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Discussion Starter #1
Air suspension has surfaced a few times in other threads, but I think it warrants a dedicated thread of it's own, since the parent FIAT Ducato has so many options in this regard.

The Promaster's suspension is basically that of the Ducato (strut front, with leaf/beam rear), though with the V-6 engine, changes may of been made to the spring and damper rates.

Many of these options are available for only chassis versions of the Ducato for RV's or larger loads like box bodies for instance. Though, it seems some of these designs are available for van bodied Promaster/Ducato's as well.

Air suspension is of interest as you can tune the ride into the load that you have. For instance, if you have a real heavy load, regular springs in a 3500 chassis that can handle this would give a harsh ride when the van is empty - one of the first drive reviews has already commented on this. I would posit, that most work vans are empty almost half the time they are on the road.

Another good example, is RV's wish for a softer ride.

First up is VB air suspension:
http://www.vbairsuspension.com
VB makes air spring conversions for the regular Ducato as well as RV/chassis versions. Spring heights can vary almost 3 inches.


There are two basic types they offer, one design is the 2c, and the other is the 4c (VB has a 1c design, but it is only for older pre-2006 Ducatos).


For the 2c design, there are two offerings, one is a rear suspension design that retains the rear beam axle, but substitutes the leaf spring for a trailing link:
http://www.vbairsuspension.com/upload/files/00001592.pdf


and a separate design for the front which seems to retain the stock front suspension linkage:
http://www.vbairsuspension.com/upload/files/00001591.pdf
and the other is a full 4 wheel replacement design that replaces the front springs with air bags as well, this looks like the 2C front and rear designs packaged together:
http://www.vbairsuspension.com/upload/files/00001900.pdf


VB also supplies helper air springs, as well as uprated steel springs. They don't supply to USA, currently. VB also sell springs for the AL-KO chassis, more on this next.


AL-KO is a German conglomerate, with an RV chassis and trailer segments. The Ducato is so popular in europe as a motorhome, perhaps because AL-KO makes a dedicated chassis which lowers the rear center of gravity even more than the stock Promaster height, as well as the design of the suspension. Look at the difference:




AL-KO's design seems a bit better than the stock Promaster rear beam axle. It has independent torsion bar springs with air spring helpers, and a regular damper:


It is offered in single and dual axle formats:




http://www.al-ko.co.uk/pages/system-description---assembly-5.html
http://www.al-ko.co.uk/edit/files/downloads/al-ko-amc-commercial-brochure-2010.pdf


Unfortunately, AL-KO suspensions are for OE's only and not for aftermarket sales.


Drive Rite is another firm that offers an air spring replacement for the rear suspension, but little detail is on their site:




http://www.driveriteair.com/catalog/search/product/DR.04.013202-66/?manufacturerId=10&modelId=140&yearId=181&categoryId=46&isSearch=true


The German motorhome specialist, Reimo, also has a variety of air spring replacements and helpers, but their website is hard to sort as it really doesn't have an English version:



http://www.reimo.com/en/D-accessories_store/DR-motorhome_technology/DRM-suspension_stands/





 

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Discussion Starter #2
Since AL-KO does not use the FIAT chassis, I think they only purchase the cabs. Either they have an ingenious method of factory delivery, or it is a neat method of advertising at trade shows:





 

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good write up keith, really appreciate it...

I thought the ProMaster wasn't going to come in 4WD


thats about as pure 4WD you can get ;) LOLL
 

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air suspension isn't a bad idea if you want to carry huge heavy loads. but with these larger loads I'd worry about the FWD being an issue or the engine not being able to pull the load effectively.

these systems probably cost a pretty penny
 

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I'm sure theres aftermarket air ride, but carryon is right, from a mnaufacturer perspective air ride is costly to outfit, and maddening to fix. Likely headaches Ram didnt want to deal with as the Promasters begin to age..

Remember the old Lincolns with air ride. Once they hit 5-10yrs old the air suspension started to go on them...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yes I had a friend with a Lincoln where the entire air suspension blew out, lol!
It seems that the market for these suspensions excludes freight vans, and is targeted toward the RV and passenger van market.

I suspect that like all tech, it has gotten more durable, as the new 14' Ram has the option for air rides:
http://www.allpar.com/model/ram/2013-ram.html

 

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fortunately the air systems on commercial vehicles like these can take a beating, much unlike what's found in passenger vehicles.

I know some people that have commercial and passenger vehicles with air systems that get used year-round and never fail.

Maybe lincoln did a crappy job?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
FIAT Commercial in UK offer air suspension (as std?) on the passenger version of the Ducato:



It would be great if RAM offers the air suspension option in 2015.

ps, this looks similar to the VB suspension
 

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Another plus to air suspension is even easier loading and unloading, you would be able to lower the vehicle a bit. Do you know what kind of suspensions setup the ProMaster has standard? Leaf spring?
 

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I contacted VB Airsuspension, and asked them whether their Ducato FullAir suspension system (the one that replaces the leaf springs with trailing arms, not just adds helper air-bags) is applicable to the ProMaster. They said yes it is.

They apparently have a limited number of "VB-Partners" in the USA (at this moment anyway; I suspect their business will grow with the increased US sales of European-type vans, e.g., Sprinter, Transit, ProMaster). I live in eastern Pennsylvania, but was advised that the closest one to me is near Cleveland, Ohio. This really looks like a great system, though, and worth the potential inconvenience.
 

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Fiat Ducato can be ordered in Europe with the optional self leveling pneumatic suspensions.
There are also two button that allow to rise or lower (about 2"3/4) the rear tfor better loading/unloading.
Here the link to the owner manual section
http://www.fiat-service.nl/instructieboekjesoverige/boekjes/Fiat/open_Ducato 250/603.46.965 Ducato 250 luchtvering.PDF

Goldschmitt is another brand that has air suspension for the Ducato.

The RV version of the Ducato is a little bit different from standard, for example rear track is larger, suspension different, specific camper tyres, ...
More in the dedicated RV Ducato website: http://www.fiatcamper.com/product/handling
 

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Discussion Starter #16
If you price out the parts from FIAT directly, it will cost about $8k. I bet if it was an option for air bags (rear only), the option cost would be $2-4k only....

the one company from europe that was mentioned earlier wants $6500 us, for the rear
kit...yikes
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Your link is a helper spring system, which is different than the Ducato system, which deletes the leaf springs for trailing arms.

The Ducato system also has a dedicated ecu for controlling ride height, and an air pump for raising and lowering the rear end, as well as maintaining ride level.

 

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Your link is a helper spring system, which is different than the Ducato system, which deletes the leaf springs for trailing arms.

The Ducato system also has a dedicated ecu for controlling ride height, and an air pump for raising and lowering the rear end, as well as maintaining ride level.
For sure, I understand that there are more components but as far as these air bags go, are they good? Anything to look for when purchasing a system?
 

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This product...

http://m.ebay.ca/itm/261422063504?nav=SEARCH

... misses the fundamental benefit of air suspension, which is to maintain a consistent ride height regardless of load. A second, and also missed benefit, of true air suspension is the ability to manually achieve a full-down position (to minimize the angle of a loading ram, or step-in height when working out of a parked van) and a full-up position (to minimize the offset to a dock, or to reduce bending over when loading sheet goods flat from a cart).

The stock ProMaster is already able to achieve its GAWR with no helper air-springs. Unfortunately, the way it does this is to have a rather high (and awkward appearing) unloaded ride height. I don't see any value of adding this system to a stock ProMaster suspension. Maybe if you were planning to overload it (beyond the GAWR), these might help a bit. You also might use these in combination with re-arched leaf springs (or with a leaf removed) to try to lower the stock ride height when empty, while maintaining the GAWR. But, this gets a little sketchy in terms of determining how much to weaken the stock springs.

Yes, the European Ducato air-suspension option and the VB Airsuspension system are expensive, but they look like well-engineered, fully-integrated systems. They appear quite similar, so I wonder whether VB Airsuspension is the OEM supplier to Fiat for the Ducato system. In any event, as they say, you get what you pay for.
 
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