Monday, July 22, 2024 Detailed Auto Topics
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The rear air suspension system on Lincoln and Ford vehicles is often maligned. Those who do not understand the system often speak of the cost of maintaining it. Others profit by selling conversion parts and creating undeserved fear. The facts do not bare out either position.

Ford air suspension facts

  • Millions of vehicles use air suspension and it is one of the most dependable systems on vehicles.
  • The air suspension gives few problems and understanding the system can prevent most of these.
  • Air suspension offers many benefits. It gives a great ride, increases handling, decreases tire wear and has the ability to adapt to changing loads.

Rubber bags fill with air to support the vehicle weight in the air suspension system. Engineers use this design, the world over in heavy duty applications, including eighteen-wheelers, heavy equipment and even emergency equipment.

A great advantage is, with a sensor we detect vehicle height and make adjustments as needed. An onboard compressor and a computer adjust suspension pressure to obtain an optimum ride and handling. When we load the vehicle, the system simply adapts.

An air suspension overview

Basic Ford air suspension diagram

When the rear sensor detects a change of height, the suspension control module receives the information. If the vehicle needs to rise, the module commands the pump to come on and the solenoids in the bags to open. Should the height need to drop, the solenoids open and air flows out of the bags through the lines and through a control valve in the pump. This is a very simplistic overview as the system also considers many other factors. For much more information on the air-suspension control system please see our Detailed Topic, Air Suspension Controls.

Eventual problems

Like any piece of rubber, the suspension bags have a life span. Most will lasts several years and more than 100,000 miles. When they do wear out, we must replace them. This is the key to preventing expensive problems. Most bags fail by developing cracks in the rubber. Air leaks through the cracks and the vehicle starts to drop after sitting.  For more details on the pneumatic side of the air suspension, see our Detailed Topic, Air Suspension Pneumatics.

Ford air spring dry rot cracks after several years.

Two air bags support the rear of the Lincoln and Ford rear-wheel drive vehicles with air suspension. We can replace both bags in under an hour and for a modest low cost. If not replaced, they leak and the pump overheats, creating a very expensive repair. To help prevent this, the driver should be aware of the symptoms.

Symptoms to watch out for

  • A vehicle that drops in height after we park, it is a problem. The rear suspension should not drop unless a leak exists.
  • A vehicle that returns to normal height after starting shows the pump is working and not that we have resolved the problem. The pump runs overtime to keep the leaking system up.
  • A pump running for more than just a few second is a problem. The system will take very little pump action to maintain height. When the compressor runs more than a few seconds, it can overheat and damage may occur.

Replacing leaking air suspension bags, before we damage the compressor and other components, can save thousands in unneeded repair.

Leaking rear air bags on Ford Expedition

If your vehicle is over five years old, let the professionals at AGCO Automotive inspect the air suspension. A simple inspection can reveal a potential problem and prevent unneeded repair. Preventing problems, that’s the AGCO way.

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