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Old 01-18-2013, 12:30 PM   #1
OPEN ROAD TUNING
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Default Suby's on air ride TECH thread!






At the request of the administrative staff of NASIOC and by several moderators, we at OPEN ROAD TUNING have taken it upon ourselves to start a technical thread pertaining to air suspension and air ride.

While this is a 'newer' product for the Subaru market, it has been around for years within a multitude of enthusiast communities.

Here is a short Q&A section on the basic components of an air ride system. Please keep in mind this is not a reflection of the entire system, just a small smattering!


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Q: What should I buy, 4 valves or 8 valves?

A: Three years ago, you probably would have had us saying ‘buy a simple four valve setup’. While we still stand behind the ‘less is more’ theory, over the last three years the number of four way (eight valve) systems on the market has probably doubled. As of late, we’ve been very impressed with AccuAir products. When it comes down to the number of valves, we prefer eight over four purely for ride control and the fact that it is much less ‘floaty’ through the corners than a four valve setup. Although, a properly designed four valve setup will handle very well.

Q: AccuAir, what’s the hype?

A: We feel that AccuAir shares a similar approach but specializes in the management end of the game. They have developed quite possibly the best system to hit the market in the last ten years – the e-Level. The e-Level setup really trumps every management kit out there – in function, form and ease of use. The e-Level is a height based management setup [using leveling sensors at each wheel] that really allows an unparalleled level of driving. The e-Level setup is truly state of the art in everything – from the way the kit is installed and programmed to the user interface. It's truly a mind blowing experience – it'll leave you wanting to drive your car all the time.

Our favorite feature is the patented RideMonitor mode. This is a feature which constantly measures how far ‘out of whack’ your ride height is – if you have been on an uneven surface for more than forty-five seconds while driving the system will correct the height automatically to keep it within spec of the preset. And yes, it’s very accurate. Actually, it’s so accurate that it will keep a vehicle balanced 50/50 from front to back. Oh, and did we mention that you can corner balance your car with the e-Level? Safe to say, this is our preferred management kit – actually, we love anything AccuAir.

e-Level not your brand of vodka? Get your hands on the new SwitchSpeed from AccuAir! We have been so gaga over the SwitchSpeed we actually had it on two of our demo vehicles last season. The SwitchSpeed management package allows the user control over the manifold timing. What we’re saying is that it’s like having built in flow controls with this technology they call Burst Control. It allows you to program the timing of the solenoids – when they open and close and how fast they open and close. Just like the e-Level, it’s easy to install, easy to program and great to use!

Q: I keep seeing DOT when I look at air ride, what does that mean?

A: DOT stands for Department of Transportation. Specific fittings, tanks and air equipment meets or exceeds the standards put in place by the Department of Transportation.

Q: What's the difference between FB and FBSS systems?

A: Front/Back systems or 2 way systems as they're commonly called, are systems which allow the user to control the corners in pairs. Front left and right collectively and rear left and right collectively. Front/Back/Side/Side systems or 4 way systems are they're commonly called allow the user to control each corner individually.


Q: NPT or PTC, what am I looking at!?

A:NPT is short for National Pipe Thread. When selecting air ride fittings and equipment, it's important to understand that not all thread pitches are the same. Thus, not all fittings will work together. PTC is short for Push To Connect. PTC fittings are meant to accept specific sizes of air line (dependent upon the PTC size). PTC fittings seal the airline to the fitting using an o-ring which is located inside the fitting itself. The collet (located on the outside of the fitting) is a important part of a PTC fitting. The collet not only locks the air line in place, but it tightens as pressure in the line is increased.

Q: Loctite, teflon, what do I use?

A: After almost four years of selling air ride, we've made the switch – it's definitely for the better. In the past, we would have said buy a roll of Teflon tape and get to work. The problem with Teflon tape is that it often deteriorates over time and can break into small pieces. These small pieces can actually jam your valves or manifold. Not only can they jam your valves or manifold, they can actually damage your system. For this reason, we have moved using Loctite 565 exclusively.

Q: Pressure based or height based systems, what do I buy?

A: For us, the decision is simple - height based, always. Pressure based systems are air management systems which are reliant on pressures to achieve ride height. Pressure based system are extremely inaccurate and typically have an accuracy of +/- 5psi - don't know if we'd call that accurate. The biggest downfall of pressure based systems is their ability (or inability) to keep an accurate height at all corners of the vehicle. When weight is added to a vehicle, the air spring (bag) is compressed and the pressure sensor senses that the pressure has increased. While, actually, the only thing that has happened is the fact that you've added weight to the vehicle. The pressure based system will automatically auto-correct and lower the pressure in order to keep it within the preset spec. The problem lowering the pressure is now your vehicle is lower than before -- this means you can damage fenders, tires, wheels, etc. We believe that height based systems are the best way to manage your air springs. The AccuAir e-Level system uses height sensors mounted at each corner of the vehicle to measure height (and voltage) to keep the system within the desired preset spec. Believe it or not, the e-Level system can keep your vehicle height accurate within 1/8" of your desired preset.

Q: What is compressor duty cycle?

A: Compressor duty cycle is the amount of time that a compressor can be run in a full cycle (typically an hour) that includes the compressors run time and rest time. It's important to note that Viair compressors are equipped with a thermal overload protector to protect the compressor.

Q: If I think my system is leaking, how do I check?

A: Check for leaks by spraying a soap and water solution on your fitting connections. If you notice any bubbles which grow in size, you have found a leak. ORT recommends the use of Loctite 565.

Q: Analog management? Digital management?

A: That's really a tough question. We feel that digital management is MUCH more stable and reliable than it once was. That being said, it's really a personal preference. Analog management typically uses a switchbox to operate the valves and actually the switchbox is often wired directly to the valves or manifold. Whereas digital management often uses an ECU/ECM to control the function of the valves. Most people associate digital management with system such as the AccuAir e-Level or RidePro e3.

Q: What size air line should I run?

A: Another question that is very much dependent on how you want your system to function. On most vehicles, 3/8" line works perfectly. While some people say that it's too fast, we prefer to be able to air up quickly in case of an obstacle in the road. Did you know that 3/8" line is actually 3/8" outer diameter and 1/4" inner diameter?

Q: One or two compressors?

A: While we've had both single pump and dual pump setups on our shop cars, we prefer dual pump setups -- for the sake of reliability. While a dual pump setup will cost you more money up front, it will prove to be more reliable and refill faster. Faster refill times mean less time the pumps run and less noise! We have had pumps die on us without much notice and for that reason we side with using a dual pump setup.

These are some of the basic questions we get asked on a regular basis and we felt it would help our customers (as well as us) if we shared some of the answers!

Please DO NOT hesitate to reach out to us regarding any and all air ride questions. We're more than happy to assist you with everything air ride related!

Contact Information:

E: info@openroadtuning.com
P: 610.572.2898
FB: http://www.facebook.com/openroadtuning
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Old 01-18-2013, 12:43 PM   #2
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Great info right here! ORT took good care of me for all of my air needs. They also have provided great education on the subject as well as other car related subjects.
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Old 01-18-2013, 12:56 PM   #3
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can you run different spring rates (air pressure) while maintaining the same ride height with an air system?
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Old 01-18-2013, 01:11 PM   #4
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The simple answer to that question is no, you cannot.

However, with the design of the AirLift Performance Series struts, you are able to adjust the damping! Which will give you a canyon carving stiff ride at the turn of a knob
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Old 01-20-2013, 02:18 PM   #5
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Can you explain why you would run dual 444C compressors vs. dual 400C or even dual 380C?
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:51 PM   #6
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Definitely would be happy to help you understand the differences between the compressors.

The common misconception with kits these days is that the included compressor in an off the shelf kit is going to be the best compressor for the application. It's important that as a consumer, you dissect your kit and understand each individual component. The compressor serves as a vital part of the system as it is essentially the backbone of the system!

At ORT we have always believed in providing people with the best products even if it means you'll have to spend a little more money from the start. Each of our management kits and complete kits includes a 400c compressor with the option of upgrading to dual compressors or you can always remove the compressor if you've already purchased one elsewhere.

The difference between the three pumps are size of the motor, amp draw, fill speed and duty cycle. It's important to keep in mind that the duty cycle is the amount of time that a compressor can run over the course of a 60 minute period. Thus, a 33% duty cycle compressor will run 33% of an hour before it needs to cool off and then restart. Therefore, a 100% duty cycle compressor will be able to run for 100% of an hour before it needs to shut down and cool off.

Another thing that is important to keep in mind is that 100% duty cycle compressors are a bit quieter than the 33% duty cycle compressors. However, the best comparison/analogy that we've come up with is that the 400c compressor (33%) is like a sprint runner -- it will run the race as fast as possible but it will get hot very quickly. The 444c or 480c is more like a marathon runner which will take its time and run the race at a steady pace and not get as hot nor need a rest as quickly as the 400c.

Hope this helps clear up any confusion!
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Old 01-22-2013, 11:56 AM   #7
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Before anyone attempts to derail the thread or post anti-lowering / anti-airbag comments in here...

That will not be tolerated. This will exist for the discussion and question/answer of lowering a Subaru with air bags. If you don't have questions or don't want to discuss this topic I suggest you turn around and leave. Those who come in here just to troll will receive an instant 2 week "time out" (ban) from the site. Don't be d-bags.
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Old 01-22-2013, 08:58 PM   #8
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Thank you!
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Old 01-23-2013, 11:57 AM   #9
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Andrew, great info on the Viair compressors! Thanks for the assistance. I'm thinking 444c is the route to go for something quite.
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Old 01-24-2013, 03:35 PM   #10
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No problem man, thanks for your support!
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:52 PM   #11
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subscribed...I consider myself relatively well versed when it come to air ride but I'm sure I will find some venerable information or hopefully help someone out. Good job ORT for setting up the thread with some solid info!
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Old 01-25-2013, 11:29 AM   #12
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Thanks for the good words!

While we consider ourselves well versed, we're always learning new things. This industry grows and changes on a weekly basis!

Let us know if you have any questions, we're here to support the enthusiast community!
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Old 01-25-2013, 01:14 PM   #13
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Great idea on having this thread!

I'm slowly getting into the Performance Technical Support here at Air Lift so hopefully in a short period of time I can chime in with support.
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Old 01-25-2013, 04:36 PM   #14
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I have a grasp around the idea of air ride as I have been around bagged trucks my whole life, but I always remember them being broken, I know there have been advances in this field and that is what spurs my next question. I have done the old ways of air ride, but I am soon to buy a 68 Porsche 912 as my "good gas mileage" car, and I want to put it on air. The problem is there is not a "car specific application" for that car.

So I am curious as to what will be enough for that car, its a light weight car, and I'm not looking for a quick system, just something I can lift the car with while cruising down the road. I was thinking one viair, but do not want to over work the compressor, so my next thought was 2 smaller viair with two separate tanks, so basically I would be running the front off of one tank/pump and the rear off of the other using 3/8 hose.

I would love to hear your feedback on this issue, I was actually going to start my own thread but your answered a lot of my questions in the first post. You can either pm me or post here, whichever is best for you.

Thank you in advance.
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Old 01-26-2013, 12:16 AM   #15
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Glad to see you get this going Andrew!
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Old 01-27-2013, 09:08 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HonduhPowa View Post
Great idea on having this thread!

I'm slowly getting into the Performance Technical Support here at Air Lift so hopefully in a short period of time I can chime in with support.
Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dburgoon View Post
I have a grasp around the idea of air ride as I have been around bagged trucks my whole life, but I always remember them being broken, I know there have been advances in this field and that is what spurs my next question. I have done the old ways of air ride, but I am soon to buy a 68 Porsche 912 as my "good gas mileage" car, and I want to put it on air. The problem is there is not a "car specific application" for that car.

So I am curious as to what will be enough for that car, its a light weight car, and I'm not looking for a quick system, just something I can lift the car with while cruising down the road. I was thinking one viair, but do not want to over work the compressor, so my next thought was 2 smaller viair with two separate tanks, so basically I would be running the front off of one tank/pump and the rear off of the other using 3/8 hose.

I would love to hear your feedback on this issue, I was actually going to start my own thread but your answered a lot of my questions in the first post. You can either pm me or post here, whichever is best for you.

Thank you in advance.
Definitely would love to help you out, shoot us an email: info@openroadtuning.com and we can start brainstorming for your project!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazymonk88 View Post
Glad to see you get this going Andrew!
Thanks Brad!
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Old 02-01-2013, 07:58 AM   #17
ocdpvw
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dburgoon View Post
I have a grasp around the idea of air ride as I have been around bagged trucks my whole life, but I always remember them being broken, I know there have been advances in this field and that is what spurs my next question. I have done the old ways of air ride, but I am soon to buy a 68 Porsche 912 as my "good gas mileage" car, and I want to put it on air. The problem is there is not a "car specific application" for that car.

So I am curious as to what will be enough for that car, its a light weight car, and I'm not looking for a quick system, just something I can lift the car with while cruising down the road. I was thinking one viair, but do not want to over work the compressor, so my next thought was 2 smaller viair with two separate tanks, so basically I would be running the front off of one tank/pump and the rear off of the other using 3/8 hose.

I would love to hear your feedback on this issue, I was actually going to start my own thread but your answered a lot of my questions in the first post. You can either pm me or post here, whichever is best for you.

Thank you in advance.
That would be a great project! I'm sure ORT has plenty of solutions for this application. I know Air Lift has a fair amount of universal parts as well for the suspension portions of it, but Andrew is a great resource for the air management side.
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:22 PM   #18
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We do have plenty of solutions and we have plenty of resources at our disposal!

Not to mention we're always looking to get involved in new/different projects.
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Old 02-09-2013, 08:04 PM   #19
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Hey guys! I have a little question for you...Every time I air up I am getting a popping noise, sometimes it comes from one side of the front of the car, and sometimes both. I'm thinking it may be the sway bar, what do you guys think? I know it is a pretty broad description of the situation. But, I'm thinking if I loosen the sway bar brackets a little and then re tighten it. I may be able to fix the popping noise. I have already checked all my other bolts under the car and I know nothing is binding there.

Thanks gents
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:34 PM   #20
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Bizdorky, thanks for your question!


Is your popping sound coming from the front? Chances are it's the double bellow bag unfolding. However, please give us a few more details on the location of the noise so we can best help you!

Thanks!
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Old 02-14-2013, 02:43 AM   #21
champwhteek
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DOes anyone know how to get the 05 STI front to get lower because it seems like the tire is hitting the wheel well but not sure. the rear is tucked perfectly i just need to get lower in the front
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:21 PM   #22
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First you will have to notch the frame above the axle to give it room to go down without hitting the axle, and with wheel well clearance issues the only thing to do it either heat the spot where the tire sits and hit it with a sledge hammer till it doesn't stick out anymore, or you can cut it out and box weld it (tub it)
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Old 02-20-2013, 05:20 PM   #23
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As Tscharf said, you can box or tub the fenders.

However, there are some pieces of the frame that you can cut (and reinforce) that will not damage the car structurally.
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