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How do you know when the (an) air suspension is going out?

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Old 08-23-10, 07:00 PM   #1
aypues
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Default How do you know when the (an) air suspension is going out?

I think my right rear air suspension is going out. Whenever I hit a bump or something unusually uneven in the pavement I hear a thud coming from the right rear. Does this mean it is starting to go out? What else can I look for?
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Old 08-23-10, 07:27 PM   #2
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I don't have a 430 UL (or a 430...yet...lol), but from my experience with air, the rides turns into crap and then starts making funny noises. I drove a 1997 Lincoln Continental during high school. It had rear air suspension. We still have it (I am driving it for the transition time b/t my 3 series and 430) and I must say that the ride now is awful (it floats, but is choppy at the same time if that makes sense) and makes a bunch of weird squeaks (and other sounds) all the time. Really annoying. Worth it to change out on a rusted away car worth less than 2k? No. Worth it to change on a nice 430? Definitely.

I do hear a lot of people going to traditional steel springs. Give that a try. Should last longer and be cheaper to replace.
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Old 08-23-10, 08:12 PM   #3
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1996 Lincoln Continental was my very first car and I agree, the ride goes to hell if the air springs go out and of course, the car will begin to sag on the offending side(s). It starts out with a little sag after an overnight sit, and eventually parking for any amount of time will cause the sag until the compressor dies and the car stops leveling altogether.

Noise from the rear could be other things though, like bushings or joints of some kind. I don't know if the air suspension compressor on these cars is audible, but if you hear it running for a long time that is another indicator that one or more bags are leaking air and it is taking the compressor a longer amount of time to maintain the level ride.

This is why I avoid anything with air suspensions at all costs. It does absolutely nothing the factory suspension can't do ride-wise (proven by the absolutely serene ride on the NON air LS430s) and outside of leveling for rear passengers and cargo, adds more complexity than it is worth. For what its worth if you end up needing to rehab your air ride system, I would recommend going with a strut and spring replacement kit if that is available for the 430, which I think it is.

The only car I'll put up with an air suspension on is a Range Rover, because it is part of the feature set that increases the truck's capability. Even then, if the whole system went out for any reason I'd just retro in shocks and springs.
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Old 08-23-10, 08:59 PM   #4
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Ian - It is almost spooky how many things we have in common!!

Stock springs are extremely comfortable, many online reviews say that stock is just right anyways. If you can maybe you can swing a set of sport springs/shocks. I tried to find a sport edition one, but came up empty.
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Old 08-23-10, 09:08 PM   #5
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Ian - It is almost spooky how many things we have in common!!
No kidding!
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Old 08-24-10, 06:46 AM   #6
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Before I bought my '05 UL, I test drove a '06 CL and '06 ML. All three cars had similar mileage (UL had 21K, CL and ML had 26-30K) and were equipped with 18" 5-spoke wheels, although the brand/model of tires may have differed (can't verify). I drove both over the same 20 mile or so course over one stretch of poor road consisting of rough asphalt and seems from cracks about every 2 car lengths. The speed on this road is about 50mph. All three cars had about the same ride quality. The only difference I noticed w/ the air is that right when I got in the car and started driving, it felt a little more "floaty." But by the time I drove the 5 mi or so to that stretch of bumpy road, I had gotten accustomed to the ride and couldn't tell any difference. Although my UL is under warranty for 5 more years, my plan is if the air suspension goes out after the warranty expires, I'll swap in stock 430 shocks/springs. The parts are around $2K. Installation isn't any more difficult than replacing the shocks since you have to remove the shock/spring unit (shock is inside the spring) to change conventional shocks. The only thing you have to do additionally is to pull the air compressor fuse (note: the PCS still runs since all the ECU's still receive the proper signals) and the air hoses out of the air shocks. IIRC, the sway bar or bar bushings are different on the UL vs. the non-air models. Ditto with the GX470 and LX470; you can swap in stock 4runner and Landcruiser suspensions, respectively, if the air or hydraulic suspension dies.
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Old 08-24-10, 12:03 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Playdrv4me View Post
1996 Lincoln Continental was my very first car and I agree, the ride goes to hell if the air springs go out and of course, the car will begin to sag on the offending side(s). It starts out with a little sag after an overnight sit, and eventually parking for any amount of time will cause the sag until the compressor dies and the car stops leveling altogether.

Noise from the rear could be other things though, like bushings or joints of some kind. I don't know if the air suspension compressor on these cars is audible, but if you hear it running for a long time that is another indicator that one or more bags are leaking air and it is taking the compressor a longer amount of time to maintain the level ride.

This is why I avoid anything with air suspensions at all costs. It does absolutely nothing the factory suspension can't do ride-wise (proven by the absolutely serene ride on the NON air LS430s) and outside of leveling for rear passengers and cargo, adds more complexity than it is worth. For what its worth if you end up needing to rehab your air ride system, I would recommend going with a strut and spring replacement kit if that is available for the 430, which I think it is.

The only car I'll put up with an air suspension on is a Range Rover, because it is part of the feature set that increases the truck's capability. Even then, if the whole system went out for any reason I'd just retro in shocks and springs.
Don't forget that the UL drops the car by an inch at highway speeds, adding stability and decreasing drag.
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Old 08-24-10, 03:24 PM   #8
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Don't forget that the UL drops the car by an inch at highway speeds, adding stability and decreasing drag.
Yea, my Range Rover did this as well and I just turned it off. Found it was more gimmicky than anything else, and a way for all of the associated equipment to fail sooner. So I just locked it in the middle position rather than having it adjust to pick up passengers, and drop on the highway.
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Old 08-24-10, 03:54 PM   #9
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It must not be going out yet then, because i'm not sagging on that side at all. It must be a bushing or some other suspension part. I dunno tho
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Old 08-24-10, 04:27 PM   #10
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It must not be going out yet then, because i'm not sagging on that side at all. It must be a bushing or some other suspension part. I dunno tho
I recommend you have a qualified suspension person check just in case, because replacing ONE air bag/strut BEFORE it causes failure of other components is FAR less expensive than replacing compressors, dryers or valves (if debris somehow gets in to the system) later on.
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Old 08-26-10, 09:52 AM   #11
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I think my right rear air suspension is going out. Whenever I hit a bump or something unusually uneven in the pavement I hear a thud coming from the right rear. Does this mean it is starting to go out? What else can I look for?
Look for leaking oil at the strut top. You may see this before you even notice anything else.
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Old 08-26-10, 09:52 AM
 
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1996, 1997, air, car, compressor, continental, lincoln, range, rear, ride, rover, sag, struts, suspension, uneven

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