Air ride ... yes or no?

ltc4me

New member
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Just wondering what the general consensus is among most owners... if given the choice, do you prefer the air suspension, or no? Just bought a 2010, and although I haven’t crawled underneath it, or looked elsewhere to see, I’m just assuming it does not have the air ride because I have never heard a compressor, etc. and where the switch would be in the trunk to turn it off, there is nothing there, just a hole like where it should go. What year was the last year of them? Thanks guys.
 
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Houston
One vote for air ride. To me it is one of the things that makes a Lincoln a Lincoln. It's not hard to replace the airbags and several companies sell them for less than $200.

I think of people who don't replace them to not understand they are a wear item similar to tires which no one expects tires to last forever. Replacing air bags with springs would be like replacing rubber tires with wooden ones. No way near the same.

In fact I like the ride leveling aspect I am working on retrofitting a complete system on my 83' el Camino.
 

All2kool

Senior Member
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Portland, OR
Just wondering what the general consensus is among most owners... if given the choice, do you prefer the air suspension, or no?
The ARS was great on my 1996 Cartier right up to the day it failed. I retrofitted Variable Rate Coil Springs the next day (had a client that evening and had no time to dick around with the ARS in the carport) and never felt a bit of difference in the ride quality - and neither did any of my regular clients.

Only an engineer can take one part - a Coil Spring - and replace it with many parts all working together to do the same thing.
 

wolf_walker

Junior Member
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I like the load leveling, honestly I've never thought they rode any better and they do not imo handle as well. Especially all these years later where you can't be sure the air spring rate (which is a thing) on replacement bags is the same as stock, nor that the shock damping is properly engineered to match. I refurbished mine on my 04 20K ago or so and it's fine, it's a simple system, but if it had cost much more I'd have just gone with springs.
 

04TC

Junior Member
147
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Tampa, FL
I think the ride quality of the air springs is slightly better than the variable rate coils I replaced them with, it probably is more noticeable if the car has 6 people in it and suitcases in the trunk. But there are many different coil sets and they are all different, some are really stiff and some are soft.

When the air suspension is working, I prefer the air suspension to normal coils. But I switched to the coils when my air suspension went out because coils were cheap and they don't have problems.
 

Brian J. Patterson

Active member
168
84
28
Northern Illinois
Just wondering what the general consensus is among most owners... if given the choice, do you prefer the air suspension, or no? Just bought a 2010, and although I haven’t crawled underneath it, or looked elsewhere to see, I’m just assuming it does not have the air ride because I have never heard a compressor, etc. and where the switch would be in the trunk to turn it off, there is nothing there, just a hole like where it should go. What year was the last year of them? Thanks guys.
Hi, ltc4me.

It reads like what you're actually asking is "is it worth the bother to put the air ride back on to my Town Car." My opinion is "maybe, but probably not with your car."

I have the air ride on my '01. It was standard, and the "coil-monkeys" hadn't gotten to my car. It had only 91,000 miles when I got it. The car has 104,000 miles now, and the suspension as a whole is starting to show "some" wear. The shocks are still good, but are clearly "on the back end." The right front coil spring is slightly sagged, and the rear air ride system has "the slow leak."

Just the same, the ride is silky-smooth, especially on rough roads. The handling is still very good and solid, keeping in mind that the Lincoln Town Car was not designed or built as a "performance handling" car.

Will I stay with the air ride? Of course. It will not be "cheap" to repair and maintain, but that is a given. The "slow leak" is still only for if the car sits overnight. It levels right up with the key on, and works as advertised. The right front spring will get replaced, and almost certainly the left front as well to keep the "matched set." Shocks are wear items on any car, and mine is nineteen years old.

It is cheaper if you are able and willing to do your own work. But a good repair shop is also worth the money, keeping in mind that you are maintaining an old car, which involves replacing worn out parts.

Back to your car. First, how long do you plan on keeping and driving the car? Doing anything other than driving it as it is right now with occasional maintenance will involve spending a lot of money that you will never get back. Doing this for a car that you drive and enjoy for ten years makes much less "non-sense" than spending the money on a car that you will get rid of in less than two years.

Second, did it actually have air ride? If the car never had air ride, you probably won't have the wiring or air lines in place at all, much less having them in usable condition.

Third, how much of the air ride system was removed? The "merry band of marauders" who put coil springs on the rear of your car ripped out over $1500.00 worth of parts you will have to replace, if all parts are replaced with new/new-old-stock Motorcraft Parts bought from a discount house like Tasca or Ford Parts Giant. "Straight-up-retail" will be over $2000.00. This does not include the "marauders" being "wire-cutting-fiends-from-hell" either, which they likely were.

Fourth, how good are you at doing your own auto repair work, and what kind of place do you have to do the work? If you're really good, you can do this work on jack stands, but you will be much happier if you have access to a lift.

Fifth, if you don't or won't do it yourself, how good is your mechanic? Paying a shop to put air ride back on your car will cost about as much for the labor as it will for the new parts installed. You will want to be sure that your mechanic is competent and charges only reasonable rates. If they charge $200 per shop hour, or are dope-smoking losers who can barely change oil, this is not the job for them.

So, what do I think you should do? Find a few "late-model" Lincoln Town Cars for sale with working air ride. Test drive them, particularly on rougher roads where the advantages of air ride over coil springs are most pronounced. Decide for yourself if the amazingly smooth ride and level ride no matter what load is in the car is worth the bother. Also, decide if the "pride of accomplishment" in doing major mechanical restoration work on the car you have now is worth the money you'll have to spend. If you like the air ride and pride of accomplishment, fix the car you have and enjoy it. You are now part of the "old car" restoration hobby. If you decide that you can't really tell the difference, maintain and enjoy your Town Car with rear coil springs.

What if you decide you love air ride, but really don't want to spend four grand or more on the car you have now? Well, you're test-driving Lincoln Town Cars that are for sale. Buy the most pleasing one of the lot, and sell your current one to someone who doesn't know or care any better. You will want to do this before you do much more than "catch up" on any deferred maintenance, since anything you "have" to change on this Town Car will likely "have" to be changed on the next one for more-or-less the same reasons.

Good luck, and please let us know what you end up doing.

Thanks.
 

ltc4me

New member
15
14
3
Hi, ltc4me.

It reads like what you're actually asking is "is it worth the bother to put the air ride back on to my Town Car." My opinion is "maybe, but probably not with your car."

I have the air ride on my '01. It was standard, and the "coil-monkeys" hadn't gotten to my car. It had only 91,000 miles when I got it. The car has 104,000 miles now, and the suspension as a whole is starting to show "some" wear. The shocks are still good, but are clearly "on the back end." The right front coil spring is slightly sagged, and the rear air ride system has "the slow leak."

Just the same, the ride is silky-smooth, especially on rough roads. The handling is still very good and solid, keeping in mind that the Lincoln Town Car was not designed or built as a "performance handling" car.

Will I stay with the air ride? Of course. It will not be "cheap" to repair and maintain, but that is a given. The "slow leak" is still only for if the car sits overnight. It levels right up with the key on, and works as advertised. The right front spring will get replaced, and almost certainly the left front as well to keep the "matched set." Shocks are wear items on any car, and mine is nineteen years old.

It is cheaper if you are able and willing to do your own work. But a good repair shop is also worth the money, keeping in mind that you are maintaining an old car, which involves replacing worn out parts.

Back to your car. First, how long do you plan on keeping and driving the car? Doing anything other than driving it as it is right now with occasional maintenance will involve spending a lot of money that you will never get back. Doing this for a car that you drive and enjoy for ten years makes much less "non-sense" than spending the money on a car that you will get rid of in less than two years.

Second, did it actually have air ride? If the car never had air ride, you probably won't have the wiring or air lines in place at all, much less having them in usable condition.

Third, how much of the air ride system was removed? The "merry band of marauders" who put coil springs on the rear of your car ripped out over $1500.00 worth of parts you will have to replace, if all parts are replaced with new/new-old-stock Motorcraft Parts bought from a discount house like Tasca or Ford Parts Giant. "Straight-up-retail" will be over $2000.00. This does not include the "marauders" being "wire-cutting-fiends-from-hell" either, which they likely were.

Fourth, how good are you at doing your own auto repair work, and what kind of place do you have to do the work? If you're really good, you can do this work on jack stands, but you will be much happier if you have access to a lift.

Fifth, if you don't or won't do it yourself, how good is your mechanic? Paying a shop to put air ride back on your car will cost about as much for the labor as it will for the new parts installed. You will want to be sure that your mechanic is competent and charges only reasonable rates. If they charge $200 per shop hour, or are dope-smoking losers who can barely change oil, this is not the job for them.

So, what do I think you should do? Find a few "late-model" Lincoln Town Cars for sale with working air ride. Test drive them, particularly on rougher roads where the advantages of air ride over coil springs are most pronounced. Decide for yourself if the amazingly smooth ride and level ride no matter what load is in the car is worth the bother. Also, decide if the "pride of accomplishment" in doing major mechanical restoration work on the car you have now is worth the money you'll have to spend. If you like the air ride and pride of accomplishment, fix the car you have and enjoy it. You are now part of the "old car" restoration hobby. If you decide that you can't really tell the difference, maintain and enjoy your Town Car with rear coil springs.

What if you decide you love air ride, but really don't want to spend four grand or more on the car you have now? Well, you're test-driving Lincoln Town Cars that are for sale. Buy the most pleasing one of the lot, and sell your current one to someone who doesn't know or care any better. You will want to do this before you do much more than "catch up" on any deferred maintenance, since anything you "have" to change on this Town Car will likely "have" to be changed on the next one for more-or-less the same reasons.

Good luck, and please let us know what you end up doing.

Thanks.
Hi Brian, thanks for the reply. I was mainly just curious about people’s views on one versus the other, and what people seemed to prefer the most. Back in the 90’s I was looking for a good used car to buy, and ended up buying a super clean one owner 87 town car from a family whose elderly father had owned the car and passed away. I loved that car, it was one of the best cars I ever owned, and can’t remember having to do any kind of repairs on anything at all, for the time that I owned it. That is one of the main reasons I wanted to find another town car when looking for a good daily driver this time around. I loved the ride of that 87, even though it didn’t have air ride. Was air ride even available back then? We did alot of road trips in that car, and I couldn’t have been happier with it, it was a really comfortable car. When I recently purchased this 2010 I wasn’t sure if it would have the air ride or not. I am pretty pleased with the quality of the ride, but then again I have never rode in or driven one with air ride to compare it to. All in all I am very satisfied with what the car is, and how comfortable it is. When I was looking in the trunk a couple of days after I bought it, I noticed a small square hole in the trunk carpet and a corresponding square cutout in the sheet metal right behind that, and I assumed that would have been the location where that switch would have been to turn off the air ride, for when the car is placed on a lift, etc. I assumed that by being a 2010 model, maybe the air ride system had been discontinued by that point, and that Lincoln had just continued to use that same carpet piece with the hole in it at that location. Does that make any sense? Especially seeing as how they were getting ready to quit making these cars altogether. Is there any other tell tale signs I could look for that would tell me if this car did indeed have air ride at one time or another? Again I’m very happy with the car just the way it is, was just curious more than anything else was all. Thanks
______________________________
 

Brian J. Patterson

Active member
168
84
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Northern Illinois
Hi Brian, thanks for the reply. I was mainly just curious about people’s views on one versus the other, and what people seemed to prefer the most. Back in the 90’s I was looking for a good used car to buy, and ended up buying a super clean one owner 87 town car from a family whose elderly father had owned the car and passed away. I loved that car, it was one of the best cars I ever owned, and can’t remember having to do any kind of repairs on anything at all, for the time that I owned it. That is one of the main reasons I wanted to find another town car when looking for a good daily driver this time around. I loved the ride of that 87, even though it didn’t have air ride. Was air ride even available back then? We did alot of road trips in that car, and I couldn’t have been happier with it, it was a really comfortable car. When I recently purchased this 2010 I wasn’t sure if it would have the air ride or not. I am pretty pleased with the quality of the ride, but then again I have never rode in or driven one with air ride to compare it to. All in all I am very satisfied with what the car is, and how comfortable it is. When I was looking in the trunk a couple of days after I bought it, I noticed a small square hole in the trunk carpet and a corresponding square cutout in the sheet metal right behind that, and I assumed that would have been the location where that switch would have been to turn off the air ride, for when the car is placed on a lift, etc. I assumed that by being a 2010 model, maybe the air ride system had been discontinued by that point, and that Lincoln had just continued to use that same carpet piece with the hole in it at that location. Does that make any sense? Especially seeing as how they were getting ready to quit making these cars altogether. Is there any other tell tale signs I could look for that would tell me if this car did indeed have air ride at one time or another? Again I’m very happy with the car just the way it is, was just curious more than anything else was all. Thanks
Hi, ltc4me.

You will need to examine the car closely to determine if there are "still" air ride parts on the car, or obvious signs that those parts were either removed or never installed. The attached youtube video shows the removal and replacement of the air compressor, located under the air filter box under the hood. If you have a compressor, or at least the air lines, your car used to have air ride. If there was "obviously" never a compressor installed, then you didn't.

Youtube video by Arnott, an "aftermarket" air ride parts maker.

Good luck.
 

ltc4me

New member
15
14
3
Hi, ltc4me.

You will need to examine the car closely to determine if there are "still" air ride parts on the car, or obvious signs that those parts were either removed or never installed. The attached youtube video shows the removal and replacement of the air compressor, located under the air filter box under the hood. If you have a compressor, or at least the air lines, your car used to have air ride. If there was "obviously" never a compressor installed, then you didn't.

Youtube video by Arnott, an "aftermarket" air ride parts maker.

Good luck.
Oh ok, thank you very much for that information. I found some receipts and such in the glove box, and one happened to have the previous owner’s phone number on it, so I just got off the phone with him while ago, and he said he had owned the car for about the last 3 years, and that it was more driven by his wife more than him, and that he didn’t know anything about the air suspension. He just said that it was a good car for him and that he had always had it maintained and fixed if it needed anything. He also said he would send me the number of the person he had purchased it from. So that would be nice to talk to him also. For one reason is, the keypad on the door isn’t working, other than pushing the last 2 buttons to lock, that part works. I found the owners manual in the glove box, and there was a business card from the dealership where it was bought new, and on the back of it someone had just written with an ink pen “door code” and a 5 digit number. But I tried it several times, and nothing. So it made me wonder if maybe that door module had been replaced.
 

ltc4me

New member
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3
Look on the hinges of the trunk lid. My car has the keypad code stamped on it.
Hi CTG, thanks for the info. That was the first place I looked, and saw nothing. I think I saw someone say in another post, that like after 03 or something that the code was no longer identified anywhere on the car anymore. I think they even said not on the door module anymore either.
______________________________
 

Brian J. Patterson

Active member
168
84
28
Northern Illinois
Oh ok, thank you very much for that information. I found some receipts and such in the glove box, and one happened to have the previous owner’s phone number on it, so I just got off the phone with him while ago, and he said he had owned the car for about the last 3 years, and that it was more driven by his wife more than him, and that he didn’t know anything about the air suspension. He just said that it was a good car for him and that he had always had it maintained and fixed if it needed anything. He also said he would send me the number of the person he had purchased it from. So that would be nice to talk to him also. For one reason is, the keypad on the door isn’t working, other than pushing the last 2 buttons to lock, that part works. I found the owners manual in the glove box, and there was a business card from the dealership where it was bought new, and on the back of it someone had just written with an ink pen “door code” and a 5 digit number. But I tried it several times, and nothing. So it made me wonder if maybe that door module had been replaced.
Hi, ltc4me.

The five number Keyless Entry factory code "lives" in the Powertrain Control Module, the "master" computer for the whole car, [and was moved to the Drivers Door Module by 2003. For the rest of this post, assume that references to the PCM also apply to the DDM on 2003 and later LTCs.] Since you are able to lock your car by pressing the last two buttons on the number pad at the same time, that strongly suggests that the system works, but that you just don't have the correct number.

The number can be read from the PCM using any of several mechanics repair software packages, including Forscan, the Ford factory software, and many others. So, any competent repair shop can read this number, as well as the service department for any Ford or Lincoln Dealership.

Unlike most other parameters in the PCM, the factory Keyless Entry code can NOT be changed without replacing the PCM. Replacing the PCM also changes the factory Keyless Entry code almost without fail, unless by pure chance the new PCM just happens to have the same five digit code as the old one.

If you have all the original "glovebox stuff" for the car, including the warranty card, the original number will be printed on that. If you meet up with the original owner, and they give you a copy of the new car sales invoice, the number will be there, too; along with the "key-cut" numbers for your full and valet keys. However, if the PCM has been replaced, that number will no longer work.

The "easiest" ways to get that number are either to load a computer with Forscan and using the correct OBDII to computer interface read it from the car yourself, or take the car in to your nearest Ford or Lincoln dealer and have them read it for you. This will probably cost about $75 or so, depending on the dealer.

If you are keeping the car, and don't have a full set of factory keys, the dealer should be able to read the Keyless Entry code from the PCM while programming any replacement factory keys you buy from them for no extra charge.

Good luck.

[bracketed material in first paragraph is corrected text thanks to member dave42.]
 
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wolf_walker

Junior Member
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Should say in the owners manual, available online from ford, how to add your own custom door code. I don't recall if you need the original code to add a now one. I just pull them from software (forscan).
 

Brian J. Patterson

Active member
168
84
28
Northern Illinois
Should say in the owners manual, available online from ford, how to add your own custom door code. I don't recall if you need the original code to add a now one. I just pull them from software (forscan).
Hi, wolf_walker.

If you know the unchangable factory Keyless Entry code burned into the PCM, you can create a personal code as documented in the owners manual.

This has the advantage of being able to share a code with someone, and then erase that code when you no longer wish to share it. If you are afraid of "shoulder-surfing," it also allows you to use a code and then change it if you think someone has stolen it, without replacing the PCM to change the burned in forever and unchangeable factory code.

Finally, if you have "memory seat settings," you can create a code that loads one of the two memory seat settings and automatically moves the seat, mirrors, and pedals to your setting. The factory Keyless Entry code can not be associated with either memory seat profile.

You can put a personal code in with Forscan as well. But "while you're in there anyway," you can also read the unchangeable factory Keyless Entry code.

Good luck.
 

ltc4me

New member
15
14
3
Hi, ltc4me.

The five number Keyless Entry factory code "lives" in the Powertrain Control Module, the "master" computer for the whole car--not the Drivers Door Module. Since you are able to lock your car by pressing the last two buttons on the number pad at the same time, that strongly suggests that the system works, but that you just don't have the correct number.

The number can be read from the PCM using any of several mechanics repair software packages, including Forscan, the Ford factory software, and many others. So, any competent repair shop can read this number, as well as the service department for any Ford or Lincoln Dealership.

Unlike most other parameters in the PCM, the factory Keyless Entry code can NOT be changed without replacing the PCM. Replacing the PCM also changes the factory Keyless Entry code almost without fail, unless by pure chance the new PCM just happens to have the same five digit code as the old one.

If you have all the original "glovebox stuff" for the car, including the warranty card, the original number will be printed on that. If you meet up with the original owner, and they give you a copy of the new car sales invoice, the number will be there, too; along with the "key-cut" numbers for your full and valet keys. However, if the PCM has been replaced, that number will no longer work.

The "easiest" ways to get that number are either to load a computer with Forscan and using the correct OBDII to computer interface read it from the car yourself, or take the car in to your nearest Ford or Lincoln dealer and have them read it for you. This will probably cost about $75 or so, depending on the dealer.

If you are keeping the car, and don't have a full set of factory keys, the dealer should be able to read the Keyless Entry code from the PCM while programming any replacement factory keys you buy from them for no extra charge.

Good luck.
Hey Brian, thank you very much. I am starting to learn so much from all you guys on the forum. Your guy’s knowledge of these cars is very impressive, and in sharing it, is so helpful and enlightening. Thanks again
 

Brian J. Patterson

Active member
168
84
28
Northern Illinois
Well now, the DDM on my '03 has problems. So I bought a replacement DDM from an '03 on ebay. I have not installed it yet. But the replacement DOES have its code printed on the label.
Hi, dave42.

In years prior to 2003, the factory Keyless Entry code used to be printed on a sticker on the PCM. If the code memory location was changed from the PCM to the DDM, then it was changed.

It is still a non-changeable code, and it is still easier to "read" by using software than by digging out a very buried computer box "somewhere in the car."

It is nice to know where this code actually lives, since if you replace "whatever" box has the code, you have also changed the code and need to make note of the new one.

Thanks.
 

Brian J. Patterson

Active member
168
84
28
Northern Illinois
Look on the hinges of the trunk lid. My car has the keypad code stamped on it.
Hi, CuttingToolGuy.

I looked at the right trunk lid hinge as you stated and pictured. There was a five digit code on a sticker on the hinge of my 2001 Lincoln Town Car Executive Series. While the number was "optically" different than what my mechanic "read" from my car, it was "functionally" the same code, and worked fine.

There are only five keys on the keypad, and each key can send only one value to the [wherever it lives.] They are labeled as follows.

1/2; 3/4; 5/6; 7/8; 9/0

I suppose that the system is set up this way to present the appearance of having far more possible combinations than the system actually has. So, just as an example, consider the following three codes.

24510, 13629, 14520

While the codes are quite different at first glance to a human, the codes send the exact same signal sequence to the [wherever it lives] when entered from the drivers door keypad.

@ltc4me, the DDM on your car may have been replaced. As others have stated in this thread, the DDM would be where the factory Keyless Entry code memory location is physically located on your 2010 Town Car.

Forscan, the Ford factory software, and so on read every computer box on the CAN bus, including the DDM. The DDM may have a sticker on it with the code printed on it. You would have to expose or remove the drivers door module to check this. If you are comfortable with doing this, it might save you the bother or expense of having the car "read."

Good luck.
 

ltc4me

New member
15
14
3
Hi, CuttingToolGuy.

I looked at the right trunk lid hinge as you stated and pictured. There was a five digit code on a sticker on the hinge of my 2001 Lincoln Town Car Executive Series. While the number was "optically" different than what my mechanic "read" from my car, it was "functionally" the same code, and worked fine.

There are only five keys on the keypad, and each key can send only one value to the [wherever it lives.] They are labeled as follows.

1/2; 3/4; 5/6; 7/8; 9/0

I suppose that the system is set up this way to present the appearance of having far more possible combinations than the system actually has. So, just as an example, consider the following three codes.

24510, 13629, 14520

While the codes are quite different at first glance to a human, the codes send the exact same signal sequence to the [wherever it lives] when entered from the drivers door keypad.

@ltc4me, the DDM on your car may have been replaced. As others have stated in this thread, the DDM would be where the factory Keyless Entry code memory location is physically located on your 2010 Town Car.

Forscan, the Ford factory software, and so on read every computer box on the CAN bus, including the DDM. The DDM may have a sticker on it with the code printed on it. You would have to expose or remove the drivers door module to check this. If you are comfortable with doing this, it might save you the bother or expense of having the car "read."

Good luck.
Thank you very much Brian. I have been debating about this. Even though I would love to know what the code is, just to have use of that keypad. Right now it is so much easier to just hit the key fob to unlock the car every time, but I think it would be a neat feature to have, in case you ever locked your keys inside of your car. But I don’t know at what cost I am willing to go for to obtain that code from the dealership, etc. But I did like hearing you talk about, if you were to go to the dealership to get some extra keys made up, that they may give you that original code at no extra charge. Now I do like the sounds of that, especially seeing as I have only one key to my name, and would definitely like to have at least one more as a spare. Now that’s something to think about. Thanks again.
 

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