Winterizing and storage bring up a lot of questions about the water lines, batteries, and generators. These are the main areas people think about when prepping their rig for storage. There are some features on your RV that you may not even realize are there, until they stop working. One of them is the air suspension system. Many luxury motorhomes offer this type of suspension to keep you feeling like you’re driving a town car rather than a 12,000+ lb motorhome. As soon as you are without this system, you will begin to feel every bump on the road which can seriously affect the way that your rig handles. So make sure you’re taking care of this system, especially when you’re storing for any amount of time.
How the Air Suspension System Works
In a rig with an air suspension system, it essentially rides on air bags instead of coils. These air bags can fill and deflate during the ride to compensate for different angles and bumps. This is an automatic process that operates using a compressor and a holding tank, allowing the motorhome to remain level on uneven ground. For example, as you go around the corner, the outside bags will fill up to keep the rig from leaning too far over. Some of these systems give you control over the height of your motorhome so you can adjust to the amount of weight you have in it or lower it when parked to make it easier to get in and out.
Winterizing Your Airbags
The compressor that fills these bags runs off the engine and it fills a holding tank with air to be used when it is needed. Without the engine running, the compressor does not run and therefore does not fill the holding tank. Once the rig is parked, the bags and tank will slowly lose pressure and they will deflate over time. The area you want to be concerned with is the holding tank itself. Compressed air will create condensation that can collect in the holding tank. You don’t want this water that has collected in there freezing and then causing damage over the winter. Ensure that you deflate the airbags, and then empty the water from the holding tank. Don’t worry about deflating the bags too much. There is a pillar inside of them that keeps the bags from compressing too far and causing damage. In fact, you should be emptying the tank once a month on a regular basis. This will prevent the tank from rusting from the inside out, resulting in it no longer being able to hold in air.
While there isn’t a lot you need to do to care for your air system, doing the few steps stated above is important. If your air system stops working, it will affect not only your suspension, but your breaks as well. The simple answer to “should you empty your airbags for winter storage?” is yes, but also make sure to empty the holding tank from the dump valve as well.