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Frequently Asked Questions

Shock and Coilover Questions

Air Suspension

  • 1.) How much will this system lower my car?
    On most cars the highway ride height will be 2-4″ lower than stock. By deflating the system an additional 3-4″ of drop will be realized. On trucks the drop is typically more because trucks normally start out much higher. Most trucks will drop 4-6″ at ride height and 8-9″ fully deflated.
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  • 2.) How hard is it to install?
    It varies widely by application, but a bolt-on musclecar system can usually be installed in 12-15 hours for the actual undercar suspension components and an additional 10 hours for the compressor kit. Leveling sensors will add another 5-6 hours to the installation time.
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  • 3.) Which is better, CoolRide (airsprings) or ShockWaves?
    The ShockWave is simply a combination of an airspring and a shock absorber. The advantages are easier mounting, more tire clearance, better working angle for the shock and the airspring, and the inclusion of a high quality billet adjustable racing shock. In a perfect world an airspring and separate billet adjustable shock could accomplish the same performance, but it will usually come with more installation effort.
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  • 4.) How much air pressure should I run?
    The technically correct answer is whatever air pressure it takes to achieve the proper airspring installed height. On the rear of a lightweight street rod this may mean 40psi. On the front of a big block Chevelle it may mean 110psi. This is because of the difference in loads being imposed on the airspring. You are much more interested in running the airspring at its intended ride height than whatever air pressure may be required to get it there.
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  • 5.) My buddy had a friend who said his air ride system rode terrible…
    This could have several causes. Some people get addicted to the sexy look of a car dragging the ground. Unfortunately at that lowered level you have no suspension travel. to get any kind of civilized ride quality you simply must have adequate suspension travel which means you will have to raise the car to ride height. The opposite of this is the customer who installs an air suspension as a band-aid to cure a tire clearance problem. They have to over inflate the suspension to avoid rubbing the tires. With either scenario you must cure the real problem before you can hope to achieve a decent ride quality. If these 2 issues are not present then you may simply have to do some fine tuning. Air pressure should be set so the airspring (or ShockWave) is at its designed ride height (these dimensions are in this catalog). When this is achieved you can fine tune the air pressure in small increments (3-5psi) up or down. If in doubt about whether to inflate or deflate…add air. Most people try to run too little pressure because they like the way the car looks when lowered. If you are using ShockWaves you can also adjust your shock valving in 1 or 2 click increments. Just like with a performance engine…a little tuning can make a huge difference!
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  • 6.) Do I have to use an on-board compressor?
    Theoretically you could simply inflate the suspension with shop air and leave it at that. The problem with that is you sacrifice the largest benefit of an air suspension: adjustability. Without an on board compressor and control system there is no way to fine tune the system.
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  • 7.) Where do I set the adjustment knobs on the shocks?

    This is totally dependent of the vehicle and the drivers taste. With a single adjustable shock the knob affects the rebound valving only. Since air pressure is a reasonable indicator of vehicle weight we refer to it as a guideline for shock valving tuning. The more air pressure that is required to achieve ride height, the more the vehicle weighs, and the more rebound valving that is typically needed to achieve proper performance. In general we start at 1 click from full soft for every 10-15psi of air pressure. Fine tuning can be started at that point. On a double adjustable shock there are separate adjustments for rebound and compression valving. An air suspension usually likes more rebound resistance than compression resistance. We usually start with about 1 click of compression for every 35-40 psi of air pressure and 1 click of rebound for every 10-15 psi of air pressure. For example, if the rear of your car requires 60 psi to achieve ride height, start with the compression setting at 1 or 2 and the rebound at 4-5. If the front of your car requires 100psi, you may start at 2-3 on compression and 8-9 on rebound.
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  • 8.) What will this do to the front end alignment?
    Front end alignment is set at highway ride height. Actually alignment is easier to maintain with an air suspension than with a conventional suspension because you are able to compensate for any varying loads that would cause a conventional suspension to sag and loose alignment. Your alignment setting will obviously changewhen you deflate the suspension to lower it for parking, etc. but will return when the vehicle is returned to its highway ride height.
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  • 9.) How is the ride quality compared to coil springs or coilovers?
    The ride quality of an air suspension is typically much better because the driver is able to quickly tune the load capacity of the airspring to the exact load of the vehicle and their driving style.
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  • 10.) How long will my system last?
    If you buy a pre-engineered air suspension system from a reputable manufacturer you can be assured that the components have a history of reliability.

    Firestone, for example, has tested their airspring design into the tens of millions of cycles… they project [and have proven] a lifespan of 40-50 years! Remember, these are the same components and construction methods that have been used on trucks and busses for the last 70 years. 97% of all large trucks use airsprings as the primary suspension component. The most common problem that we see here is air leaks. This is nearly always caused by improper installation. The simple use of thread sealer on the fittings [like it says in the instructions] will prevent 90% of all leaks. Making sure the airline is cut off cleanly before installation into the fitting will prevent another 9% of leaks. The only other place that could possibly leak would be an airvalve if it gets any assembly debris or teflon tape in the orifice. Although it is theoretically possible for an airspring or ShockWave to leak, in 15 years I haven’t found one that actually leaks yet.

    A common question from customers is “what happens when a bag blows?” The only thing that will hurt an airspring is abrasion. If you let it rub on anything it will fail very quickly. Other situations to be aware of would be the proximity of the exhaust [leave at least 2 inches] and using grommets to run airline and wiring through.
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  • 11.) What is the most common installation error?
    READ the instructions! We’ve recently printed new envelopes for our instructions. They read, in 3″ tall letters: DO NOT OPEN. Hopefully this reverse psychology will get the customers to actually open and read the instructions!
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  • 12.) What will an air suspension NOT do?

    • 1 – Air suspension WILL NOT cure tire clearance problems. Airsprings AND suspension have a particular ride height that has been designed into those systems. The farther you deviate from that ride height the more the performance is compromised. Many times a poor ride quality problem is caused by overinflating the airsprings so the tires don’t rub. The solution is to cure the tire clearance problem so the airspring and the suspension can be operated at its intended ride height.
    • 2 – You can’t drive the car on the ground. I know it looks cool, but you simply must have adequate suspension travel to get proper performance and a civilized ride quality. This is the biggest cause of poor ride quality complaints.
    • 3 – Air suspension will not cure a car that has been built too low. Even if the airsprings are run at their intended ride height you will compromise the vehicles performance by operating the suspension above its intended ride height. Most OEM suspensions induce a fair amount of positive camber when extended [lifted] which typically hinders handling performance even if you can achieve anything close to proper alignment settings. By contrast many OEM suspensions induce negative camber when lowered. Unless taken to extreme this can actually help handling performance.

    We’ve had some people question why they would want an air suspension when they can tune a conventional suspension to achieve the same results for less money. We agree that a good suspension tuner can eventually select the proper combination of components to dial in nearly any car for nearly any type of performance. The big difference with air suspension is the fact that you can achieve these results much quicker. Most people run out of time and patience before trying enough combinations to optimize their vehicles.

    With an air suspension and adjustable shocks suspension, tuning is accomplished by pushing buttons to change air pressure and twisting a dial on the shocks to change shock valving. Results are achieved in seconds or minutes instead of hours or days. This means that you can drive your vehicle to the autocross with a nice compliant ride quality and by spending a few minutes adjusting air pressure and shock valving optimize its performance on the track. When its time to drive home after a long hot day of racing, just return to your highway settings and go home in comfort. This may not mean much to the trailered race cars but it is much more significant to the other 90% of us who drive to the track.

    What WILL mean something to the actual race cars is the ability to easily tune your vehicle to various [and changing] track conditions. Experienced drag racers know that when the sun goes down they can start over trying to optimize their rear suspension for traction.

    Experienced road racers know that their tires can change dramatically after a few heat cycles. In either case there may not be time to accomplish a lot of component changing to re-tune the vehicle. The benefits of an air suspension are obvious in these cases.

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Air Compressor Questions

  • 13.) I see compressor “kits” advertised for much less than yours… what’s the difference?
    This one is easy… DOT approved airline, DOT approved fittings, bubbletight, leakfree solenoids, weatherpak wiring connectors, completely assembled control panels, installation fasteners and terminals included. Don’t take our word for it, ask around. NO ONE ELSE uses the quality of components or includes all the details like Air Ride Technologies… period!
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  • 14.) What are the advantages and disadvantages of a “two way” vs. a “four way” compressor system?

    When air suspension was first introduced to the hotrod market in the mid 90’s the two way control system was the standard method of inflating and deflating the suspension. Very quickly it was learned that during cornering the outside, or loaded, airspring would attempt to transfer air to the inside, or unloaded airspring thereby magnifying body roll issues. This is where air suspension got its reputation for ill handling. Today we recommend [nearly demand] that a 4 way control system be used to control the air suspension. There are several benefits:

    • 1) It cures air transfer problems outlined above.
    • 2) It gives you the ability to level the vehicle. Most cars will require different air pressures from side to side to compensate for extra weight, suspension bind, or to overcome alignment changes as the vehicle is raising or lowering. [ever see a coilover car that didn’t need and extra turn or 2 on one of the coilovers?
    • 3) It raises the vehicle faster because you have 4 orifices flowing air instead of 2.

    At this point the only reason to use a 2 way system is if your vehicle has only 2 airsprings.
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  • 15.) What is the advantage of multiple compressors, multiple tanks, and larger airlines?
    In a nutshell… SPEED. The faster you want your vehicle to go up and down, the more air pressure and air volume it will require. For those of you who focus on ride quality and handling as the main benefits of the air suspension, there is no reason to invest the extra money in extra compressors and tanks, or for larger airlines. If you criteria is fast movement… then step up.
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  • 16.) If I want to speed up my compressor system, what should I do first?
    Probably the biggest bang for your buck would be an extra tank, followed by extra compressors and then by larger airline. If you are using the standard Thomas 150 psi compressor, we recommend one compressor for every 3 gallons of air reservoir capacity. The Viair 150 psi compressor will service approx. 5 gallons of capacity. If you exceed these recommendations, your compressor will work harder to refill the tank and the life expectancy will be shortened. We use 1/4″ DOT approved airline for our RidePro applications. The BigRed systems come standard with 3/8″ DOT airline. With airline… bigger IS better, but it can become more difficult to route and install properly.
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  • 17.) Why do you use a 33% duty cycle compressor instead of some of the more popular “100% duty cycle” units?
    These published duty cycles come with “fine print”. First of all, the 100% duty cycle units create much less air volume than the units that we offer. This means that they HAVE to run much longer to achieve the same amount of volume and pressure as ours. In addition, most of these “100% duty cycle” units are NOT sealed for protection against the environment. The motors are vented to run cooler and to allow the 100% rating. This means you have to mount them in a moisture and dirt protected location instead of being able to mount them under your truck or car. In addition to all of this, we have our pressure switches built to our specs to trigger the compressor to come on earlier so it can refill the tank quicker. In the real world, this means our 150psi switch triggers the compressor to come on at 135 psi instead of 115-120psi. Our compressors will refill the tank quicker and run less. We have found this combination to be very successful.
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Air Control System Questions

Shock and Coilover Questions

  • 24.) Why is a monotube shock better than a twin tube shock?
    The monotube design incorporates a larger diameter piston. A larger piston is more effective at controlling the oscillations of your suspension. The monotube design also incorporates a less complex fluid flowpath. This allows the shock to run at a lower oil temperature, again doing a better job at suspension control.

  • 25.) Does this mean that a twin tube shock is junk?
    Absolutely not. There are some very good twin tube shocks on the market. In general, they do an adequate job a controlling your suspension in an environment that is anywhere less than extreme.

  • 26.) Why do you use bearings in your mounts instead of bushings? I’ve heard that bearings make a lot of noise…

    • a. RideTech has spent a considerable amount of time finding a precision bearing that will stay tight and smooth in order to avoid the noise and harshness normally associated with a bearing mount. Cheap offshore bearings have all the sins you have heard about. Quality precision bearings offer a long life of smooth quiet operation.
    • b. A poly bushing will squeak, deteriorate, and generally fail in a loaded application such as a Shockwave or a coilover, especially on a heavy car.
    • c. A precision bearing adapts nicely to wide range of misalignment that may be present on OEM shock mounts. They will eliminate any side loading issues and extend the life and the performance of the shock.
  • 27.) What is the advantage of your delrin swivel ball stud top mounts?

    Over time we have discovered that a simple stem bushing mount that is found on nearly all other shocks tends to induce a significant side load through the piston rod. This leads to seal wear, extra friction, and sometimes even breakage. These issues are magnified on a “loaded” shock, such as a coilover or a ShockWave, where the entire weight of the vehicle is supported through the stud mount. RideTech developed the delrin swivel ball mount to eliminate this side loading. It has proven to be quiet, durable, reliable, and has eliminated any sideload problems.

  • 28.) Why are your shocks more expensive than some other brands?
    Many shocks on the market today were designed over 40 years ago. Many are built offshore. Many shock manufacturers do not offer the level of customer service and tech support that is necessary to properly resolve your suspension issues. RideTech shocks are a proven performance monotube design. We offer dedicated support in the areas of application selection, tuning and performance advice based on years of our personal driving and racing experience. We are in regular communication with customers, race teams, and manufacturing entities to make sure we stay on top of new performance developments.

  • 29.) Why are your shocks less expensive than some of the other brands?
    Two reasons…volume and market knowledge. Because RideTech addresses several markets…musclecars, streetrods, classic trucks, military applications, ATV’s, etc…many of which share at least some common components. This allows us to manufacture many of these components in volumes sufficient to realize a significant cost savings. In addition, we understand that MOST customers do not need every bell and whistle that an expensive single purpose racing shock might have to offer. Therefore we offer several different levels of performance shocks, each incorporating the features and benefits that are most appropriate for the intended application…without the frills that you would never be using. Bottom line, if you need an expensive, extreme performance shock…we’ve got that. If you don’t…we’ve got that too.

  • 30.) How do I figure out the best spring rate?
    There are a few good ways to accomplish this:

    • a. Use a ShockWave air suspension that has a VERY wide range of coverage for load capacity and spring rate. Then it is a matter of adjusting air pressure by the push of a button to achieve the intended ride height.
    • b. Call and draw on our real world experience to get an appropriate recommendation.
    • c. Spend the time to collect some ACCURATE weight and dimensional data from your own car to plug into our online spring rate calculator.
  • 31.) Are these shocks revalvable / rebuildable?
    Yes. We can revalve/rebuild them for you or we can sell you the rebuild kit so you can rebuild them yourself.

  • 32.) How often should I rebuild my shocks?

    • a. If you have a street car, or even a car that sees casual track time, you should be well over 100,000 miles from any of our monotube shocks.
    • b. If you have a true race car, rebuilding your shocks should be part of your annual maintenance checklist.
  • 33.) Why are your springs more expensive than some other brands?
    We use a high tensile cold wound, American made spring from Hyperco. The Hyperco spring has proven to offer a more stable spring rate with no degradation of height over time. It also uses a smaller diameter wire which allows more travel before coil bind. Hyperco continues to lead the industry in coilspring research and technology…the perfect partner for RideTech!

  • 34.) All of my friend’s street rods have a 3″ stroke shock with a 300lb spring on the back of their street rods. You recommend a 4″ or a 5″ stroke shock with a 175-200lb spring. How can you get away with such a radical recommendation?

    Longer shock and lighter spring = better ride quality. We accomplish this by first offering a billet lower shock mount that will drop the bottom of the shock 1″compared to most other lower shock mounts. Also, because the RideTech shocks have a longer threaded portion of the body, they are capable of using a longer coilspring than some other brands of shocks. A longer spring allows us to use a softer spring without fear of bottoming out. The last part of the equation is the better fluid control of the monotube design shock. This complete package offers a vastly improved ride quality…one that is controlled and compliant, not harsh and choppy.