča sketchy business. Air springs work their magic while towing by allowing for exact alignment between the tow vehicle and trailer. 

Adjustable air springs: The beauty of air spring suspension is being able to tailor its set up to perform exactly to the needs of your F150. Hauling a lot? Pump some air into the springs to better support the rear end. If you’re light on cargo, decrease the pressure and set the truck at a level height.

Air Ride Suspension Considerations

Not every air ride suspension kit is created equal. Although they all perform the same job, there are some things you should consider before plunking down cash.

Your budget: Nearly every air ride suspension kit is a reasonably-priced upgrade for your pickup, but some are pricier than others. The cost can fluctuate hundreds of dollars depending on the provided features, and extras like onboard leveling systems and internal jounce bumpers can drive that cost up further. 

How much weight you are hauling or towing: A truck is meant to tow, haul, and get the job done, but having the heftiest kit available isn’t always necessary. Choose the package that suits the needs of your truck. Hauling a lot? Sturdy kits can provide up to 5,000 pounds of leveling capacity‚Äč while including internal jounce bumpers. Other kits may provide only 2,000 pounds of support, but that’s not to say they aren’t the perfect fit for your lifestyle.

Kits with Internal Jounce Bumpers

Buying an air spring kit with an internal jounce bumper is like buying added insurance for your truck’s chassis. Jounce bumpers, which are typically constructed of closed-cell urethane foam, are found inside the air spring, and protect your vehicle from ever bottoming out and causing damage to the spring. This will let you safely drive your F150 for a limited time should the air spring lose all of its pressure.

Ford F150 Air Ride Suspension Installation

Need to get back to hauling and towing in a hurry? Installing an air ride suspension is a quick process—it’s said to be a sub two-hour job for a savvy home mechanic. With most kits, drilling is not required.

Maintaining your Air Ride Suspension

Put your worries about the durability of air ride suspension to rest—as long as air pressure is maintained, air springs should last indefinitely. Periodic inspections for damage like rubbing marks or other abnormalities such as misalignment are still a good idea.

 

Onboard Leveling Systems

Onboard air spring leveling systems are tricky, allowing on-the-fly adjustments to the air pressure in your springs. Forget killing your momentum to level your pickup once and for all.

Leveling kits are sold with onboard compressors—which mount on the inside frame rail under the F150—along with required harnesses, sensors, and control units. Once installed, you’ll be able to use the control unit to increase or decrease air spring pressure to your desired setting while driving.

This is particularly useful in changing road or weather conditions, especially in terms of safety. By making a slight change to your air pressures, you can increase stability and the ride quality of your F150.

Smart Leveling Systems

“Smart” leveling systems inflate or deflate the air springs automatically to ensure your truck is always level. The system works with provided magnetic height sensors to detect if the springs need adjustments, and will do its job accordingly.

Single Path vs. Dual Path Systems

A dual path leveling system allows for each air spring to be adjusted individually to any pressure at any given time, while a single path system only allows for pressure to be adjusted to both spring rates at the same time.

Fitment includes: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, XL, XLT, Lariat, Lightning, KingRanch, HarleyDavidson, STX, FX2, FX4, Limited, SVTRaptor, Platinum, FXTremor