Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ride Height Control Systems Explained

The most expensive part of your LEVEL 4 air ride system is the height controller package.  So before you drop a bunch of money on it, let's run through the basics so you know which one will be right for you!

Digital height controllers have been on the market since the early 2000s, but it's only been in the past 5 or 6 years that the technology has really caught up with the dream.  Now you've got your choice of several brand-name solutions that all do a great job of making your life easier!
We’ve been a dealer for Accuair, Air Lift Performance, Dakota Digital, and RideTech over the years, and prefer to offer our air management packages with a choice of Accuair eLevel, Air Lift 3P/3H, and RideTech RidePro systems.  Dakota's system is a bit outdated and lacking in features (in our opinion), so we’ll leave that one (along with the countless knock-off kits out there!) out of this conversation.  With that said, here are some of the differences between Accuair, Air Lift Performance, and RideTech.

Air Lift Performance’s 3P and RideTech’s RidePro digital height control systems use sensors to monitor the air pressure in each corner of your vehicle, as well as the air tank, to control your vehicle's air suspension system.  With the 3P, all of these sensors and the system's ECU are built directly into the valve manifold, so this system is extremely easy to install- one air line from your air tank, four air lines out to your airbags, and a total of five wire connections are all you need to have this system up and running!  This system also has a Bluetooth wireless receiver built in, so your iPhone or Android device can be used to control your car remotely! The included handheld control pad has a nice full-color display to navigate the various menus for setting tank pressure, airbag pressures, and lots more- it's a very nice overall package. RideTech’s system has the individual components pre-assembled onto a board with the air tank and compressor, so installation is super simple as well.

HOWEVER, because these systems use air pressure to control your vehicle, they fall victim to the same drawbacks as mentioned in our previous blog post about air gauges- air pressure doesn't equal vehicle height, so these systems can sometimes lead you astray!  To remedy this, Air Lift and RideTech offer systems with physical height sensors that attach to your vehicle’s suspension, which is what Accuair’s eLevel system uses as well.

Accuair's eLevel system doesn't have a problem with pressure readings- in fact, it doesn’t bother reading your airbag pressures at all!  It includes actual height sensors that install at each corner of your vehicle, and it monitors the height of your suspension rather than the pressure in the airbags.  Because of this, your car or truck will always go back to the precise height it was programmed for when you hit that button!  Accuair's handheld controller is a work of art- about the size and shape of an early iPhone, with a nickel-plated housing and nice touch-sensitive buttons; you can definitely feel the quality when you pick it up.

Alright, so are the eLevel, 3H, and RidePro with height sensors are better than the 3P/standard RidePro?  Well, yes and no.  They’re definitely better at maintaining a precise ride height- I don't think anyone would debate that fact.  However, that precision comes at a cost... about 500 bucks, for starters!  Aside from the monetary cost, though, is the added complexity of the system.  There is a LOT more work to be done to set up height sensors, and it can be outside of some people's skill set, which leads to higher labor costs for installation.

So, which system is right for you?  Well, if money is no object, and/or you have infinite automotive skills and tools to match, the eLevel or 3H are truly awesome systems to use.  But if you're looking for a solid and reliable package that won't break your bank, or if you just want to avoid the extra wiring and clutter of a larger installation, then the 3P or standard RidePro system may be the wiser choice. 

I hope that helps you decide on your build- if you still have questions feel free to contact us by visiting !

What About Pressure Gauges?

 So, what's up with gauges?  If you've been to a show and looked inside the cars with air suspension, you've probably seen a bunch of different combinations of switches, gauges, and other accessories- it can all be a bit confusing, can't it?  Well, here's MY opinion on the matter, for what it's worth.  And even though it's my job to sell you stuff, you might be surprised by my take on gauges!

Starting from the top, let's look at what a pressure gauge does in an air suspension system.  Well DUH- it measures the pressure in something, right?  Yep- in most cases you'll use a gauge to measure the pressure in each airbag, and possibly your air tank as well.  Analog gauge packages use either single- or dual-needle gauges with air lines running from the back of the gauge out to your valve assemblies, where they're teed into your system to read pressure.  Electric gauge packages use sending units to read the pressures in your system, so there will only be wires running from your valves to your gauge readout.  Add air to your airbags, and the gauge will read a higher pressure- that should make it easy to set your ride height reliably, right?

Well, the answer isn't that simple, unfortunately.  Air pressure and ride height aren't directly related!  Think of it this way:  Pretend you have your vehicle sitting level at all four corners, and your gauges are reading 80 psi in both front airbags and 50 psi in both rears (the rear is almost always a lower pressure since there usually isn't an engine back there!).  Now, your friend- let's call him Big Dave- gets into the passenger seat to cruise with you to the Dairy Queen for a Blizzard.  Suddenly his 400 pound butt is making your car sit lower on the passenger side, but the pressure went UP!  If you even out the pressure in your system, you'll be sitting even lower on the passenger side... see how this can be a problem?

This phenomenon isn't limited to those of us with friends named Big Dave, either.  If your gas tank is on one side of your vehicle, if you try to set your ride height on unlevel pavement, or if you carry items in your trunk or bed, all of these factors make air pressure kind of unreliable for setting a proper ride height.

Does this mean that gauges are no good?  Absolutely not.  But we don't include them in our electric air management systems to prevent new users from using them as a "crutch" while they learn their vehicle's new ride characteristics.  In my opinion, it's better to install your system without gauges at first, and drive it for a few days or weeks to learn how it feels when you're at different heights.  After you can dial in your ride height simply by feel, gauges can be a helpful monitoring tool in addition to your finely calibrated butt!  Or, you may simply decide that you don't need 'em at all...

The great thing about selling our systems this way is that adding gauges is super easy after the fact.  The Accuair valve manifold included with our LEVEL 3 electric control systems has four plugs in it that can simply be removed and replaced with fittings to run to your air lines for analog gauges or sending units for your electric ones.

If you've read this far, thanks!  I hope you learned something new today.  And if you skipped to the end for a summary, here's the "TL;DR" version: Gauges can lie to you, and they can make it harder for people new to air suspension to learn their system.  I hope that helps you make an educated decision while you shop for your air suspension parts!

Still have questions?  Contact us by visiting ! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Air Suspension FAQs - Choosing the Right Air Management

Adding air suspension to your car or truck is a huge investment, and you probably want to get it right on the first try!  We've got systems to suit every taste and budget, and all of them are built with quality and reliability in mind.  So, which setup is right for you?  Read on, as we explain the different "Levels" we offer for each vehicle...

LEVEL 1 - Good, cheap fun

Our Level 1 systems are designed for people who don't plan to play with the switches a lot.  Lift your ride, drive where you're going, then drop it down when you park- that's where Level 1 shines!  This setup uses 1/4" lines with manual valves, so it won't win any hopping contests- this one's all about easy operation and absolute simplicity.
You'll still have complete control over your ride height- we give you one switch per corner to make it easy to dial in the pressure at each wheel.  Dual-needle gauges on the panel allow you to make adjustments on the fly.
Lift or drop time is approximately 6-8 seconds, depending on the weight of your ride.  We give you the same size air tank as with our other kits (28" seamless aluminum), but a single Viair 480C instead of a pair of compressors- no need for the extra cost and clutter if you're not going to be playing around with the switches much!

LEVEL 2 - I feel the need... the need for SPEED!

Level 2 is kind of the polar opposite of Level 1 - designed for the guy that just HAS to show off at every stop light!  We include eight 3/8" electric valves and lines with a handheld switch box that will have your ride bouncing around QUICKLY - we're talking split-second lifts and drops.  Some cars will even get the wheels off the ground when lifting up!
All of this speed is backed up with a 5 gallon aluminum air tank and dual Viair 380C air compressors- a good combination that won't take up your whole trunk.  If you're going to be SUPER switch-happy, we can definitely swap the compressors out for something larger and throw a second tank in the mix...

While Level 2 kits are fun, they are the most complex to set up due to all of the individual valves- lots of plumbing and wiring.  As with all of our kits, we include diagrams to help ease that pain, but you'll still want to set aside some quiet time alone to get everything installed cleanly.

LEVEL 3 - Clean and simple

The Level 3 system is by far our most popular air management option.  It strikes the perfect balance of speed, simplicity, and cost for most people.
Instead of the Level 2's eight individual valves and all of their associated wiring and plumbing, Level 3 uses an Accuair VU4 valve manifold.  You give up a bit of speed, but the trade-off is a nice, compact valve block that has one inlet from the tank and four outlets to the airbags.  Additionally, a single plug connects all of the wiring from your switch box- it doesn't get much easier than this!

This kit comes with a 28" seamless aluminum air tank and dual Viair 380C air compressors- optionally, you can swap for larger 480C compressors and another tank if you feel like you'll be playing with the switches a lot, but for most people the standard setup works great without sacrificing trunk space.
The Level 3 system costs a couple hundred dollars more than a Level 2, but you may actually SAVE money if you're paying someone to install your kit as the time to install is much lower!

LEVEL 4 - Ride height at the touch of a button!

Alright, NOW we're entering the "baller" category!  Our Level 4 systems all feature digital height control, meaning you'll be able to program and select pre-set heights that your ride will go to with a simple press of a button! 

These kits use pressure sensors, physical height sensors, or a combination of the two to set height. 
We offer packages from Accuair, Air Lift Performance, and RideTech - all have their own unique feature sets that make them unique and special, so you'll want to do some research before choosing which one's right for you.

All of our Level 4 systems include a 28" seamless aluminum air tank and dual Viair 480C air compressors as standard- only the best for the Level 4!  Adding a second tank is always an option, too, if you want to play a little bit more.
We'll be covering the various Level 4 options in another blog post- there's a lot of information to cover there!

I hope this helps make your decision as to which air suspension is right for you.  As always, you can visit us at or call the shop at 916-944-3916 for more information!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Here's a couple of vehicles we've had through the shop recently:

This Riviera came in to replace the ShockWave bags in the front end with our setup- this got the car about 1.5" lower, so the frame is on the ground.

We recently 'bagged a customer's '65 Continental Sedan using our front and rear kits and Accuair eLevel management.  He didn't want to cut out the floor out back, but it still gets down!  We've got a '65 Convertible in the shop now getting a Choppin' Block front and rear kit installed with Air Lift Performance management- we'll see how the drop compares!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Happy Holidays from BC Fab!

We've got a bunch of sales and specials running right now- some for a limited time, some through the month.  Visit to check them all out!


On top of a bunch of special bundle deals, we're giving you 10% all regularly priced parts on our site from today through Sunday!

This deal won't come along again for a while, so grab the parts you need for your ride today!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Some Cars and Trucks in the Shop

Just a few shots of some rides we've had come through our shop in the past couple months!
 2015 Dodge Challenger

 1969 Chevelle SS

 1967 Chevy C10

1955 Cadillac

We'd love to see what you're working on- tag us on Facebook (BC Fabrication) or Instagram (@bcfab) and we'll be happy to share your ride on our page!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

108 Degrees at Our Shop Today? Let's Give Away Some Hoodies! 

It still feels like summer here- the AC in the office is cranked, and it's over 100 degrees in the shop!  But colder weather is just around the corner, so we're getting a jump start on Autumn!

Pick up any Accuair eLevel or SwitchSpeed air management package and receive a FREE Accuair hoodie! This includes all of our Level 4 suspension kits, Level 3 kits with a SwitchSpeed upgrade, and universal air management systems.  

No coupon code required- just tell us what size you want when you send your order (Small through 2XL) and we'll take care of the rest! 

Visit us at to order!