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Chevy Camaro Air Ride Suspension - Hittin' Switches And Layin' Out

Air Ride Technologies suspension system for 4th Gen Camaros

By Dakota Wentz, Photography by Dakota Wentz

What's cooler than hittin' switches? Don't believe me, check this out. How many of you out there have office chairs that adjust up and down? Now how many of you have set the chair as high as it goes, and then pulled on the lever acting like you were in a Lo-Lo or a bagged car? Exactly, guilty as charged! It's just cool to hit switches, and that goes if you're in the in the car doing it, or just looking at a laid out car. On top of that there's still a handful of other benefits to running an air-bagged car. In the past bagged cars were seen as something totally for looks, not for performance or ride quality, but the truth is that an air-bagged car can be the full package and more, especially an Air Ride Technologies equipped 4th Gen Camaro.

When it comes to running an Air Ride Technologies system there are several benefits. For starters, you have the ability to adjust the ride height at any time with the flick of a button. And for any of you who have ever driven a lowered 4th Gen, then you know all about the turn to the left turn to the right routine when its time to pull into a driveway, or dip just to keep the Pinocchio like nose from scraping. With a little air those days are long gone. On the performance side of things, the bags perform above and beyond. With the option of running various air pressures the user is controlling the rate of the spring, which is crucial for fine tuning at a track day or autocross event. Taking things one step further the Camaro kit uses an Air Ride Technology AirStrut, a one-piece air bag and shock absorber setup. For even more fine tuning the AirStrut features a 12-way adjustable knob to control the stiffness of the shock absorber. That means the knob can adjust the AirStrut for ride quality or it can be bumped up for more aggressive driving. Speaking of ride quality, the air bags ride awesome. They don't bounce all over the place, yet they aren't too soft to where it feels like a floating '72 Caddy. When it comes to the Air Ride Technologies kit you really can't go wrong. They have spent time engineering the kit to include factors such as performance and ride quality, as opposed to just the convenient, and cool factor of an air bag system.

For the 4th Gen Camaros Air Ride Technologies has a complete system. Up front the AirStrut takes the place of the factory coilover setup. The AirStrut bolts right in using all the factory mounting points. In the back Air Ride has designed a simple bracket that mounts the F9000 air spring in place of the factory coil spring. The third part of the system is the compressor system. Air Ride offers several different systems; we decided to go with the new RidePro e 2 system. The RidePro e 2 system is an electronic compressor control system. The system features new voltage based air pressure sensors that electronically read bag pressures and air tank pressure. The system also features a ride-height-on-start function, which means when the vehicle is started the system will automatically raise the car to the highway ride height preset on the controller. The system has three user programmable one touch ride height presets, the second preset is the highway preset, that are accessed via the control panel. On top of that all of the wires feature plug-n-play weatherproof OEM style connectors.

At first thought one might think installing an air ride system would consist of a lot of slicing and dicing, but the truth is the Air Ride Technologies system is 100% bolt-in. In fact the front install is easier than putting in a set of drop springs! All you do is bolt the kit in, plug in a few wires, tap into an ignition wire and air the car up. Ideally, the kit can be installed in a day, but we'd have to say go ahead and slot in two days to do the install, and that's at most. For our install we headed out to Hot Rides by Dean in Moorpark, CA. Owner Dean Sears has been around since the start of the Air Ride craze, which made his shop the perfect candidate to ensure a clean, safe and long lasting install in our 4th Gen guinea pig.

The upper A-arm mount needs to be removed from the OEM coilover. When removing the mount be sure to use a spring compressor on the spring, otherwise have 911 on speed dial because odds are someone is bound to get seriously hurt. If you don't have one make a trip to the local shop, it shouldn't be but a small fee for them to disassemble the coilover.

The AirStrut also uses this bracket to mount up as well, but first the opening in the top of the mount needs to be opened up using a 7/16" drill bit for the upper stud mount of the AirStrut to fit through.

Then the OEM mount is bolted to the AirStrut just like it was to the OEM coilover

Before John installed the AirStrut, he installed the air fitting using just a little bit of Teflon for a secure air tight fit.

The best thing about installing the AirStrut is you don't have to compress a single spring, or set the ride height like you do with a coilover, all you do is bolt the AirStrut to the lower A-Arm and then install the upper A-arm and mounting bracket and your work is done.

Installing the F9000 air spring in the rear is just as simple. Start by placing a jack, or some kind of support underneath the rear end. Then remove the lower shock bolt on the axle, and the upper shock nuts located inside the trunk. By pulling back the trunk deck carpet you can get to the nuts.

With both of the shock absorbers lowered the rearend will drop down just enough to remove the rear springs.

Once the springs are out, bolt the rear Air Ride bracket to the F9000 air spring. Also at this time insert the air fittings, and rear air lines. The air lines install by sliding them into the fittings and that's it. They stay in place through pressure; the only way to remove the air lines is to pull the metal sleeve on the fittings forward removing the pressure from the air lines.

Next up place the F9000 air spring, with the bracket installed, up into the rear spring pocket area. The upper bracket uses the shock to mount between the underside of the chassis and the shock, but the side of the bracket bolts to the inner fender. Make the according marks, on the inner fender where the side tab on the bracket is.

With the marks made drill a hole in the inner fender and reinstall the air spring setup and shock, this time bolt the bracket in place.

Once the air spring is installed place the bags over the spring perches on the axle housing. Due to the F9000's tapered design the bottom of the bags are held in place by pressure.

With all four air bags installed John at Hot Rides began running the air lines, we started up front by inserting the air line into the fittings on the AirStrut.

By the way, we used some red air line that Hot Rides had, to differentiate between the front air lines and rear airlines. (We're going to use black air line for the rear)

John started on the front driver's side. He ran the air line along the rear of the inside inner fender by using these zip ties with mounting holes and sheet metal screws. First off he would drill a couple of holes in the inner fender.

Then he screwed the zip ties into the holes using sheet metal screws and lastly zip tie the line in place, but not to tight because he didn't want to pinch an air line.

Because John is going to mount the air tank in the rear of the car he ran the air line towards the inside rear of the car. There is a hole, as pictured, just above the lower control arm.

On the passenger side it was the same story, only this time John ran the airline towards the front of the car and then over to the passenger side to meet up with the other air line. There are multiple places to run the air line here, and any one of them will work fine...however you do it you must remember to keep the air line away from moving parts and hot parts, such as control arms and exhaust pipes, because a tear or hole in the line isn't going to be fun for anyone.

For some added security up front John covered the line in plastic shielding.

Once both air lines met up they were ran to the back of the car until they met up with the rear driver side air line.

The plan here is to run the lines along the inside of the inner fender lip. John drilled holes along the edge of the lip, and then zip tied the two front lines along with the rear line to holes.

The air tank is going to be mounted inside the trunk, so John needed to find a place to bring the air lines inside the car. Just behind the driver side wheel well is a rubber grommet that goes directly into the truck, by making a slight slit in the grommet the air lines were pushed up into the trunk.

On the passenger side the air line was run along the inner fender lip as well.

Then we pulled down the gas tank shield and ran the line inside of it over to the rubber grommet. For some added protection we covered the air line in vacuum hose.

Inside the trunk, just to the left, is a little compartment that will work great for mounting our RidePro solenoid box. The solenoids come pre-wired for an easy plug-n-play installation. We drilled two holes into the trunk, but didn't mount the box just yet.

On the correct side, that says delivery, install the air line fittings using a small amount of Teflon on the fittings.

On the other side of the block screw in the air pressure sensors using Teflon as well.

On the remaining sides of the block there are two fittings labeled exhaust and supply, these are the air inlets that run to the air tanks. Because we are only going to use one tank we blocked off one of the supply inlets, on the other we installed the air line fitting in the supply fitting.

Next up the airlines were installed into the solenoid fittings we just installed. Then the appropriate wire plug was plugged into the coordinating air sensor. Each one of the plugs is labeled right front, left rear and so on, so be sure to match up the coordinating plug with the correct air line. At this time we also connected the remaining plugs to the solenoid box and fastened down the box.

John mounted the air tank to the bottom of the trunk by drilling holes to match the mounting bracket holes on the tank. But before the tank was installed he installed the tank fittings.

The same went for the air compressor.

Then an airline was hooked up from the compressor to the tank, and then from the tank to the solenoid supply valve.

With everything hooked up the last thing on the agenda was to finish up the electrical work. The RidePro controller is much more convenient when mounted close to the driver, therefore all of the sensor wires and power wires were ran to the Air Ride brain, which John mounted under the dash, along the back seat and rocker panel.

Once the wires were up front John tapped into an ignition wire for power, and then plugged in the correlating plugs to the brain.

Once the wires were up front John tapped into an ignition wire for power, and then plugged in the correlating plugs to the brain.

The last thing to do is plug in the remote to the brain and mount it. Then turn the key, let the tank air up, and start hittin' switches!

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By Dakota Wentz
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