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AIR LIFT’S LOAD LIFTER 7500 XL FOR ’17 SUPER DUTY FORDS

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As payload and towing capacities for newer trucks continue to rise, owners are looking to haul more cargo than ever before. But as the real-world often reminds us, just because a truck is rated to handle a given amount of weight doesn’t guarantee everything will go off without a hitch (no pun intended). Excessive tongue weight, an unleveled payload, or an improperly positioned load can lead to a truck that squats, rides uncomfortably, and suffers from poor braking, steering, or headlight aim. To eliminate (or vastly reduce) any of the latter instances from occurring, thousands of truck owners have begun to turn to airspring suspension systems.

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With 7,500 pounds of load leveling capability, Air Lift’s Load Lifter 7500 XL series is a significant upgrade over the company’s Load Lifter 5000 systems (named for their 5,000-pound rating). In keeping with the rest of its air spring systems, the 7500 XL requires no drilling and comes with all necessary bracketry, braces, and hardware to perform the install. While Flynn’s Shop installed a system on a ’17 Ford Super Duty for this story, the 7500 XL is also available for 2011-16 Super Duties, 2011-17 Chevy/GMC HDs, 2003-13 Ram 2500 models, and 2003-17 Ram 3500s.

Made by Goodyear, the commercialgrade, double-convolute air springs included in the Air Lift Load Lifter 7500 XL system employ layers of rubber and cords to control growth. Their 7-inch diameter (vs. the 6-inch diameter in Load Lifter 5000 systems) provides 20 percent more air spring volume and allows greater leveling strength at lower pressures. Essentially, good ride quality can still be enjoyed no matter the load with the Load Lifter 7500 XL system.

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Using a two-post lift, the folks at Flynn’s Shop raised the ’17 F-350 in a way that relaxed the rear suspension and allowed the axle to drop away from the frame. Then they got started by unbolting the bump stops (shown) and removing their respective clip-in studs from the frame with a flat head screwdriver.

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In place of the OEM clip-in studs, the supplied universal nuts were installed in the frame rail. Two M10-1.5 x 35mm button head cap screws thread into each universal nut, which effectively attaches the included upper chassis brackets to the frame rails.

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With the supplied 3/8-inch x 1.25-inch carriage bolts inserted in the upper chassis brackets and the brackets’ large cut-outs facing inward, the aforementioned button head cap screws were installed and torqued to 38 ft-lb. Piecing together both air spring assemblies would come next.

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We were pleasantly surprised to find the supplied swivel elbow fittings pre-wrapped with Teflon tape. For extra insurance, the guys at Flynn’s added a light coat of sealant in addition to the existing Teflon tape, and then threaded them into the top of each air spring.

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Once a roll plate had been placed on top of each air spring, the upper air spring brackets were installed. Here, the driver-side assembly is shown on the right and the passenger-side unit on the left.

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A pair of 10-inch-long, 3/8-inch carriage bolts anchor the lower portion of the air spring assemblies to the axle, with the aid of clamp bars and nylon lock nuts. In this photo, the supplied 3/8-inch x 7/8-inch hex bolts that secure the lower bracket to the air spring are being torqued to 20 ft-lb.

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The roll plates that come with the Air Lift Load Lifter 7500 XL kit are responsible for increasing load capacity by up to 10 percent. An additional hidden benefit is that they protect the air springs from possible abrasion.

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Air Lift’s Load Lifter 7500 XL kit only carries one part number for ’17 Super Duties (PN 57599), but comes with three different lower leg adapters for the lower air spring bracket—with each one being specific to a different truck model (F-250, F-350, or F-450). In order to install the correct adapter, the rear axle tube’s diameter must be measured. Being that our truck was an F-350, it came equipped with a 4.0-inch diameter axle (vs. 3.5-inch on the F-250 and 4.5-inch on the F-450).

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Next, the air spring assemblies were flipped over, fitted with a roll plate, and then the lower bracket cups were fastened to the lower brackets’ main plates (shown). The lower bracket cup is where the air spring assembly rides on the factory bump stop perch (i.e., striker plate).

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This is what the lower leg adapter looks like once installed. It’s a brace that adds support to the lower air spring mounting bracket and spans the distance from the bracket to the axle.

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On trucks equipped with anti-sway bars, possible trimming of the front 10-inch carriage bolt may be required. This wasn’t the case in our install, but might be on other ’17 Super Duty trucks.

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Once the lower bracket cup was in position on the bump stop perch and the lower bracket was flush against the leaf spring stack, the driver-side air spring assembly was set in place. After the guys at Flynn’s confirmed that the lower bracket flanges were locked around the truck’s factory U-bolts, the supplied U-bolts were added as well (shown). One U-bolt effectively anchors each air spring assembly to its respective leaf spring pack.

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Cinching everything down comes by way of a clamp bar, which installs over the 10-inch-long carriage bolts and mates flush against the axle tube. The supplied 3/8-inch nylon lock nuts that secure the clamp bar get torqued to 16 ft-lb.

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Utilizing the plastic air line supplied in the Air Lift kit, the guys at Flynn’s used compressed air to effectively raise the air springs up so that they could be connected to the upper chassis brackets. Otherwise, the truck would’ve had to have been lowered to the ground (and the suspension compressed).

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With the springs aired up, installing the supplied 3/8-inch nylon lock nuts to the upper chassis bracket carriage bolts was a piece of cake. Like the 3/8-inch nuts on the clamp bar, they too were torqued to 16 ft-lb.

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It’s worth noting that a ’17 Super Duty equipped with a 5-inch-diameter aftermarket exhaust system and a conventional-exit tailpipe may have clearance issues near the passenger-side top roll plate. This is because of the larger roll plates being used to accommodate the larger diameter air springs in the Load Lifter 7500 XL system. From what we observed in our install, 4-inch aftermarket exhaust systems should be fine.

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This burly upper frame brace reinforces the passenger-side air spring assembly. On trucks equipped with a factory-installed fifth-wheel hitch, installation of this brace calls for the removal of the the fifthwheel bracket hardware.

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The upper frame brace anchors to the frame by way of the supplied 4.5-inch-long, 5/8-inch Grade 8 bolts and the corresponding nuts and washers. The guys at Flynn’s torqued the upper frame brace bolts to 50 ft-lb. Like the driver side upper frame brace, 3/8-inch nylon lock nuts were used to tighten the frame brace to the upper chassis bracket.

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With both air spring assemblies in place, each fastener was torqued for the final time. The axle tube vent (driver side) was then zip-tied to a soft brake line to ensure it never comes into contact with the driver side air spring. Then it was time to route the air lines and install the wireless control system.

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For hassle-free operation and utmost convenience, the truck’s owner opted for Air Lift’s Wireless Air Control System (PN 72000), which features an onboard air compressor, air manifold, air line, wire harness, and (of course) a wireless controller. The Wireless Air system is universal and can work in conjunction with any Air Lift kit, or any aftermarket air spring system for that matter.

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Thanks to its compact size, the heavy-duty compressor can be mounted just about anywhere under the truck. The guys at Flynn’s chose to place it in front of the fuel tank, along the inside portion of the driver side frame rail. Mounting the compressor required four 7/32” holes being drilled in the frame.

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Weather-resistant and equipped with a filter that drains automatically, the air manifold supplied in the Wireless Air kit can keep pressure inside the springs within 3 psi of one another. And thanks to the supplied harness plugging into the manifold, the only time-consuming portion of wiring the system up entailed tapping into the truck’s ignition circuit for a 15-amp power source.

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The Wireless Air controller provides complete control at your fingertips. Beyond the easy-to-read LCD screen, programmable settings can be established (for the trailers or loads you haul most often), pressure adjustments can be made on the fly, and any leaks or other problems can be relayed to the driver through the handheld device.

Air Lift recently debuted its strongest air spring kit yet: the Load Lifter 7500 XL system. Offering up to 7,500 pounds of load-leveling capacity, it’s designed to support the largest loads on the road. We stopped by Flynn’s Shop in Alexander, Illinois, where a ’17 F-350 was being fitted with the Load Lifter 7500 XL. Read on to see why this is the new king of the hill in aftermarket air spring systems.DW