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1999 Chevy C3500 Silverado Rear Air Suspension - PSI Ride

Find Your Truck's Inner Truck Again With An Air Suspension

Mike Finnegan
Feb 1, 2009
Photographers: Mike Finnegan, Steven Rupp
Photo 2/24   |   1999 Chevy Silverado Rear Air Suspension 1999 Chevy Silverado
When is a 1-ton truck not a 1-ton truck? When you put a 5/7 drop kit on it and do nothing to restore the load-carrying capability that you lost with the flip kit or de-arched leaf springs. That was the case with this '99 Chevy C3500 model sport truck, which looks like it has been trapped in a time machine for the last decade. This Silverado, which sports a timeless look with its dropped stance, 60-series rubber surrounding Alcoa rims, and a full-length shell, has all the payload capacity of a stock Toyota mini-truck.
Even with a healthy Bell Tech C-notch and a professionally installed lowered suspension, a few hundred pounds tossed into the bed would have this truck bottoming out over every dip and bump in the road. The suspension was also so mushy that on flat ground the Caddy-like ride felt good, but over the rough stuff the '60s-Bel-Air-floating-over-a-set-of-railroad-tracks feeling was not. Something had to be done.
We looked to Air Ride Technologies to inject a little psi life back into this truck's rear suspension so that it could act like a truck when necessary, and roll smoothly down Southern California's freeways every other day. The solution came in the form of the company's ARK4900 "air over leaf kit," which positions a pair of 255C-model double convoluted air springs directly behind the axle and on top of the leaf springs. We also installed an ARC1600 "two-way compressor system," which gave us the ability to alter the air pressure within the 'bags on the fly.
We took our truck to Industrial Motoring in Placentia, California to have the kit professionally installed. The whole deal took less than eight hours and was a fairly painless operation. The system required zero fabrication on our part and once installed, offered up a ride we could tailor to our liking and also boosted the truck's payload capacity. In short, we got a better-handling vehicle that we could once again refer to as a real truck. Check it out.
What's In The Box?
The ARK4900 comes with upper and lower mounts, airbags and Grade 5 mounting hardware. The ARC1600 completes the install with two-way paddle controls, a dual-needle air gauge, and a stout compressor that will fill both 'bags in minutes. No reserve air tank is necessary with this kit because of the small volume of the pair of 'bags and 1/4-inch diameter air lines.
The Final Word
This system cures the three main gripes we have with lowered 1-ton sport trucks. First off, they tend to lean toward the driver's side. Since this system offers independent control of the air pressure in both 'bags, that's easily fixed. Second, this truck can now carry a heavy load and tow a trailer without bottoming out. As little as 30 psi in the rear 'bags carries an additional 300 pounds of cargo with ease, and the system is capable of forcing well over 100 psi into the 'bags for hauling really heavy stuff. Third, this truck rides and handles beautifully now. With only atmospheric pressure (14.7) in the 'bags, we noticed a firmer feel in the rear suspension right away. Push another 10 psi into the 'bags and the dualie exhibited less leaning into the corners and the mushy feeling was gone from the suspension. The only negative we could find with this system was that we'll now have to unbolt the 'bags from the upper mounts to jack up the chassis off the ground.


Industrial Motoring
Anaheim, CA 92806



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