It is a great idea. An air bag added to your suspension should help smooth out your ride. Sometimes it does, and sometimes problems creep in and spoil it while making you think you wasted your money. There are advantages and disadvantages to these newer suspension systems.
The most common problem we came across, and there are not many, is that the weld on this suspension system is not what it should be. There are complaints about how the weld cracks or breaks. Another problem that has been reported is the bad customer service.
To learn more about this suspension system, just continue to read our article. It explores the issue so you have the best information possible. Then you can make an informed decision on upgrading to this system or not.
The following information is taken from the Kelderman website:
“Kelderman Manufacturing is a Midwestern producer of aftermarket air suspension systems for ¾ ton and larger trucks. Based in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Kelderman has over 50 years of experience with agricultural and automotive products.
Our family-owned business was built on Midwestern values and continues to operate with those beliefs to this day. In 1990, Gary Kelderman bought a new Cummins Ram right off the showroom floor.
He was so dissatisfied with the way it rode that he parked it for several months to develop a solution for the rough riding Ram truck. Those months of fabrication and design ended with the creation of the Kelderman 2-Stage Rear Air Suspension.
A design that is still in production today, Gary’s creation made the truck ride like he really wanted it to. Over the next 25 years, Kelderman developed additional air suspension designs for pickup trucks, chassis cab trucks, RVs, trailers, and even full air suspension lift kits.”
We could not describe the company any better than that. What we found is that this product seems to have a very good reputation with very few dissenters.
The list we are about to provide was hard to find. The company seems to have a very good reputation as do its different products. There are very few people recording their bad experiences but we did manage to find a few that did. Most people speak well of the company and their products.
1. Potential of air bag failure- There have not been any recorded complaints but the potential for the air bags to fail is there. It is possible for them to get holes or burst and that may be due to user air or rough roads rather than a lack of quality construction.
In case your air bags fail, the company does have replacement ones on hand.
2. Welds break- This has been reported by more than one person. It seems that the suspension will break at the welds and may cause other damage. One owner had 3 welds break at different times and one of those times also took out the air conditioner evaporator.
3. Use wrong parts- It has been said that the company uses big rig parts for the control arm ends. This cuts down on the amount of flex the suspension should have. In turn, this lack of flex can crack a frame.
One owner had this happen and neither Dodge nor Kelderman will provide warranty service for the repair.
4. Can’t handle shocks- one owner reported that whenever he hit a pothole, the front sensor would break. That break came at the pivot point rendering the suspension useless at this point.
He said the company mounted the sensors wrong creating the problem. It seems that some of these parts are not that strong.
5. Misc. Failure- One owner reported that the suspension failed after only driving 1000 miles. Kelderman warranted the tow 300 miles both ways. The failure was so bad that the truck could not be driven.
This is a complicated system with many parts that could fail or break on you. It is also an expensive system so you may want to think twice about installing it.
The company’s website states that their product is the standard for a 4-link suspension system. To many owners who have had this system installed, they would agree with that claim.
The website also claims to build a quality product which means they should be using quality materials to construct their systems. However, there are many owners who have had their systems installed who would disagree with that claim.
It is going to be hit and miss with the products produced by this company. While they are made in the US and in Iowa, it seems that quality control may not be as thorough or as extensive as one would like to believe.
The customer reviews are mixed as the majority of people who have heard about or installed these systems have nothing but good things to say about them. However, there are enough bad experiences to warrant caution when considering spending the money to have the systems installed in your vehicle.
Some people have reported receiving bad customer service from the company so be forewarned that your experience with them may not turn out as you expected.
In the end, this air bag suspension system does not seem to be that much different from the many air bag systems also on the market. Kelderman may have invented it but so far it does not seem that the company has perfected the air bag system just yet.
On the company website linked above, you can find the cost of some of their products. The catch is that you have to click on the specialty products navigational link at the top of the web page and then click on the product you are looking for- which can be stock height, lifts, and so on.
When you do that, you have to put in the year, make, and model of your truck, etc., to get to the web page that has a price list. Some of those owners on the different discussion forums were not joking when they said it cost them $13,000 for a complete set.
Just for stock height, the price ranges from $2250 to $5000 just for the 2020 Chevy Silverado 2500. What this means is your cost will depend on your vehicle type and the year it was made.
There is no realistic way to quote a standard price for all makes and models of trucks, etc. To get the price quote for your vehicles, you have to follow those instructions that came earlier in this section.
The air-controlled systems are a little cheaper as they start at $975 and go over $5000 and we should mention that was only on page one of the many systems available.
Again, you would have to input your truck details to get an exact figure. The company sells accessories like remote controls, etc., and their cost is usually under $500. Unfortunately, there may only be 12 of these items for sale at those low prices.
We should mention this aspect of the company as they have dealers around the country. In the navigation bar at the top of the landing page, you will find the word Dealers there. Click on that link to go to the company’s dealer locator page.
You can either look at the map for a general idea of where their dealers are located or you can put your zip or postal code in the search box to get more detailed information about the location of each dealer.
Dealers are located in both America and Canada although the latter country is very sparsely populated when it comes to dealers. For America, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, and some of the Northeastern states do not have locations yet.
If you do not want to use the map, then underneath it is a very long list of the dealers in this company’s network. The company lists the different locations giving names, addresses, and states, as well as phone numbers and a link to their websites.
This is a very comprehensive and helpful bit of information. You should be able to find a dealer near you with little trouble.
This is going to depend on who you talk to. Some people love this system and enjoy the ride they get out of it. They feel the cost is money well spent and to them, that is all that matters.
Other owners who have the air system installed disagree with those other owners. They feel that the Kelderman system is the worst of all the air ride suspensions out there.
While one owner said the air suspension rode better than the stock height system, it was not $3500 better. The best thing to do to answer this question is for you to get some rides with a friend who has this system already installed.
Ask if you can drive the vehicle to get a better feel of the suspension system. When you are done driving or riding, then make up your own mind. Since you will be paying the big bucks, and have to answer to your wife after spending that money, you need to get a positive answer to this question.
Only you can make that determination for yourself. We do not feel the system is worth the large expense but there are videos on YouTube that disagree with our assessment.
From our research, more owners prefer Carli to Kelderman. They feel that the Carli systems are superior to the Kelderman options and that you get a better ride out of them.
They have also reported that if you go off-road a lot, Carli is the suspension you want. The reason they gave is that the people at Carli do a lot of off-roading and know what it takes to build a top-quality suspension for these experiences.
There are a few Kelderman supporters and owners who would disagree and claim that this company’s products are better than Carli’s. In the end, you will have to make up your own mind on this comparison.
Get the facts from both companies, read the reviews, and take some test drives with friends who have both systems installed. Then make up your own mind about which option will be best for your driving system.
That is the key. Since everyone’s driving situation is different one company will be better for some of them while the other company will be better for other situations.
Unfortunately, there is no troubleshooting information on the Kelderman website. No are there any websites popping up with troubleshooting tips or instructions.
What that tells us is that you have to let the Kelderman dealers handle all repair work for you. That may be because the company provides you with a 3-year warranty on some parts and a 1-year warranty on others. Here is what the warranty says:
“Kelderman Manufacturing, Inc. offers a 3 year or 100,000 mile Limited Warranty, parts and labor, to the original retail purchaser who owns the vehicle on which the unit was installed, for defects in materials and workmanship related to the fabricated parts.
Non fabricated parts such as air bags, air compressors, gauges, solenoid kits, and electronic air ride control systems are covered for 1 year or 50,000 miles for parts and 1 year or 25,000 miles for labor.”
When it comes to products like air bags, air lifts, and stock heights, the final determination is up to you. There are just too many individual tastes involved to provide any objective standard to compare these products.
What you like may not be what other people like. One of the good things in Kelderman’s favor is that their products are completely American-made. Another is, that their products seem to come with a top-notch reputation despite what some owners have experienced.