When people think of airbags they immediately think of a lowrider car, but times are different and this application has evolved to include many other uses. Whether you are towing, off-roading, at home, or out camping, having a proper air system helps get the job done.
Pacbrake has been making options for safe tow applications since 1961, so we turned to the company and its Air Management by Pacbrake (AMP) line of products to help outfit our 2006 Dodge Ram 2500.
The Benefits Of Air
When plotting out how things work and what goes well together, it’s always a good idea to defer to the experts. In this case, Pacbrake.
“Pacbrake has been manufacturing heavy-duty products for various OEMs and aftermarket applications while aiming to offer safe tow/haul solutions,” said Neha Doshi of Pacbrake. “To complement these tow/haul solutions, we developed a growing line of AMP air suspension kits that would help eliminate common problems trucks would experience when under tow.”
“AMP air springs will level out the truck’s stance to give an overall smoother and safer ride,” Neha continued. “With the ability to control the amount of air in each bag, either manually or by onboard air, these kits create ideal hauling conditions. They help out in four main areas by improving ride control, reducing suspension fatigue, reducing truck sag, and help prevent sway and bottoming out.”
AMP air springs will level out the truck’s stance to give an overall smoother and safer ride. – Neha Doshi, Pacbrake
“Having the ability to control the pressure from inside the driver’s seat is extremely convenient and saves users from having to step out of the vehicle to adjust the air in the bags,” Neha said.
Armed with the proper knowledge on how the air suspension would help our Dodge Ram, we headed to the shop to get the products installed.
Installation Of The Pacbrake AMP
Our Dodge Ram will be overhauled with the complete AMP suspension line. This includes air springs, compressor, tank, and switches to get everything working together.
Installed Pacbrake AMP Products
- Air Spring Kit (PN HP10089)
- In-Cab Switches and Solenoid (PN HP10062)
- 12-volt AMP Air Compressor (PN HP10066)
- 2.5 Gallon AMP Air Tank Kit (PN HP10050)
- Compressor Mounting Bracket (PN HP10204)
The air springs came with everything needed to attach them to the truck and are specially tailored to our year, make, and model — just like Pacbrake’s other products. Our air springs were single convoluted bags due to the fact that the truck is only 2WD, but double convoluted bags for the 4WD version of the truck are also offered.
The majority of the air spring install was done on the table and not on the truck. All of the mounting plates were built and attached to the spring outside of the vehicle. Once the springs were assembled, it made the work on the truck very simple.
Under the truck, we used the supplied brackets and bolts to attach the bags to the rearend. The bags needed to stretch quite a bit once we had all the bolts tightened down, so we put a jackstand under the axle to help lift the air spring to the top mounts in order to attach the bolt.
Next, we tightened all the bolts and determined the best place to mount the air tank, which must be accessible to drain if needed, and close enough to the solenoid and compressor. There was not much room under the truck so we opted to mount everything on the outside of the passenger side frame rail.
This location provided one spot for all the components in the kit as well as easy access in the event we need to work on any of the parts. Before drilling the frame, we marked the location of where we would mount the solenoid and tank.
One accessory that comes with the tank is a remote air line with quick disconnect. This provides an easy and convenient method to connect an air line that is useful for inflating tires coming off the trail, blowing up rafts at the river, or filling up sports balls at the park. We ran the line to the front of the truck and mounted it behind the grille next to the driver’s side headlight.
This is one feature of the kit we like because it expands the overall use of the air system. It was not something we had thought of yet, and the fact Pacbrake includes it with this kit is an added bonus.
The pre-bent compressor bracket made life a lot easier when mounting our compressor as it has slots that match right up to it. Additional holes were drilled through the frame, and before we knew it, we had all the components under the truck installed.
Before we got too far under the truck, we wanted to jump inside and find the perfect location for the switches. We held them up in numerous places, but with limited room inside of our 2006 Ram 2500, we decided to mount them in the center section. This would keep the switches out of the way when entering and exiting the vehicle, and also keep kids from pushing the buttons. We had to remove the plastic center section and drill holes to make the switches fit as if they were meant to be there from the factory.
With everything laid out, we routed the wires and hoses to their final destination. We also ran the lines to each air spring to connect them to the air tank. The compressor would also connect to the tank, and air lines from the solenoid needed to run into the cab and connect to the switches to regulate air pressure. Wires also were needed on the solenoids to signal when to turn on, and fill, the springs.
The cab switches also needed to be connected to an ignition and dimmer switch, which we found near the interior fuse box. The AMP system will only operate with the ignition on, and features a kill switch when the brake pedal is touched, which will only allow the system to run with the vehicle off.
With the final connections made, it was time to turn the key and see if we had power. Success! Everything worked like it was supposed to, and we were able to inflate the springs.
Riding On Air
No one knows a vehicle better than the owner, so we spoke with the Ram’s owner, Lloyd Hunt, to get his thoughts on the kit, how the truck performed, and his favorite features.
“I like the compactness of the gauge and bag switches which allowed for a very convenient mounting location that keeps it out of reach from kids,” Hunt said. “The kit is also not noticeable from outside the vehicle, as everything is tucked up under the truck. Even with low pressure in the bags, the ride was smoothed out some.”
“One of my favorite features is having the onboard compressor and remote air port,” continued Hunt. “I have used it a couple of times now to air tires on my family’s bikes and helped a neighbor that had a low tire on their car. I also use the air line to blow off water from around the door handles, windows, and air filter.”
Hunt acknowledged that he hasn’t fully loaded the truck down yet, and will have to let us know how the truck handles under a heavy load, which we will update here once we see how it performs. If you are looking for a way to solve your tow problems be sure to check out everything Pacbrake has to offer on its website using the source box below.