A Beginner's Guide to Diagnosing OE Air Suspension Problems

A Beginner's Guide to Diagnosing OE Air Suspension Problems

Posted by RMT on Nov 8th 2023

When it comes to Original Equipment (OE) air suspension issues, diagnosing the root cause can be a puzzle for many car enthusiasts and professionals alike. However, understanding a few key symptoms can guide you towards a more precise diagnosis. In this blog post, we'll explore the common signs of air suspension troubles and how they can lead you to the underlying issues.

When the Entire Car Sits Low: The Culprit Could be the Compressor

If your vehicle is squatting uniformly, it’s often a sign that the compressor, the heart of the air suspension system, might be failing. But hold on – before you rush to replace the compressor, consider this important disclaimer: a failing compressor is frequently a symptom, not the cause. Fixing the compressor can bring temporary relief, but the real issue may lurk elsewhere.

A common villain in this scenario is a leak within the system. Leaks force the compressor to work overtime – beyond the recommended 2 minutes of continuous operation – leading to overheating and failure. Alternatively, the compressor's intake line could be blocked with debris, water, or mud, hampering its functionality.

Front or Rear End Lowered: A Tale of One Bad Corner

If either the front or the rear end of your car is down, it’s likely that only one corner is actually defective. Why would the vehicle lower both sides then? It’s an intentional design – the car detects a leak on one side and lowers the opposite side to maintain balance and prevent the vehicle from being uneven. In most cases (9 out of 10), the problem is isolated to a single strut or air spring. However, it’s wise to replace both sides simultaneously. This is not just for symmetry; it's also cost-effective regarding time and labor. Moreover, if one side has failed, the other is probably not far behind. For more on this, check out our post on "The Importance of Changing Two Air Struts at a Time."

Uneven Left or Right Side: Valve Block Issues

When one side of your vehicle is lower, affecting diagonally opposite corners (for example, the rear left and front right), it’s a strong indicator of a valve block problem. The valve block manages air flow and distribution to the struts, and if it’s leaking or its valves are stuck, it can cause an uneven stance. While it’s possible for the corner air struts or air springs themselves to fail, it’s more often the valve block that’s to blame.

A Lone Corner Drooping: Check the Air Spring

A single corner dropping lower than the rest is usually a telltale sign of a failed air spring at that specific wheel. While the air strut or spring unit itself is often at fault, don't overlook the smaller components. Fittings and airlines can also deteriorate and are frequently ignored. Fortunately, repair kits are available and can address these issues without the need to replace larger, more expensive parts.

Final Thoughts

This guide aims to simplify the complex task of diagnosing air suspension issues. By correlating the symptoms to potential problems, you can often narrow down the cause to one or two components. However, remember this is not an exhaustive diagnostic tool but a starting point based on common vehicle behaviors.

If you find yourself scratching your head over your car's sagging posture, don't hesitate to reach out for professional advice. We are here to help – whether it’s a question, a part, or a repair kit you need. Contact us via phone or email, and let's get your ride back to its proper stance!

We hope this guide aids you in understanding your vehicle's air suspension woes and leads you towards a smooth and cost-effective solution.