In­stalling Air Lift’s Load Lifter 5000 Ul­ti­mate on a 2016 Ti­tan XD diesel

Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents - Text / Pho­tog­ra­phy: Thom Can­nell

Air Lift’s Load Lifter 5000 Ul­ti­mate

Nissan’s new Ti­tan XD looks good in­side and out and the 5.0-liter Cum­mins diesel lurk­ing be­neath the hood looks even bet­ter. It’s there be­cause Nissan un­der­stands the needs of its en­larged tar­get cus­tomer base, those that need a diesel hauler but not a diesel brawler. There­fore, the Ti­tan XD has a 12,500-pound tow ca­pac­ity, the same as 2500s de­liv­ered back in the day. Com­par­a­tively, to­day’s 2500 and 3500s have three times that tow­ing ca­pac­ity and a price tag to match the ca­pa­bil­ity. But many cus­tomers have the same 7 to 12,000-pound trailer and no need for more. That’s why Nissan de­liv­ered an all-new truck with a com­mand­ing ap­pear­ance, a mod­ern, fully equipped in­te­rior, and a full lineup of sin­gle, dou­ble or king cabs, and crew cabs into the mar­ket with diesel or gaso­line en­gines. There’s the long wheel­base Ti­tan XD with a diesel or gaso­line V8, the Ti­tan (no X or D) V8, and soon a V6 gas en­gine. (For a more de­tailed re­view of the Cum­mins pow­ered Nissan Ti­tan XD see the De­cem­ber/jan­uary 2017 is­sue of UDBG. —Ed.)

Nissan has of­fered us a long-term Ti­tan XD loaner with Cum­mins power; it’s a truck that was with us on the orig­i­nal launch, a Plat­inum Re­serve trim model with leather seats and every ac­ces­sory the com­pany has in its op­tion bag other than a moon roof. Like all Ti­tan XDS, it is equipped with a backup cam­era that, by switch­ing cam­era feeds, makes it easy for a sin­gle per­son to drop the hitch onto the ball. It also of­fers

the novel and won­der­ful one-per­son light check sys­tem (click a spe­cific se­quence on the re­mote and all trailer lights il­lu­mi­nate se­quen­tially) for peace of mind and le­gal con­for­mance. We do have the nicely in­te­grated stan­dard goose­neck hitch setup in the bed, plus Nissan’s Utili-track chan­nels in the sides and ex­clu­sively in the bed.

At the launch event, we towed a max­i­mum load, per­haps us­ing the same truck we have on loan. Tow­ing at nearly full ca­pac­ity was un­event­ful, but we no­ticed a bit of nose­high at­ti­tude and the slight­est hint of por­pois­ing even though tongue weight was set pre­cisely. If you tow, even oc­ca­sion­ally, you’ll un­der­stand the need for keep­ing the bed level and head­lights pointed where they be­long; you un­der­stand the need for sup­ple­men­tal air sus­pen­sion. Thus our trip to the mother ship in Lans­ing, Michi­gan, where Air Lift has been equip­ping ve­hi­cles with “air bags” since 1949.

What fol­lows is an ab­bre­vi­ated in­stall; the man­ual con­tains every step with clear and ex­ten­sive pho­tog­ra­phy. We rolled up on Air Lift’s R&D garage early, full of plans to in­stall the Load Lifter 5000 Ul­ti­mate sys­tem on a day that dumped nearly a foot of snow in the area. That blew our tow­ing re­port, which will have to wait for bet­ter weather. Al Seger, Air Lift En­gi­neer­ing Pro­ject Man­ager, and Ryan Feyer, Marketing Man­ager for the load sup­port di­vi­sion, met us at the front door, then ush­ered the Ti­tan XD into one of two lift-equipped bays where they de­velop Air Lift prod­ucts for trucks and cars.

Feyer told us the in­stall time should take “about 2.5 hours for an ex­pe­ri­enced me­chanic, a bit longer for a true novice.” Other than a torque wrench, which is truly im­por­tant, only stan­dard hand tools like a met­ric wrench or socket set and a tub­ing cut­ter are needed. The in­stal­la­tion is very straight­for­ward and most novice Diy­ers should have no prob­lems per­form­ing the in­stal­la­tion them­selves. As al­ways, be sure to prac­tice safe shop tech­niques when work­ing on your truck, es­pe­cially when work­ing un­der it and when routing hoses or wiring around mov­ing/spin­ning ob­jects.

For the in­stall in our Ti­tan XD we chose to run in­di­vid­ual lines to each air spring, fol­low­ing each main chas­sis mem­ber. We zip-tied each line every 8 to 12 inches to pre­vent any slack that might in­vite de­bris, ice or mud to pull on the line. In an up­com­ing is­sue we’ll be in­stalling a com­pres­sor with self-lev­el­ing ca­pa­bil­ity and will be re­plac­ing one or both air lines. Your de­ci­sion is where to put the Schrader-valve fit­tings for adding air in a man­ual in­stall like this; we chose to in­stall them be­low the rear bumper.

With our in­stall complete for now, we asked Air Lift for tips about in­stalling air springs. Seger says, “Hoses must be kept away from heat sources, and don't go through any ex­ist­ing frame holes as vi­bra­tion, chaffing and move­ment will even­tu­ally wear a hole.” He also says it’s im­por­tant to zip-tie the air hose

at fre­quent in­ter­vals so ice and snow or mud can­not ac­cu­mu­late and drag the hose down. An­other tip, a re­quire­ment cov­ered in the man­ual, is to cut the hose cleanly and squarely. All home stores now sell in­ex­pen­sive hose cut­ters near their PEX tube plumb­ing dis­play. A clean-cut end is manda­tory be­fore you insert the hose into the quick-con­nect fit­ting.

Af­ter we com­pleted run­ning the air lines and leak test­ing the con­nec­tions, we were done. Note that un­like some of Air Lift’s other kits, the Load Lifter 5000 Ul­ti­mate for a Ti­tan XD diesel does not re­quire a heat shield for the poly­mer air line as it is not near any ex­haust heat source. This is spe­cific to Ti­tan XD; for some kits for other models will need a shield.

We pres­sur­ized both springs to the rec­om­mended 5 psi and checked the sys­tem for leaks with soapy wa­ter on all the air fit­ting con­nec­tions. One of the fea­tures of the Load Lifter 5000 Ul­ti­mate is the abil­ity to run at zero pres­sure in an un­loaded ve­hi­cle if pres­sure is lost. That’s due to the in­ter­nal jounce bumper. But keep your springs set at 5 psi min­i­mum; 100 psi is the max­i­mum. Also, Air Lift says it helps to con­di­tion the air spring and soften it a bit so it doesn't feel tight and new. The anal­ogy is a bal­loon; you’d stretch it be­fore blow­ing it up. Their rec­om­men­da­tion for con­di­tion­ing is to put 60-80 psi into the air spring and let it sit overnight. In the morn­ing you should feel a dif­fer­ence when you re­turn the springs to 5 psi. Of course, car­ry­ing a load with the air springs in­flated will also con­di­tion the air springs rapidly. They also told us if you’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing por­pois­ing, try re­duc­ing air spring pres­sure to smooth out the ride and make it more bal­anced front-to-rear.

If you’re won­der­ing, as we did, about longevity, Air Lift war­rants their air spring for the life of your ve­hi­cle so this truly rep­re­sents a long-term in­vest­ment. Of course, you have to fol­low the pres­sure rec­om­men­da­tions. We’ll soon be in­stalling Air Lift’s Smart Air au­to­matic lev­el­ing sys­tem, and hope­fully a truly in­no­va­tive con­trol sys­tem that’s un­der development. Sh­hhh—it’s a secret. UDBG

Nissan’s Ti­tan XD has a healthy tow­ing ca­pac­ity but it tends to do it with a nose-high at­ti­tude, mak­ing it a per­fect can­di­date for a set of Air Lift Load Lifter 5000 Ul­ti­mate air springs.

4 Once it was on the lift, we let the beast drip dry while we asked a few ques­tions and slit the seal on the Load Lifter 5000 Ul­ti­mate kit de­vel­oped for the Ti­tan XD with Cum­mins diesel.

3 There’s plenty of room to add air springs on a Ti­tan XD. Nissan’s solid rear axle and con­ven­tional rear leaf spring de­sign keeps most of the hard­ware above the level of the dif­fer­en­tial. This chromed bare chas­sis from the launch event dis­plays the clean

1&2 The Load Lifter 5000 Ul­ti­mate sys­tem comes pack­aged in a com­pact box that comes with ev­ery­thing needed for the in­stal­la­tion. Air Lift prides it­self on hav­ing every nec­es­sary part in the box, in­clud­ing all clips, clamps, and even zip ties. Their Load L

5 Af­ter lay­ing out all the parts and en­sur­ing that all parts needed were in the bags, we used jack stands to add dis­tance be­tween the axle and frame as the air springs insert be­tween, and at­tach to, axle and frame. This en­sured that the up­per brack­ets wou

7 Seger told us: “The im­por­tant part of the assem­bly is to en­sure that the flange on the lower bracket points to the di­rec­tion of, or is on the same side as, the fit­ting on the top. Our di­rec­tions il­lus­trate it clearly. Don't tighten any­thing down; keep i

6 Al Seger then as­sem­bled the air spring with all ac­ces­si­ble parts fit­ting snugly, but not torqued. That comes later. He fit­ted the top roll plate and at­tached the 90° air fit­ting, mak­ing sure to point the fit­ting out­wards.

16 Fi­nally, we torqued all the 3/8” hard­ware to 15 ft-lb; don’t skip this step and don’t trust your “cal­i­brated arm” for torque val­ues. Also, we sug­gest us­ing blue thread locker on any non-brass threaded con­nec­tions. 17 Quick-con­nect fit­tings are pushto-c

12 Check the fit of the lower bracket over the axle. You’re go­ing to move the brack­ets a bit back and forth to en­sure the best, most-aligned fit­ting. Next, insert the square U-bolt into the bracket. At this point you should tighten the bolts se­cur­ing the

11 Next, drop the round U-bolt and J-bolt into the up­per bracket, se­cur­ing the bracket to the chas­sis. Noth­ing gets torqued to fi­nal spec­i­fi­ca­tion at this point, but you may in­stall the flat wash­ers and ny­lon lock nuts.

13 At­tach the lower bracket be­neath the axle and in­stall flat wash­ers and ny­lon lock nuts. Again, loosely fit.

15 He then re­in­stalled a wiring har­ness bracket re­moved ear­lier. Yes, it’s in the kit, as are its nut and bolt.

14 Seger be­gan to fi­nal­ize the in­stal­la­tion by run­ning all the nuts up evenly to a very low torque value af­ter check­ing every place­ment and an­gle.

10 Ac­cord­ing to Seger, the lower bracket sets it­self, lock­ing in to place en­sur­ing there is no ro­ta­tion. “That was a de­sign build-in,” he says. (It's the two hoops and lit­tle fingers that go around the U-bolts, nest­ing and lock­ing, pre­vent­ing ro­ta­tion.)

18 For our Schrader valve lo­ca­tions we se­lected ex­ist­ing holes near each rear bumper sup­port rather than drilling through the bumper, or in­stalling at or be­hind the li­cense plate bucket. The lat­ter are typ­i­cal for an in­stal­la­tion with­out a com­pres­sor. The

20 The fi­nal step, one you never skip, is to leak test every con­nec­tion. Us­ing soapy wa­ter is the eas­i­est method, and it’s cheap. Just add pres­sure to the sys­tem then spray all the air con­nec­tions and look for bub­bles.

19 Un­for­tu­nately, there was an ex­ist­ing bracket above, thus our not-in­the-kit cus­tom bracket that we used. If you drilled a new hole, as many own­ers would, the bracket would not be needed.

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