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  1. #1
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    TrailLeadr's Avatar
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    Default Avalanche Air spring installation

    Installing air springs/bags from AirLift, and the accompanying compressor on a 2002 Avalanche.
    The goal of this procedure is to give the Avalanche a little stiffer support while towing our horse trailer. Here is the victim…err vehicle I will be installing them on. For starters, I'd like to suggest that this is not something you should just run into without having a plan. Since you've going to be running hoses, and wiring along the chasis of the vehicle it's a good idea to envision how you want it to work before you even block the wheels, or pick up a wrench. Drawing it out on a piece of paper works fine too.



    First step is to make sure you have everything before you start. Lay out all of your parts, and verify against your parts list. This is also a good time to gather up the required tools


    Now that you've got that all set, chock your wheels, and prep the vehicle for work. In addition to chocking the wheels, I also put it in 4 Wheel Low, mostly because I do not have a flat level surface to work on. (my driveway sucks) *Some of the other tools needed, but not pictured was an engine hoist, and a cordless drill, and ramps.
    The installation manual suggested that installing the springs would be as easy as lifting the vehicle until the wheels came off the ground. It also suggested that removing the shocks would allow more travel. (Not nearly even enough, if you ask me.) I found that to make this as easy as possible to access the springs I had to remove the upper bolts of the sway bar links, remove the lower shock bolts, and one of the panhard rod/track bar bolts.

    In the next picture you can see I started to remove the lower link bolt, only to realize that I would not be able to remove the link from the sway bar without fighting with it. Removing the upper is a much easier option.
    Patrick
    Rhode Island


  2. #2
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    This is a shot of underneath the Avalanche with the shocks, sway bar links, and track bar disconnected. The driver's side spring removed.

    Since I have the driveway from hell, I find it's a whole lot easier to use the creeper on cheap plywood sheets. ^^
    To lift the vehicle you can use a jack, but I found it less scary to use my engine hoist to lift the rear of the truck at the bumper. A whole lot more secure than setting up a jack with a pole, or piece of wood as a spacer between the jack and the body.
    Once the springs are out, you'll want to fit the air springs into the inside of the coils of the coil springs. The manufacturer suggests deflating, and rolling the air bags up, and fit them through the lowest coil opening. It takes some work, but in the end you get this:

    The next step is to cut a larger opening in the rubber boot that sits on top of the coil spring as shown in the pic below.

    Discard the small piece you cut out, as it will not be needed any longer. Since you already have your plan of how you want your hoses routed. (remember the golden rule, measure twice cut once) Measure, and cut your first length of hose, install spacers (if needed)

  3. #3
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    For me this part was pretty easy, since my length of hose was long enough to be routed up into the body, while the spring sat on the ground. It would be fairly difficult to do, if you had to hold the spring up near it's home, while trying to feed the hose through tight spaces. This is where my hose had to feed through on the chassis.

    Here's a shot of the spring, and air bag with hose routed through the top mount.

    Since I wasn't trying to push my luck with lifting the body, I still had to apply some pressure to fit the springs back into place. The easiest way to accomplish this was to mount the lower rubber bushing onto it's home

  4. #4
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    (Bushing, and mounting location shown for reference.)

    Once this is in place, align the spring into the top mount, and be sure the hose is not being pinched, then while applying some pressure push the bottom of the spring upward while moving it onto the lower bushing.
    After I installed the second spring, I then debated extensively where to put the air compressor, and finally found that behind the driver's side rear tire was a nice clean dry place to put the compressor. This goes back to plan this out carefully before you start. I had a plan, but it didn't work as well as I'd hoped, and I had no plan b going into the project, so I had to come up with it on the fly.
    It was at this time, that the dark clouds started rolling in, and proceeded to downpour on me. It's a funny thing, after you're soaked, you don't mind the rain so much...lol Since it was raining, and I didn't have a secure place for my camera, this was the end of my pictures for this install.
    The rest of the fun was spent running hoses, and wires. I wired the pump into the electrical center in the engine compartment. There were two unused oversized blade style fuse locations, once of which became the power tap for the compressor.

    (The following pics were taken a week after the install)

    Last edited by TrailLeadr; 08-07-2007 at 08:52 PM.

  5. #5
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    The Avalanche has a center console, and as such it has a lot of unused space under the cup holders. Conveniently the cup holders just pop out. Inside you will notice that there is a steel frame for the console, with a large circular cutout. Within that cutout, there is an opening in the carpet. It was so well hidden that I never checked for it, and sliced into the carpet anyway. I cut away a small piece of carpet, and insulation revealing the body pan. At this point I drilled a pilot hole, and then using a step drill bit, I opened up the hole. You need to be careful, as there is tubing running under this location. I believe this is the fuel lines. I fed the hoses, and positive lead for the compressor through this hole.

    The compressor control panel was mounted along side the center console.

    You can see in the picture below the springs are filled with about 30psi of air. The manufacturer states that a loss of 1-2psi over a 24 hour period is normal. So far we've seen about 1-2PSI loss over the course of the last week since I installed it, so I guess it's safe to say there are no leaks

  6. #6

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    Beautiful job Patrick, WTG. This will be on my list of things to do for my project truck. Big help that you posted this.

    BTW can you take pictures of your knuckles for us. I would hardly believe that you got away without a mark



    Jamie

    2007 Ford E250(Work van) (Ya, Ya, shut up!)
    1996 GMC Sierra SLE 1500 5.7L/4L60E

  7. #7
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    Actually because the Avalanche is so new, it was one of the easiest after market installs I've ever done. None of the bolts were frozen or rusted. The only damage I suffered was bumping my elbow into one of the carrots that hold the cladding in place near the air compressor. Gave myself a small slice, other than that it was smooth sailing.

    In the pic of the compressor it's the one near the "G" in GMTruckClub logo.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailLeadr View Post
    Actually because the Avalanche is so new, it was one of the easiest after market installs I've ever done. None of the bolts were frozen or rusted.
    There's something you don't hear everyday!




    Quote Originally Posted by TrailLeadr View Post
    The only damage I suffered was bumping my elbow into one of the carrots that hold the cladding in place near the air compressor. Gave myself a small slice.

    In the pic of the compressor it's the one near the "G" in GMTruckClub logo.
    Ouch! That's gonna leave a mark!

  9. #9

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    good job TraiLeadr! Did the ride get any rougher when you'r not towing? I would like to add helper bags onto my truck, but I don't want to get a rougher ride when I'm not towing. I also wonder if I can just use the regulator and use an existing compressor I hope to have by then on the truck. I'm trying to just run one air system on the truck (probably around 125PSI if I can pull it off) with a decent sized tank and reg all the output lines as neccesary for everything...
    Christopher

    1991 Chevy Suburban 1/2 ton 2WD w/ chevy SBC 350-3/4 ton drivetrain upgrade w/4.10 gears 200K miles
    2005 Saturn ION-2 Stock 277K miles
    1982 Bronco, 1993 Bronco (sold), 1971 M35A2 Deuce and a Half



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  10. #10
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    You're my hero Patrick! This is something I will end up doing to my Silverado to increase tow capacity (or ride comfort and leveling while loaded) in the near future. Some day I may even ditch the hitch and go with a 5th wheel setup. My friend started his own transportation business with a hot shot trailer and a Silverado with a Duramax. I will just do it for recreational purposes. He installed airbags on his as well and tell me they are the shiznit!

    Thanks for the step-by-step Patrick!
    Darcy
    Washington State
    2006 Silverado 2500HD LT3 4X4 CC SB Duramax LBZ
    Tuff Country 6" lift, 35" Toyo M/T's on 20" Ultra Peacemaker wheels, Quadzilla Stealth2 programmer, Diamond Eye 5" cat-back exhaust, factory Special order color Yellow.

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