Solenoid Valve Service
Thousands of RidePro (1/4″) and Big Red (3/8″) valves units are in service on all different types of vehicles. They have been used reliably in all different types of conditions for well over a decade. But as things go with any product that has moving parts, wear can occur over time.
We’ve developed this guide to help you better understand how your valves function in order to help you maintain and service the system. If you are experiencing an issue, read this guide to help you troubleshoot the carious components. We will also demonstrate the proper way to identify which valve you have and how to service that valve.
Valve design and function has been fairly consistent over the years with minor variations. All of the Ride Pro or Big Red valves have the same red anodized color on the aluminum base; they are also all identified by the white screen printing applied to the base.
You will notice that we refer to our control systems as either a 2-way or 4-way. What this is referring to is the number of air lines or air springs the system will control. The 2-way valve gives you control over 2 air lines(2 air springs) the 4-way valves give you control over 4 air lines (4 air springs). Each of our valve blocks contain all of the inflate and deflate valves you need for the system.
The first style we released was our 2-way Ride Pro valve; these are also referred to as a 4 station manifold, meaning there are 4 solenoid valves installed into the aluminum valve base. These were used exclusively for the first few years in either 2-way or 4-way systems. As time progressed and we moved into doing more 4-way control systems, we added the 4-way or 8 station manifold. Depending on when you purchased your system or what type of system you purchased, you would have received either of these types of valves. Inside of that, there are 2 different types of coils on the valve block.
The coil is the part of the solenoid valve that actuates the valve to open or stay closed. The 2 types of coils we use are either the round or square style. This is important to know as it will determine the design of the inner valve plunger should you need to replace it. When it comes to the Big Red style valves, there has always been just the one style. They are built as a 2 station block and are most commonly used as a 4-way system where all 4 of the 2 station blocks have been bolted together to form 1 assembly.
The function of the air valves is very simple. It allows the air from the tank to go into the air springs and then back out again into the atmosphere. The inflate side of the valve block will be labeled as DELIVERY; it is also in line with the SUPPLY ports that get air from the air tank.
The way our valves are designed to work is that the air in the tank has to be of a higher pressure than the air in the air springs in order to keep the inflate valve shut. This prevents the air in the air springs from back feeding into the tank and lowering the pressure in the air springs.
The other side of that means in order for the air to stay in the air springs, we have to keep constant pressure against the inflate valve, so if you ever lose tank pressure to the point that it drops below the pressure in the air springs, air will start to flow back into the air tank; thus lowering the pressure in the air springs and ultimately lowering the height of your vehicle. The deflate side of the valve block will have GAUGE labeling along the side and EXHAUST ports labeled on the ends.
The deflate valves work in similar fashion to the inflate side, whereas the pressure in the air springs forces the valve to stay shut until you activate the deflate switch in order to open the valve to release the air from the air springs.
It should also be noted that the ports for the SUPPLY and EXHAUST are straight through design to where the pressure is equal across the entire block. The same holds true on the ports that are labeled DELIVERY and GAUGE. These ports are corresponding to each other and have equal pressure across them. So keep that in mind when you are searching for a leak on those lines.
With this understanding of how the valves are designed to function, we can start to evaluate some of the issues that can arise in your system related to the valves. Most of the time, we see an issue where the pressure in the air springs continually rises past where you have set them; you are seeing a leaky inflate valve. This is the only cause for that type of problem. The air in the air tank is allowed to seep past the valve and continue to inflate the air spring. This happens when the plunger cannot properly seat in the valve block. Typically one of two things has occurred: 1. There is a piece of debris obstructing the sealing area or 2. The plunger tip has deformed from years of use and can no longer hold its proper form. In either of these cases, the fix is simple. We need to get into the valve and determine what the cause is.
Disassembly of the valve is another simple process. First, you will want to make sure that all of the pressure in the system has been relieved. Next, using a 9/16 wrench, remove the nut on top of the coil.
Once the nut is removed, the coil will slide right off and expose the metal stem in which the plunger resides.
To remove the stem, you can double nut the top of the stem; or, with a locking pliers, grab a hold of the stem and turn counter clockwise to unthread it from the aluminum base.
After the stem is removed, you will notice that the plunger assembly will simply fall out; this is normal. There will be a spring behind it, so please be careful not to lose it. When you have the plunger assembly free, inspect the inside of the valve block for any dirt or debris.
Clean anything foreign out of the way and reassemble; you should be good to go. If there isn’t any dirt or debris present, inspect the rubber tip of the plunger; you will notice a circular indentation on the end.
When the valve has been in service for a certain period of time, the indentation will become more pronounced, and eventually can lead to a sealing problem. If it has been determined that the plunger is the cause of the leak, we can replace it with a new unit to solve the problem.
Sometimes, you can run into an issue where the valve may not be leaking, but in fact not opening at all. This can be caused by the plunger “sticking” to the sealing surface due to a pronounced indentation on the rubber tip. At this point, what has happened is that the coil just doesn’t have quite enough power to pull the valve out of its seat. Replacing the plunger assembly will correct this problem.
In some rarer cases, it has been found that when a valve becomes inoperable, the electric coil can also be the problem. An easy way to determine if this is the part at fault is to simply swap the valve coil in question with one next to it.
When it has been determined that it is in fact the coil that is defective, we can replace it with a new one, as well. We will just need to know if you have Ride Pro or Big Red valves and what type of coil you have (square or round).
Parts for Ridetech Valve Blocks:
- Replacement Coil | Silver-Round | 1/4 Inch RidePro Valve $20.00
- Replacement Coil | Black-Square | 1/4 Inch RidePro Valve $20.00
- Replacement Plunger | Black-Square | 1/4 Inch RidePro Valve $15.00
- Replacement Plunger | Silver-Round | 1/4 Inch RidePro Valve $15.00
- Replacement Plunger Black-Square | 3/8 Inch | Big Red Valve $15.00
- 4-way Solenoid / Air Valve Block (Fittings not included) RidePro 1/4 Inch | $400.00
- 2-Way Solenoid / Air Valve Block (Fittings not included) RidePro 1/4 Inch | $250.00
- Replacement Stem and Plunger Kit | Silver-Round | 1/4 Inch RidePro Valve $25.00
- Replacement Stem and Plunger Kit | Silver-Round | 3/8 Inch BigRed Valve $30.00
- Replacement Coil | Silver-Round | 3/8 Inch Big Red Valve $50.00
- Replacement Coil | Black-Square | 3/8 Inch Big Red Valve $50.00
- 4-way Solenoid / Air Valve Block (Fittings not included) RidePro 3/8 Inch - BigRed | $700.00