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the air bag *is* the spring. they typically have oil filled struts inside of them like a conventional strut and the air bag is the spring and is adjustable.

i'm not sure how that system works but Subaru's that come stock from the factory with air bags have a controller system where they do have height sensors integrated into the struts, with air compressor, air lines, solenoids, dryer, air tank, etc - and they automatically self-level and adjust as needed.

i would suspect you would do the same here - get controllers that retain your height, adjust, etc. that's just going to be very expensive. or you can set up manual system with a switch that airs up/down each strut as needed...still going to be a very cumstom and expensive build that way too. i've seen the stock Subaru systems converted to manual and i've done it a different way but simply installing schrader valves at the struts to fill them up with a compressor manually too, but that's not a good solution really.

if you're consistently weighting the car down then just get different springs or a 1" or 2" lift...whatever fits your needs the best and leave it at that.

if you're carrying a lot of weight or towing a lot of weight the air bags don't necessarily handle that kind of weight.

one advantage, at least to the stock subaru systems (i have no idea how robust these aftermarket ones are) is the air struts seem to last longer than conventional struts. they have a lot of air lines, orings, solenoids, and stuff to go wrong though so you better know them and be able to install/maintain them yourself, but if you keep fresh orings, the bags from wearing, they can last a long time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ah, thanks for the info, grossgary. If I were install these, I would probably just install an extention tube to a schrader valve in the cabin in the back. I'd like it as simple as possible, but still allow the car to adjust to varying loads.

If I were engineering these from scratch, I would still go with a larger outside spring containing an inner bag. It seems like that design would allow for a more typical ride, while reducing strain on the bag, which would only need to have pressure added for heavier loads.

I'm planning on giving the car more power and I really dislike 'marshmallow' suspensions. I'd like to retain ride height, but also greatly reduce roll, dive, and sag. As I said in another thread, I'm feeling almost like I should just weld in some stiff leaf springs and call it a day.. haha
 

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airbags aren't cheap and do require some TLC. The Yukon I used to do my boat tow from SF to Dillion Co and back had air bags in the rear springs. About an hour into our 28hr drive home the system sprung a leak. Had to listen to the air pump running every 30 minutes for the rest of the trip. For that particular haul they weren't needed the trailer we had was very light. Unless your hauling a trailer with a packed car a whole bunch just going to a stiffer spring would be the best and easiest and cheapest fix.

However if your intent on air system - I might suggest you look at the Subaru air suspension sold in other markets for the same car no reason to try and reinvent the wheel when it already exists.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm not necessarily intent on an air system, but I was weighing my options. I'm somewhat frustrated that there isn't a unit that has a standard spring setup with an airbag "assist" added. It seems like a pretty practical thing to have for small SUV's and wagons, but I guess not many people actually "use" their vehicles like I do.

I don't usually have much of a load in my car, but when I do, it's usually a lot. I'm guessing the most is probably when I shuffle 4 extra of buddies (~200lbs each) with all of their heavy gear stuffed into the back, plus water storage, plus a roof carrier and gear strapped to the roof. That probably totals somewhere over 1500lb of weight added, not to mention there are often several miles of rough mountain roads to navigate. I don't do that all the time, but I haul a lot of things in my car and similar situations pop up occasionally. I'd rather not destroy my suspension in the process. I've looked around and it seems like the beefiest springs that fit are only 20% stiffer. I was hoping for a bit more than that.
 

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trailer? a small trailer would be ideal to get some of the weight off the car, but that's more expensive, probably hampers off road mountain roads, extra maintenance, etc.

awesome, you are giving your car a work out! designing for that kind of use would price out the majority of buyers. a full size truck is designed for consistent use as you describe without any affect to handling/suspension. the subaru will do it, but if you're pushing the limits of anything it's just going to impact performance more.
 
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