As one of the most classic BMW’s to hit the market, the E36 was and still is a favorite among car enthusiasts. The European styling and popularity of the E36 M3 really made an impact in the aftermarket and it doesn’t look like that fame is coming to an end anytime soon. Over the past few decades, we have seen just about everything thrown at the E36. From full-blown race setups to car show-winning setups. With the increase in popularity of air suspension, many E36 owners are choosing to swap out their lowering springs and coilovers for the more versatile air suspension.
Does the BMW E36 Have Air Suspension?
From the factory, BMW did not offer air suspension on the E36. In factory trim, these BMWs featured a started shock, spring, and strut setup commonly seen on everyday commuter vehicles. While this was great for your average daily driver, it was rather anemic for those who wanted to push the limits of the E36.
What Do I Need To Add Air Suspension To My BMW E36?
For those wanting to bag an E36, you can choose from a ready-to-install kit, or piece together a kit to get the specific, high-quality components you want. At AccuAir, we have put together this article to allow you to build out your own E36 kit using the best components.
Let’s start from the back of the vehicle to the front as this is where everything starts in an air suspension system. In order to get air to raise and lower your vehicle, you are going to need something to generate compressed air. Air suspension air compressors are used to compress air and send it to your air tank. A majority of air suspension users choose to go with 2 compressors for quicker air-on-demand. Here at AccuAir, we have put together a VIAIR Dual 485C air compressor kit to make things easier.
From the air compressor, your compressed air goes to the air suspension air tank where it is stored until you are ready to use it. You can choose between a variety of shapes and sizes for your air tank, but most are going to choose a 3 or 5-gallon tank in most applications. Here at AccuAir, we offer some of the best tanks in the industry: the ENDO air tanks. These tanks have been designed to solve common air tank issues and allow you to have a high-quality tank that outperforms the competition.
Air lines connect each of your air suspension components together and deliver your air throughout the system. Think of these as the veins of your air suspension system that route throughout your vehicle from the air compressor all the way to the air struts. Air suspension air line can be purchased in 50ft rolls to allow you to have plenty of lines to plumb your entire system.
A valve manifold might not be the first thing you think of when building out your air suspension kit, but it is certainly one of the most important. A valve manifold is usually made of aluminum and houses electronic valves that open and close when buttons are pushed on your air management system. These valves let air in and out to raise and lower your vehicle.
In order to control your air suspension kit, you are going to need a good air management system to make life a lot easier. At AccuAir, we provide some of the most technologically advanced and easy-to-use air management systems on the market. We have dedicated countless hours of research and development to manufacturing the highest-quality air suspension control systems money can buy.
When adding air suspension to your E36, the only factory components you will need to replace will be your shocks, struts, and springs. These will need to be replaced with air shocks. Air shocks are very similar to your factory shocks, but will feature air bladders, also known as air bags, instead of springs. These rubber bladders fill with air to raise your vehicle and deflate to lower your vehicle. These will be vehicle-specific, so you need to ensure that you purchase the correct air shocks for your vehicle.
Due to the nature of air suspension setups, compressed air can cause moisture buildup in your air tank and air lines. In order to prevent this, it is recommended to install a water trap or water filter. Moisture buildup in air suspension tanks can cause rust from the inside out on lesser quality air tanks. AccuAir's ENDO tanks are made to resist corrosion and protect against rust. Installing a water trap or filter is cheap insurance to ensure your air lines stay free of water and moisture, especially for those who live in areas where temperatures get below freezing.
While not necessary for an operational air suspension system, ride height sensors are one component that can make your life a lot easier. These sensors allow you to program specific ride heights and store them in your AccuAir air suspension management to allow you to get to your favorite ride heights at the push of a button.
Air Suspension Management For BMW E36
If you are looking to build an air suspension kit for your BMW E36, look no further than AccuAir. Our team is dedicated to building the best air suspension components with the highest quality materials. Our team can help you build your own kit in order to get everything you need to bag your E36.