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Crazy Air Suspension


deejay
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Greetings to the group. Sooooo, I had posted earlier that the air suspension seemed to be causing a rough ride in my 92 LS400. I took it to the dealer and they reset the computer and that seemed to fix it.

Not so fast. The rear air shocks have started to randomly "let down" until the rear of the car is just riding on springs. Not a pleasant ride at all. Can't be a leak, because they will be fine for days and then drop without warning. Sometimes it does it when the car is parked, sometimes when I am driving.

Have an appointment at the dealer's for monday, but thought I would post this to the group and see if anyone has any ideas as to what could be the cause --- and what it is going to cost to fix.

I have also considered having the air shocks replaced with regular shocks. Has anyone done this? If so, how did it turn out?

Thanks in advance for any help and/or advice.

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Yeah this is the beginnings of strut failure, big $$ those shocks cost between $2500-$3000 just for the rears. What happens is that the seals in the air lines get old and brittle and start to leak, its not a leak in say the bladder like in a Lincoln that would cause it to just drop and stay down.

You can retrofit the air shocks with regular shocks and its much cheaper. I've never seen much of a ride difference between the two.

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Both leak down simultaneously....

Only one fill/bleed valve at the rear.

Leak in the electrically controlled bleed valve, sticks open occassionally, or debris in it?

Yeah, this sounds like a real possibility. Where is that valve located? Is it the thing behind the first aid kit in the trunk? Or is it something I have to take the seats out to get at?

Thanks for your suggestion

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Yeah this is the beginnings of strut failure, big $$ those shocks cost between $2500-$3000 just for the rears. What happens is that the seals in the air lines get old and brittle and start to leak, its not a leak in say the bladder like in a Lincoln that would cause it to just drop and stay down.

You can retrofit the air shocks with regular shocks and its much cheaper. I've never seen much of a ride difference between the two.

Not sure if this is the case as this is no slow let down. The rear end will be fine and then it won't. The change in height takes a minute at most.

Appreciate the info on the retrofit, however. If the bleed/fill valve is the problem, I will hang on to the air suspension system a bit longer. If the struts start to go, however, I will look into the retrofit with hydraulic shocks.

Thanks for your reply.

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If you decide to keep the air ride, you can get both of the rear air shocks for about $950 at Park Place Lexus-plano; you'll probably get robbed on the installation though. The fronts, however, run about $900 a piece.

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Mine acted very simular. Turned out there was a small crack in the left rear air shock. Would work sometimes, and not others. I purchased two new rear air struts from Arnott Industries.

http://www.arnottindustries.com/products/index.asp

Toll Free 1-800-251-8993

Local 321-868-3016

(Cape Canaveral, FL)

LOTS cheaper than Lexus ($350) and they have a lifetime guarantee!

Vito

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Mine acted very simular.  Turned out there was a small crack in the left rear air shock.  Would work sometimes, and not others.  I purchased two new rear air struts from Arnott Industries. 

http://www.arnottindustries.com/products/index.asp 

Toll Free 1-800-251-8993

Local 321-868-3016

(Cape Canaveral, FL) 

LOTS cheaper than Lexus ($350) and they have a lifetime guarantee!

Vito

I was thinking about this as an option. The other would be to replace all the air struts with standard struts. If anyone has done this, I would like to know how it affected the ride? I don't want to lose the beautiful ride I get (normally) in this car. What sort of shocks are appropriate for the car?

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Mine acted very simular.  Turned out there was a small crack in the left rear air shock.  Would work sometimes, and not others.  I purchased two new rear air struts from Arnott Industries. 

http://www.arnottindustries.com/products/index.asp 

Toll Free 1-800-251-8993

Local 321-868-3016

(Cape Canaveral, FL) 

LOTS cheaper than Lexus ($350) and they have a lifetime guarantee!

Vito

I was thinking about this as an option. The other would be to replace all the air struts with standard struts. If anyone has done this, I would like to know how it affected the ride? I don't want to lose the beautiful ride I get (normally) in this car. What sort of shocks are appropriate for the car?

OEM's are alright for me.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I too am having the same problems with the rear air suspension on a 93 LS400 (135,000 miles). For quite some time I simply kept the suspension on the HIGH setting and the car would be fine, at least overnight if not for several days, but now the problem seems more severe, so ... I, too, am faced with the decision of either replacing the struts with standard struts or going with the Arnott remanufactued units.

If I go with the latter, can anyone tell me how difficult it would be to have my mechanic replace these? Is it relatively straightforward for an intelligent mechanic?

Would it simply be better to replace with typical struts?

Any advice will be appreciated.

Thanks

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  • 1 month later...
I too am having the same problems with the rear air suspension on a 93 LS400 (135,000 miles). For quite some time I simply kept the suspension on the HIGH setting and the car would be fine, at least overnight if not for several days, but now the problem seems more severe, so ... I, too, am faced with the decision of either replacing the struts with standard struts or going with the Arnott remanufactued units.

If I go with the latter, can anyone tell me how difficult it would be to have my mechanic replace these? Is it relatively straightforward for an intelligent mechanic?

Would it simply be better to replace with typical struts?

Any advice will be appreciated.

Thanks

My mechanic charged me $100 to install the rear strut I bought from Arnott.

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  • 10 months later...

You have a blown air shock which costs $1000 + each to replace. I replaced all mine with springs which is cheaper but the ride is not nearly as good and of course not adjustable anymore. I kept the 3 good shocks though so if you want to purchase them on EBay:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Lexus-LS400...039757939QQrdZ1

Mention you are a member of this club and I'll give you 10% off

Cheers,

Colin :) :)

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  • 2 months later...

You have a blown air shock which costs $1000 + each to replace. I replaced all mine with springs which is cheaper but the ride is not nearly as good and of course not adjustable anymore. I kept the 3 good shocks though so if you want to purchase them on EBay:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Lexus-LS400...039757939QQrdZ1

Mention you are a member of this club and I'll give you 10% off

Cheers,

Colin :) :)

You still have these shocks?

David

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I have the same probs with my ls400, 1992. I keep it on high and that works for a while. When it drops, i go open the trunk and unplug the rearmost plug on the air-ride computer. Plug it back in and out partially a few times, listening to the relay near the CPU cycle a few times then plug it back in all the way, listening to hear the solonoid valves on the floor of the trunk near the Right Rear Air Stut cycle and then hear air start to fill the rear struts again. Can someone explain to me why this works and only for about 15 miles or so, sometimes longer? Thanks, THE SNAKE

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  • 3 months later...

I have the same probs with my ls400, 1992. I keep it on high and that works for a while. When it drops, i go open the trunk and unplug the rearmost plug on the air-ride computer. Plug it back in and out partially a few times, listening to the relay near the CPU cycle a few times then plug it back in all the way, listening to hear the solonoid valves on the floor of the trunk near the Right Rear Air Stut cycle and then hear air start to fill the rear struts again. Can someone explain to me why this works and only for about 15 miles or so, sometimes longer? Thanks, THE SNAKE

Snake, can you tell me specifically where the air suspension computer is located in the trunk. I'm having similar issues w/ my '90 LS400. Chip L

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  • 6 months later...

About a year-and-a-half ago I was finally forced to make my own decision about the leaking rear air suspension on my '93 LS400. I just couldn'e see going the full Lexus-Dealer route, just way too much money for a car already 12 years old (at the time).

Soooo ... I went with the Strutmasters conversion kit (http://www.strutmasters.com/catalog.php?cat=14) which I believe ran me about $795 to have the struts delivered, and (damn, I don't recall exactly) perhaps about $250 to have my mechanic put them on. He said that it was all pretty straightforward, EXCEPT we was never able to make the "AIR HI" light inoperative (he said the CD-changer was in the way, and he couldn't get to it the way the instructions said). Now I have lived with this idiot light blinking on my dash, which has really been no problem for me.

THE RIDE? Not as good, that's for sure. When the air suspension was all working the car felt good, but now it feels rather, err, normal, if you will. I recall the first day taking it for a ride after the conversion and feeling really let down, especially after talking with the guys at Strutmasters for so long with concern at how the car would ride afterwards: "You'll be absolutely thrilled with how great your car will ride," they said. Well, I'm not, but ... what can I do about that now?

The other thing to note is that, of course, I couldn't keep my front, fully functioning, air shocks and just convert the rear, which was the only problem. Now I do have a working set of front air shocks that may be worth something to somebody. Y'all contact me (cliffordjames@hotmail.com) if you need 'em and make me an offer; I figure they are easily worth $400 plus shipping for the pair (as I've seen them go for twice that on eBay).

So, that's my experience.

Of course NOW my dashboard lights have trouble coming on, sometimes only coming on ten minutes later, after flashing on and off for a while. PLUS, when they do come on the odometer and speedomoter sometimes simply won't function ... still, all in all, I like this car. I like how understated it is, and other than those things mentioned (oh, and the freakin' power-steering pump), it has rarely been in the shop in five years, so ...

... there ya have it!

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For all those saying what a pain the air suspension is, etc. etc. they are somewhat correct.

The rear shocks (brand new Lexus OEM) can both be had for less than $900, and replacement of the rear *air* struts is a simple job. Unfortunately you got less than full information before your decision.

The air suspension offers the best ride. Period. Converting to standard struts will come at the expense of greater ride harshness.

Some of us think it worthwhile to keep the air suspension up to date, and add a Japanese controller--voila: multiple adjustments, lowering, slamming, super lo, super high all controllable from within the cockpit, way beyond the standard OEM height settings. It rocks!

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