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Thread: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

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    Sr Member Dave_The_BMXER's Avatar
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    Default Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    Mods hopefully you don't mind that this copy is a lift from my site but I am not typing this out again.

    On the way back from H2O the odometer on my 2004 Mazda 3 clicked past 216,000 which means that I have now traveled roughly sixteen thousand kilometers on my Air Lift Performance suspension set-up.

    Since my switch to the ‘darkside’ via the final production prototype of Air Lift’s Mazda 3 kit I’ve been repeatedly asked a few of the same questions about my suspension.

    These questions are generally variations of: how does it ride, how reliable/accurate is the management system, and do you plan on driving it in the winter?



    To answer the last question first yes I will continue to drive my car all year. This car is, and will always be, a daily driver and that includes driving it straight through the absolute worst of the winter conditions here in Toronto.

    My immediate plans for winter prep are actually quite simple; drain the tank more often.

    Air Lift tests their bags and struts to both hot and cold extremes so I’ve got nothing to worry about in that regard, and since the main issues people have running air in the winter stems from moisture freezing in the lines –or leaks of which I have none– draining my tank weekly instead of monthly should eliminate/minimize any problems I could encounter.



    Should the aforementioned not be sufficient I will add a little brake line antifreeze to the mix, if I encounter any problems after that step I will add a water trap.

    I intend to do a mid winter update on this very subject so if you are particularly concerned about winter driving on bags look out for that post in February.



    In terms of reliability my set-up has thus far been absolutely rock solid. The Autopilot V2 management system really is quite the small wonder, it occupies next to no space in my hatch and performs flawlessly.

    Currently I have four ride height presets, an all up, and an all down saved in my V2.

    My presets (measured in psi) are as follows (FL, FR, RL, RR)

    Solo
    38
    38
    38
    30


    One Passenger
    40
    42
    38
    35


    Two Passengers
    42
    42
    43
    40


    Three Passengers (full car)
    43
    43
    52
    49


    All Up
    70
    70
    65
    65


    All Down
    0
    0
    0
    0


    These presets put me at roughly 22 3/4″ front and 23 1/4″ rear fender to ground which equates to a very minimal amount of tire tuck with a slight forward rake.

    This is exactly how I wanted my car to sit and hair lower than I was static.



    One of the biggest advantages of the Air Lift strut set-up is that as the system raises or lowers psi in the air spring the spring rates increase or decrease respectively, while the struts maintain their full length of travel.

    This means that the increase in pressure at each preset above ensures that my wheels don’t hit my fenders and the car doesn’t hit the ground over bumps when more passengers are introduced.

    Determining the best pressures for the above scenarios only took about a minute or two of play on manual mode when faced with a new scenario. In fact my full car preset was established in a matter of minutes in Ocean City when we decided to cruise the strip in my car.

    Should a new situation arise I still have three more presets to play with, which quite frankly is more than enough.

    If you are curious about the difference in drivers rear versus passenger rear, my passenger quarter was the first one I ever rolled and has slightly more pull which means in order to look right visually I run a little less psi.




    In my eight month experience the system has always come within +/- 1 psi of the preset and the only ‘problem’ I’ve ever encountered is the car not sitting quite as low as I want when transitioning to ride height from the all up preset.

    The pressures read correct but the car for whatever reason it sits a little bit high. This could be attributed to the fact that whenever I use all up I also jack the car off the ground.

    If I double tap the preset button with the car in motion things settle down back to where they should be. With the way my (and presumably most of you) wheels are set-up the system erring on the side of too high is easier on the wallet than too low.





    The ride quality, in a word, is beautiful. While I managed to convince myself my static ride wasn’t that bad, my passengers thought quite the contrary. Previously I had next to no travel with moderately stiff springs, which meant anyone in my car felt every bump in the road and on occasion got to know the physical limits of my suspension travel quite intimately.

    The improvement in ride quality was noticeable the instant I first drove the car on air and to date I have yet to bottom out my struts in the sixteen thousand km I’ve driven.

    This includes trips to Detroit, Montreal, and Ocean City.



    Despite what many assume, modern air suspension is not ‘floaty’ or under damped, and the best way to describe my ride quality now would be to liken it to a functionally set up street coilover system.

    My ride quality is now worlds away from stock, stiffer than springs, but considerably more enjoyable than your standard (BC/Stance/Megan/Raceland ETC) coilovers at full down and full stiff.

    Set to 20/30 in the adjustment range I can feel at ease driving my parents around without fear of rattling their brains out, and my wife has gone as far to admit that the car is now comfortable to travel within.

    At the same time I can take on/off ramps at a good clip and not have to worry about my wheels having it out with my quarter panels, or feeling like I am the captain of a particularly large sea vessel.

    I've yet to take the car onto a track but I know that Air Lift did track test this suspension set-up and it performed quite well.


    All said and done I honestly couldn't be happier with my car on air and can’t really think of any reason why I would switch back. The ride is firm but forgiving, the system can be counted on, the only thing I had to sacrifice was a spare tire, and I can park right on the ground.

    Full post with larger photos available here http://www.stanceiseverything.com/20...meters-on-air/

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    Very nice.
    Your lower psi ride heights (i'm 63/55/70/70) must make for a more comforable ride.
    Modifications? I've forgotten more than I remember. Click here for the list.

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    Member Shinglez's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    This is great - super informative and a good read!

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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    Awesome review Dave! A good read indeed as Shinglez mentioned

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    Jr Member shub's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    Great post! I always wondered about the winter thing. Makes me want air now, but hell, I haven't even gone springs yet haha.
    What setup were you running before?

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    Sr Member Dave_The_BMXER's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    Glad you guys liked it. Decided to put sometime into it and most importantly do it with some KM on the car.

    I was previously on BC coils with 10k 135mm springs up front. I had been on those BCs in different configurations for about three years. Prior to that sportlines.

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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    Slightly jelly.

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    Sr Member schmat66's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    very nice :p

    ps: i ride lower static

    haha just bugging
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    Sr Member Dave_The_BMXER's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    You totally do ride lower static when I looked at your fender to ground when writing this I was like WTF.

    I'm not sure I could run that low and not have something come into contact with something else.

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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    Nice review on air lift. Makes me wanna get one too but need other stuff first.
    Hows fast speed cornering on bags, like doing 80 on those nice smooth round on/off ramps. Any loss of traction or understeer.
    2005 MZ3 HB- Velocity Red - To go sliding
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    "He who shall be last, shall be sideways and smiling." - Jeremy Clarkson

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    Sr Member Dave_The_BMXER's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    It's good, comparable to my coils before I monkeyed with them. Bumps on ramps the car feels less skittish probably because I have travel.

    The Air Lift kit also allows me to retain my rear sway bar, which is an after market one which helps.
    Last edited by Dave_The_BMXER; 11-05-2013 at 12:13 PM.

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    Sr Member schmat66's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_The_BMXER View Post
    You totally do ride lower static when I looked at your fender to ground when writing this I was like WTF.

    I'm not sure I could run that low and not have something come into contact with something else.

    isnt there more suspension travel with air? im shocked you ride that low!

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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_The_BMXER View Post
    It's good, comparable to my coils before I monkied with them. Bump on ramps the car feels less skitish probably because I have travel.

    The Air Lift kit also allows me to retain my rear sway bar, which is an aftermarket one which helps.
    You're bang on about the travel and proper damping. The stiffer coils would definitely be the culprit for the car getting upset over bumps while cornering hard.

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    Sr Member Dave_The_BMXER's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    Quote Originally Posted by schmat66 View Post
    isnt there more suspension travel with air? im shocked you ride that low!
    There is for sure most travel but keep in mind I am less aggressive than you so over bumps I just tuck a little more tire and go about my business. I've never had the car hit the ground, liner rub occasionally which is what I had prior to the 10k springs.

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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    Can you please post more photos of the rear arms. Do they have spherical bearings instead of bushings?
    Want to work on your car but not sure how, send me a PM. Learn the way of Nator.

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    Sr Member Dave_The_BMXER's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review




    It's bushings

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    Member CH0SiiN1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    Great write up Dave!!
    See my B20V Teggy & Onyx in her prime here:
    http://www.torontomazda3.ca/forum/sh...N1-s-Ride-Onyx

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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    The pics of the different setups are great. I would love to have air, hopefully on the next car.

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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    how has the suspension been holding up to the 'polar vortex' temps we've been having past few weeks?
    you mentioned draining the tank more often, have you had to add the water trap and/or antifreeze?
    2007 Mazda 3 GS sedan - Arctic White / Tan cloth

  20. #20
    Sr Member Dave_The_BMXER's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    Nope, I've not added anything. I admittedly don't play with the suspension when its -30 below just to avoid issues but anytime I have had to air up this winter it's been fine.

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    Noob jdmis250's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    I used to have airlift slam x on my jetta GLI, but compare to coils it's way too soft
    Don't know how's the performance one does

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    Sr Member Dave_The_BMXER's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    So far they have been stiff enough to keep me from getting in trouble.

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    Noob jdmis250's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_The_BMXER View Post
    So far they have been stiff enough to keep me from getting in trouble.
    are they still like the old one? More lower more softer?

  24. #24
    Sr Member Dave_The_BMXER's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    Yes the less psi the lower the spring rate, this is true of all air systems. However I'm not sure which version of the Slam XLs you had but they now have adjustable dampening (like mine) so if it wasn't to your liking you could firm it up that way.

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    Noob jdmis250's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air Lift Performance Suspension Review

    viewed the airlift performance kit vs coilover video at Vimeo. Airlift does good job, I might gonna try one on my GTI
    Love the kit coming with camber plate

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