Written By Hank O’Hop
Published Sep. 7, 2021

It really doesn’t matter how far automotive technology advances, air suspension will never not be cool or aid your vehicle’s functionality. And given these systems can literally transform the dynamic of your vehicle’s suspension on command, what’s not to love? Nor is it all that expensive or complicated to swap to when your ride’s springs begin to sag. It’s not free, but it can be shockingly affordable. That’s why we’re going to talk about some of our favorite options in the aftermarket, so stick around and we’ll set you up with the right air suspension kits, as well as everything you need to know in our buying guide to help you in your quest for suspension settings on demand.

The Best Air Suspension Kit

While quality is the main attraction, the ability to give the world’s best-selling vehicle the upper hand makes it a clear top pick.
We’re kicking off our list with an entry we think most people are considering, as this Firestone unit is a load lever suspension kit that gets the job done with air bellows. It just so happens to be an option for the best-selling vehicle in the world, the Ford F-150.

This system mounts to the rear of the truck to correct the rake a trailer or payload inspires. It installs with little more than basic hand tools and can level up to 5,000 pounds safely. Of course, it’s built with high-quality materials as well and Firestone knows that there’s no room for error and ensures this system will handle whatever you throw at it.

You will notice that this system doesn’t come with an air compressor, and that is an issue if you want to level your truck on command. Furthermore, it should be noted that there are fitment issues for those trucks with a fifth wheel hitch, and you need to know that before you buy this for hauling your trailer.

Specs
  • Manufacturer Firestone
  • Part Number 2582
  • Position on Vehicle Rear
PROS

High-quality construction

Relatively simple installation

Safely lifts up to 5,000 pounds

CONS

Does not include a compressor

Will not fit F-150s with fifth wheel

The affordable price point, exceedingly simple installation, and ability to correctly load up the suspension make this a go-to for many truck owners.
Another load leveling kit, though we’re talking about something a little less heavy-duty, the Air Lift air suspension system is for when you don’t need a super beefy system and hoping to save money.

This is a very affordable, well-built solution for those situations where you only need a little extra grunt for the rear end of your truck as it can help you squat an additional 1,000 pounds of payload or hitch weight, which is just right for small payloads and light trailers. On top of that, it installs in minutes as all you need is a pair of snips to clip off the unused portion of your zip ties, and you’re ready to roll.

Is it perfect? No. One thousand additional pounds isn’t that much and you might exceed that with a short trip to the local hardware store. Also, there is no air compressor included, and the fit and finish of the kit’s hardware does leave some to be desired.

Specs
  • Manufacturer Air Lift
  • Part Number 60818
  • Position on Vehicle Rear
PROS

Affordable price point

Simple installation

Quality construction of main components

CONS

Not the best fit and finish

Limited weight capacity

No compressor included

This is a comprehensive kit coming from a trusted supplier and it provides means to supply air to all four corners of the vehicle.
We’re breaking away from trucks to highlight a model you just might be able to squeeze under anything and it’s coming from Vixen, a company known for its air horns.

Now, that might sound odd, but that does mean the company knows a thing or two about compressed air and tells us the compressor, plumbing, bellows, and control systems are built to work. This is also the sole model on this list to include not one, but two, compressors and the controllers tapping into four bellows allow you to manipulate all four corners on the fly. Also, it comes with virtually all the hardware you’ll need to hook this up to your vehicle.

Now, this system is bulky, and that does mean space might prevent installation on some models. And though it says it’s good for towing, we’d say this system is better used for light-duty situations as no specifics are provided by Vixen on how much weight it can safely support.

Specs
  • Manufacturer Vixen
  • Part Number VXX1209FW4852DBF
  • Position on Vehicle Front and rear
PROS

Adds air bellows to all four corners

Includes compressor and controller to change settings on command

All plumbing and hardware included for installation

CONS

Air tank may be too large for many applications

Would not recommend for towing despite product’s claims to be suitable for it

Monroe is an OE quality brand that packs reliability and desirable functions into this affordable package.
Ask anyone from the golden age of muscle cars, and they’ll tell you they had air shocks on the rear of their street beast. Many folks will say they did it to get that stinkbug stance, but it’s also a great way to get that car launching like a rocket on command.

This option from Monroe bolts directly in place of the factory equipment on muscle cars and more late-model rides alike, and the only additional steps necessary surround routing the air valve system. Just like that, you’re ready to transform stance and performance on command, and it costs about the same as an OE set of shocks.

Even though this is the most affordable option on our list, its limited use prevents us from awarding it with Best Value. Also, you won’t want to run an air compressor with this system if performance is a concern, meaning you’ll need to run ports to the vehicle’s exterior or open the trunk every time you want to make adjustments.

Specs
  • Manufacturer Monroe
  • Part Number MA704
  • Position on Vehicle Rear
PROS

OE quality and affordable pricing

Simple installation

Can totally transform vehicle stance and performance on command

CONS

Limited to dated applications

Adjusting pressure can be a hassle without external modifications

Quality build, work-rated function, and affordable pricing nearly take the top spot on our list.

And we’re wrapping up our list with one last entry for trucks with another entry from Air Lift. The quality and price of this model prevent us from leaving it off the list as this unit can also help that truck deal with 5,000 pounds of cargo and comes with everything you need to install it with little more than basic hand tools.

While this is a strong contender for Best Overall, some inconsistencies just keep it from getting there. Though the quality is very good for the price, it seems defects are somewhat common based on customer testimonials, and you will need to watch out for issues before bolting this to your truck. That and the fact that additional plumbing components are often needed might drive you to go with the first option.

Specs
  • Manufacturer Air Lift
  • Part Number 57204
  • Position on Vehicle Rear
PROS

Relatively affordable pricing

High-quality construction

Can safely lift up to 5,000 pounds

CONS

Defective/mismatched parts are a somewhat common issue

Installers often need additional hardware

How We Selected The Products 

As we put our list together, we made sure to include something for everyone. Not all air suspension kits do the same thing, and we needed to showcase that in our top picks. We didn’t just grab anything that populated our search results, though. We stuck to the brands we know work. We know they work because the suppliers pride themselves on providing products of top quality and function. If a manufacturer doesn’t bring those characteristics to the table, you might very well be riding on the equivalent of a high-pressure pump just waiting to wreak havoc. 

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing yet on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products. 

Buying Guide/What to Look For 

As we said, not all air suspension kits are the same. Some level loads, others correct ride height, some manipulate air pressure to enhance performance. Which is right for you depends on your intended use. That’s exactly why we’re following up with another guide to help you hone in on the perfect option for you. 

Do You Need an Air Suspension Kit?

Unlike many other aftermarket systems, you might actually need an air suspension kit. They help to correct suspension issues on all rides and can even boost performance on others. You can argue that those are wants rather than needs, but it does depend on how you look at things. 

As we said, they correct suspension issues. Say you load the back of your truck up with cargo, an air suspension system can correct the rake, helping the front tires to remain in contact with the ground. That same dynamic can be used to lift lowered vehicles on command to help them clear curbs. 

Air being added to the suspension firms things up and that can be very useful when tweaking the settings to improve performance. It’s a proven method in drag races and can be useful for any performance application. 

  • Corrects ride height on command 
  • Firms suspension up for potential performance gains
  • Not as expensive as alternative solutions 

Key Features

Air suspension systems achieve amazing goals, but there really isn’t that much to look at to decide which is right for you. 

Intended Use 

The first detail you need to hash out is what you need an air suspension kit to do and figure out which is going to do it for you. This leans itself on some existing knowledge, but you’ll figure it out in no time. A quick way to determine what a kit will do is simply by reading the product description as the chances are that it will tell you if it’s meant for leveling trucks, helping lift cars, or boosting performance. 

Quality Build

Air bellows might not be as explosive as bombs, but you definitely don’t want them blowing out on you, though. Air bellows support the vehicle’s weight as the suspension flexes while being subjected to the unforgiving conditions of roadways. They need to be built to endure all of those stresses. The same thing applies to all of the components in between, as the system is only as strong as the weakest link. Always read customer testimonials and make sure to stick with reputable brands to ensure you’re receiving the best possible product. 

Air Compressor Included 

The inclusion of an air compressor isn’t necessary, but it is a nice touch, as having an air compressor on board with controllers allows you to manipulate ride height on command. Without one, you need to park the vehicle near an external air compressor to get the job done and that can be a major hassle. 

An air compressor will drive up the price, though. The good news is that you don’t need to buy one right away in most cases. A lot of systems can have one added on later when you save up a little more cash. 

Expert Tips

Now that you have all of the tools you need to sort through air suspension systems, we have a few more quick tips to share with you before you get rolling. 

Air Impacts Ride Quality

Adding air to a suspension has a direct impact on ride quality. In some cases, it will make things more pleasant. However, it will firm things up considerably if you continue to add air. If the system is adding bellows to the system separate from shocks, you can count on it firming things up whenever air is added. 

Be Mindful of Bellows

The good news is that air suspension kits are usually application-specific and they will come with installation instructions. Don’t just follow them like a drone, though. Pay mind to where you mount the bellows. Keep them away from moving parts, sharp edges, and heat sources to avoid issues. 

Invest in a Compressor

Get an onboard compressor as it’ll save you time and money in the long run. Every time you run a compressor, you are paying for it. Not only that, but having one in your vehicle allows you to change the ride height on command without ever having to stop or exit the vehicle. Trust us. Eliminating the hassle is worth every penny. 

FAQs

Q. Is air suspension legal?

Yes, it’s legal. 

Q. Can you install air suspension by yourself?

Whether or not you can install air suspension on your own depends on a few factors. Some kits only require basic hand tools, while others may lean on specialty equipment you don’t have access to. If you have the tools on hand and feel comfortable performing the work, there’s no reason you couldn’t do it yourself. 

Q. Can you put air suspension on any car?

Just because an application-specific kit isn’t available for all cars doesn’t mean it can’t be added. Builders can, and have, added air suspension to virtually every vehicle imaginable. It might take skills with fabrication and a good understanding of suspension dynamics, but it can be done. 

Q. Does cold air affect air suspension?

There’s a lot of talk about whether or not air suspension components will function in the winter. They will. However, if temperatures drop below freezing, you might want to avoid doing so. There is a chance that key components will become brittle in extremely cold weather and fail while in use.

Q. Can you adjust air suspension while driving?

As long as you have an air compressor and controller, you can adjust air pressure while driving. Just understand that it is changing the dynamic of your suspension as you drive. You need to accommodate those changes to maintain control over the vehicle. 

About the Author

Hank O’Hop is a self-taught gearhead struggling with a lifelong love affair with classic automobiles. He may not have experience in a professional garage, but he’s broken more than his fair share of parts to know how not to do things under the hood. He’s driven to find what works and what doesn’t. Writing serves as an opportunity to help others avoid the headaches he’s bound to come across.

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