Air Suspension Maintenance
by Pat Goss
Air suspension really isn’t all that new. As a matter of fact, back in 1957, this Cadillac El Dorado had it. And it was one of the first production cars to have it. After that, it went away, came back in the 80s, was real popular for a number of years, then kind of dropped off again. Now we’re seeing a resurgence of it, such as we have here on this RAM pickup. Now air suspension is really nice…until you have a problem. And if you have a problem, you may find it difficult to locate a shop or a technician that really knows how to repair the system instead of replacing the system, which is outlandishly expensive.
Alright, here’s how this system works: this is a strut. It is an air strut…this is the air spring right here. It has a control valve that’s mounted to the side of it. This is what allows air in, to pump it up, and allows air to go out to raise or lower the car. These sometimes leak so they have to be checked. Now over here, we have a compressor for one of these systems. Now, it’s an electric motor; it has a dryer on it; and it has these ports, where plastic lines connect, and they go out to each one of the air springs on the vehicle. Now over time, where these plastic lines go into this dryer, they wear and they leak. Well that doesn’t mean that you need a whole new assembly or anything like that. If you locate it there, there are kits made to repair those leaks. Usually under $100.
Now the way you locate leaks on these systems is just like you would locate a leak on a tire, except you use a soap and water solution instead of just plain water. The soap and water solution is put on each one of the connections, and where it bubbles: that’s where your leak is. Fix the leak, and usually after that, when you get up in the morning, the car will be sitting level instead of on the ground.
Okay, but suppose you have one of these systems, and it really does have major problems. Well here’s a solution. This is a conversion kit that converts from air springs to steel springs. Comes with all of the necessary hardware, and things to covert the computer so you don’t have a check engine light and different things like that. So that is a good alternative and it can save a ton of money.
And if you have a question or comment, drop me a line, right here at MotorWeek.