Bad Experience with Installer
We had worked on numerous hydraulic equipped cars, and saw it very much as the way forward for the modified cars we build. When one of our customers asked us about having air, we were happy to source for him a specialist able to carry out the work. We looked on the Internet, read magazine articles, and in the end chose a company that is not a million miles away from us, and seemed (according to the mags) to have the best reputation in the country.
I am not afraid to admit when I am wrong – in this case choosing this “company” to install air for our customer was a real mistake. I was wrong.
We took the quite valuable (£18,000) car to this company and left it for the air to be installed. We were told it would take around a week. It took three, but this was not an issue, we just wanted the car done right.
I went to collect the car, paid in full, and was refused a receipt. In addition payment had to be made to the gentleman’s wife (as he did not have a bank account). This was quite an expensive item to build, and not having a receipt for the work, is a real problem for a business. We have since learnt that this man never gives receipts and normally does “cash” deals to avoid having to come up with an excuse. The second problem associated with this type of payment is that you get no receipt, and also have no guarantee!!!
I paid, discussed the conversion, the gentleman showed the car working (rather slower than anticipated at 20 seconds to lift), but it did the job we wanted. He said he had road tested it and it drove really well.
His workshop (a shed in the garden) is in the middle of no-where, and near quite a long smooth and straight road. As I left the car felt different and took a little getting used to (no surprise really), but the rear end seemed “wrong”. As soon as I got to some bumps and turns it was definitely wrong – bouncing around, crashing, and making some nasty noises – it felt very loose.
We immediately took the car back, and he jacked it up, to check what was wrong. After a bit of investigating it turned out that several bolts had not been tightened, including all top rear shock absorber mounts which were not attached to the car at all.
He did not think this was unusual, unacceptable, or a serious problem, and in fact thought it was funny!! I did not.
I drove the car some 60 miles to our workshop, and was reasonably impressed. The handling was better then expected, it cleared everything we met, and seemed to corner very well. Just as we got to the workshop there was a horrible scrapping, gouging noise, and I stopped immediately. Upon inspecting the rear of the car the source of the noise was obvious – the rear wheel on the drivers side was touching the bodywork at the top.
Further investigation showed that the rear arm had bent, buckled and caused the wheel to be damaged and hit the bodywork. We got a recovery truck, and recovered the car to our workshop.
Upon jacking the car up and getting underneath we could not believe what we saw. This so called air and hydraulic suspension specialist had so little knowledge of suspension systems that in order to mount the air bags he had welded the top and bottom suspension arms together!!!
These arms are different lengths, and arm mounted different distances apart at the front and rear – they move around different arcs. By welding them together the suspension had in fact been removed – its why the rear felt so solid – the suspension was in fact the arms bending!!! when we went over a bump the arms flexed to take the load, until they could take it no more and buckled.
Upon reporting the problem, once again I was not met with any degree of shock, or surprise. I was told to buy some more BMW arms (£200 per side), and return the car.
When I suggested that I should not have to buy the new arms or wheel, I was told quite clearly that if I did not then he would not “try again”, to finish the job – not much choice then.
I returned the car on a transporter (£600 retail), with the new arms (£200), and left it for another week. I then went back to collect the car.
The car seemed to be sorted – the air bags had been mounted correctly, the shock absorbers were tight, and I headed off in the hope that the job was now completed after several attempts.
I got around 10 miles down the road when I noticed that the air pressure had dropped considerably. I pumped it up again, and a few miles later again. On the way back this got worse and worse, until I ended up with my hand on the button constantly in order to get the car to stay at a driveable height.
I was a little reluctant to take the car back given our experiences to date, and so just persevered, until it would not stay up. Once again I recovered the car on transporter to our workshop. Immediately phoned the fitter, and it was clear that he was not interested – telling us that they all lose a little air and not to worry – it would get better over time.
We gave up with him.
The next day and after having already spent over £3500 with this so called specialist, we took a good look at the install. It took 8 hours to chase down and solve all the leaks present on the system, including two that were unions he had welded in place – he could not even do an airtight weld!
Upon further investigation we found several other issues that were simply not right including:-
- Air lines that were catching on wheels.
- Air lines that were chafing on bodywork.
- Plastic airline right next to the to exhaust.
- Compressor less than 2 inches from exhaust.
- Controller and gauge mounted out of drivers sight.
- Metal added to rear suspension had very poor welds, was left totally unpainted, and rusting already.
Then it really put the cherry right on top to find that the Firestone components used for the system were really low specification, had a 7% duty cycle – should only be used once every 2 hours!!! were in fact designed and specified for adjusting the height of the vehicle once a week, and were not designated for use as the sole spring on the car.
The person whom we chose to install the air is a well known person within the industry, but it is mind boggling to experience his total lack of knowledge and respect for basic safety on a vehicle he was happy to let people drive.
A little later down the line the initially quite solid suspension suddenly softened up, and became very loose, in particular the steering. Investigation showed that he had totally failed to take into account the fact that THE FRONT WHEELS HAVE TO STEER!!
The front struts were constructed in such a manner that no provision was made for it to steer – the top did not have a bearing system so that the strut could articulate (turn) when you turned the steering. The standard car has a thrust bearing assembly, but the centre of the damper can turn, so its not an issue – when you install air, the top is fixed via the airbag, and can no longer turn – if you simply reassemble it with the original components, there is no provision for steering!
The result was that for a while the steering was very heavy – the articulation of the strut was achieved by forcing the rubber mount to turn – hard work which resulted in the heavy steering. After a time this simply sheared the mount off from the metal to which it is bonded, with the result that the steering lightened and became loose. Of course it became loose because the entire front suspension was no longer actually attached to the front of the car – only sitting on the mount which was now separate from the metal carrier.
When we inspected the compressor used it turned out to be the cheapest of the cheap, with a 7% duty cycle, and maximum pressure of 100psi, and was not even designed for use with a tank (it had been installed with a tank). Its not much of a surprise to find that it did not last! We tend to use 100% duty cycle compressors for most installations.
If you look into air suspension this is the most important safety part – worse still even after we made the supplier aware of the defective design – he still supplies it to this day, and does not understand the problem.
It took a further 8 hours to correct the install. The customer was happy with the result, but the next time someone asked about an air kit, we decided that it would actually take less time to install the kit ourselves – it did, and it worked first time.
After this customers would book their car in for a bodykit, or respray, and often see one of the air powered cars, or might have heard about one we had done, and without any effort, or marketing this gradually became something we did more and more until we seem to have become something of a specialist.
We have now heard from quite a few people with the same story regarding the same supplier. It is a great shame because poor quality work like this gives air a bad name. Well installed, correctly chosen, quality air suspension can be a real pleasure to drive and own. A bad system is nothing but trouble and is potentially life threatening.
from client of this person (we were asked to supply parts to make his “install” safe). this guy really knew what he was talking about and took the job on himself of making it work. Never having installed air before he managed to resolve all the [problems *** had not, despite *** holding himself out as an expert.
“If you knew how much time, money and effort the so call expert had cost me you mite understand why I call him a cowboy! The reason I when to him in the first place is because if his many features in mags! If you look further into air ride systems and speak to more people who install systems you will hear the same story from them! After paying nearly 3k for the system to be fitted I would expect it to work properly and more importantly be safe!! This was not the case. It’s has cost me another grand and a lot of work to get it workin properly and safely! Now the man in question comes across as a very nice fella but his workmanship and engineering skills leave a lot to be desired!! I could go on but I think I’ll leave my rant there!!”
from a client of this person, who asked us for parts to make his vehicle safe.
“You could say I was ****ed off with this mother ****ing arsehole. After being left in France with my car on fire because items he installed has rubbed and caught fire with my kids in the back of the car, I pretty much wanted to kill the man. I would have sued him, but he never gives receipts, never takes anything but cash, and its hard to prove you even dealt with him at all.”
from a previous client who asked us to start from scratch as nothing installed by this person was suitable for re-use.
“*** did my VW van, but it was just a mess. It rode awfully, things caught and things simply broke. after about 5 trips backwards and forwards we pretty much gave up on him, as he was still unable to cure what he was calling teething problems. I’m still committed to air if it can be installed to handle well, drive nicely and get my van low. Of course it goes without saying (or at least should) that it must also be safe and legal.”
self evident from Forum
“Yea best advive i can give is DO NOT SPEAK TO RAYVERN under any circumstances he will take your money and supply you with a micky mouse set up and not answer your calls once he has your money.I have had to deal with this charlatan several times for customers that have been mislead by him and robbed“
If you want air on your car then please feel free to contact me to discuss your requirements – I promise that you will not have the bumpy ride (in more ways than one) that I did when we first got involved in air.
I am often asked to “correct” this individuals work, or supply parts to bring the kits he supplies up to a safe specification. We are happy to accept this work, but would prefer him to learn his trade, and stop putting peoples lives at risk in the first place. It is always cheaper in the long run to fit the correct parts in the first place. Just because someone is featured in a magazine does not mean their work is good, or safe. It just means the magazine liked the look of the vehicle. They are not mechanical engineers and do not inspect the work.