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How to Adjust Air Shocks on a Car

How to Adjust Air Shocks on a Car

How To Adjust Air Shocks On A Car

Air shocks are a vital part of your vehicle’s air suspension, and it’s important to know your way around them. According to Monroe, air shocks provide comfort by preventing bouncy rides, which is only one of their many functions. We know that adjusting your air shocks will most likely improve comfort when using your car. But how exactly can you do that? 

Note that adjusting air shocks on a car does not require technical expertise. We trust that with the steps in this article, you will be able to adjust air shocks properly by yourself. So, if you want to find out how the adjustment is made, this article has all you need.  

Other things discussed in this article include the following:

  • How to install air shocks 
  • What are the common symptoms of failing air shocks 
  • How to adjust ride height 

How To Adjust Air Shocks On A Car: A Step-by-step Guide

The first thing you must note here is that the adjustment determines how hard or soft the shock gets. This affects your ride quality significantly. Also, there are several adjustment methods depending on the type of shocks you use. Hence, we will start with the button-type rebound adjustable shocks. 

Here is all you have to do to adjust your air shocks.  

Adjusting Button-Type Adjustable Shocks 

  • Pull down the plastic protective cap over the air shock 

Pulling down the plastic protective cap will extend the damper and reveal the adjuster button. 

  • Place your fingertip on the button and turn the piston rod

You can use your fingertip or any small tool to depress the button. 

  • Turn clockwise for a firmer shock or more damping force 

Note that the button will go down in position once the piston rod is engaged. 

  • Turn anticlockwise for a softer shock and less rebound damping force 

Do not forget that the button-type rebound adjustable shock has four control/adjustment positions. That means you will feel three clicks when you turn the piston rod.  

  • Once done with your adjustments, compress the piston rod slightly 

This will ensure that the depressed button pops back up. 

Knob Air Shock Adjustment 

  • Place a knob under the adjuster tab at the back of the vehicle 

Ensure that the knob is placed firmly over the adjuster tab by putting the slot securely in the bottom of the knob. 

  • Turn the knob for adjustment.

Turning the knob clockwise creates less rebound damping force by making the shocks softer. Conversely, turning the knob counterclockwise will create more rebound damping force and firmer dampers. 

  • Don’t force the adjuster tab when it gets to full force 

The adjuster will stop turning when it gets to the full soft or firm force. Stop turning once it gets there. 

  • Slightly turn the adjuster back.

This should only be done when you adjust the shocks to the total maximum or minimum force. Turning it back slightly from the full force will prevent adjuster congestion/jamming.  

Once you are done adjusting your shocks, you can take your car for a drive to see how effective your adjustment is. 

How To Install Air Shocks 

Installing air shocks on your vehicle could be one of the best decisions you make for your air suspension system. Getting an improved ride height and a better ride quality can make even an old car appear new while behind the wheel. This is what air shocks do; renew the feel of a vehicle. So, if you are looking to install the new air shocks yourself, some materials needed to get the job done are the hydraulic jack and jack stands, ratchet and socket sets, drill and ¼ bits, and wrenches. 

Follow these steps to install air shocks on your vehicle. 

  • Lift the vehicle 

To install some new air shocks to your vehicle, you must first raise the car with a hydraulic jack and jack stands. Ensure you do this carefully and support the rear axle so that the vehicle rests securely on the stands. 

  • Take the wheel off

Ensure you remove the rear wheel cautiously. 

  • Locate the lower air shock bolt and nut 
  • Disconnect the electronic air suspension connector and the air leveler hose fitting 
  • Remove the upper shock absorber nut and bolt. 
  • Remove the air shock. 

Once you uninstall the bad/old air shock, you can install the new one by doing the reverse order. 

  • Place the shocks in the vehicle. 
  • Put the upper shock bolt. 
  • Install the upper shock nut and tighten it
  • Connect the electronic air connector and air leveler hose fitting 
  • Confirm that the electronic air connector and air leveler hose fitting are placed properly
  • Securely install and tighten the lower shock absorber nut and bolt.
  • Take the jack stand off the rear axle. 
  • Take off the support and lower the car.

Note that once the air shock is installed, you need to put air into it to operate it. Ideally, you should have at least 20 PSI in your air shocks.  

What Are The Most Common Symptoms Of Failing Air Shocks? 

Air shocks owing to their enormous impact in absorbing the road pressures and impact, can get faulty. When the air shocks get faulty, your car's ride quality and height will be compromised. So, to avoid the obvious, you will need to regularly inspect every part of the air suspension system (especially the air shocks). Maintenance practices can help prevent the problem (that’s if it is not caused by your shock absorber outliving its lifespan). 

Nonetheless, the following are some common signs of bad or failing air shocks. 


The air shocks could start looking oily, which could indicate leakage. Leaking fluids from the seal mean that something is amiss. When you notice this, visit the right experts to get things checked and resolved. 

Poor ride quality 

The shock absorber helps keep your vehicle on the ground and balances it. So, logically poor ride quality would be the first thing to look out for in detecting air shock problems. Once the shocks get faulty, the car's weight will no longer be firmly held up. Also, ride comfort decreases significantly.  

Cracks on tires

Several other factors can cause tire wear, but when there are several spots on your tires, you can be sure that it is an air shock problem. This tire wear is called cupping because the wears or spots are not even or uniform. Instead, the spots are on multiple parts of the tire(s). These bad air shocks along with the already damaged tires, would be susceptible to bumpy roads. This further damages the tires and shock absorbers.  

Vibrating steering wheel

Normally, a mild vibration from the steering wheel should not signify a major problem. But if you get these vibrations very often and even when you are driving on a smooth road, then check the shocks. The major role of the shock absorber is to keep your vehicle on the ground and maintain a smooth drive. If the contrary is the case and your steering constantly vibrates, visit the mechanic or expert as soon as you can. 

You should note that bad air shocks are a call for concern since they affect the overall safety and quality of your drive. Hence it is important that once a problem is detected with your air shocks, you visit the mechanic to get it fixed or replaced. You don’t want one air shock problem leading to a general air suspension malfunction. So, get it inspected and fixed as soon as you can. 

How to Adjust Ride Height

The air suspension system is the compartment of comfort in a vehicle. Without air suspensions, you would have bumpy rides and vibrations. Also, one typical function of the air suspension system is the ride height quality and adjustment. This helps to keep your vehicle off the ground with the help of specific air suspension components. So, if you are looking to adjust your ride height, here is how to go about it. It is not overly technical. 

First off, you need to know that the normal ride height (NRH) contains 8.7 inches or 221 millimeters of clearance. Plus, you can adjust the ride height of your vehicle either automatically or manually. Nonetheless, here is how it is done. 

Use the air suspension toggle/console.

You manually set it to the desired height here, raising or lowering the car accordingly. 

Use a key fob 

It achieves the same results as the air suspension toggle. 

You can try installing coil spring overs. 

This is another step that most car owners take to adjust their ride heights. You can install the coil overs by yourself. If not, employ professional help. But this is not advisable when you have active air suspension. Nevertheless, it is an option to consider.  


Air shocks support the weight of the vehicle and also provide comfort while driving. However, the comfort provided is compromised when they get faulty. This is one reason you should inspect your shocks frequently to ensure they are in good shape. Then if there are telltale signs of malfunctioning shocks, get it fixed as soon as you can. You can also check out our store for replacements.

Also, this article has shown you how to make the best of your air shocks while they are still working. All the steps provided here on how to adjust and install your air shocks are not too technical. All you have to do is follow the instructions and use the right tools. So, get working on a better ride quality by installing, adjusting, and inspecting your air shocks.  


For more knowledgeable content on these kind of matter:

How To Install The Lincoln Mark Viii Air Suspension Parts

Common Cadillac Escalade Air Suspension Problems

Air Suspension: Everything You Need to Know

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