AIR SPRING-LOADED

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

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