Town Car air suspension problems? Read this thread!

PalaniRides

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There's something missing from the equation.
The only variable time leak mode I know for the bags themselves, is if the crack is covered at a certain ride height, and not at another. The way the bags kinda fold over on themselves makes this possible. Often times a bag will look fine at a quick glance, but with the suspension dropped a bit it'll expose
very poor looking sections of the bag. Large ambient temp swings can change the ride height some but that's a stretch.

Similarly the various o-rings in the system generally leak or do not. And if it's the ones on the solenoids on top of the bags, turning the system off wouldn't help that.

There is a vent valve on the pump, but for it to be able to bleed air, the individual bag solenoids would have to open to create an air path.
So if the system is off, that one shouldn't have access to the bags air.

It's not completely unheard of, though quite rare, for the control module for the system to act up and vent or raise inappropriately.
And half the time it starts to look like that it ends up being a foul signal from the ride height potentiometer instead.
But it does happen. Though again, with the system off, that should all be out of play.
Unless it's malfunctioning in a bizarre way.

It's a simple system, but it manages to find creative ways to act up.
On the later ones at least, there is OBD access and a brief self-test, at least with Forscan.
The factory scan tools can do more with it, manually raise/lower and such.

When I got mine it had super cheap-o bags on it, and instead of monkeying around I put a new pump, bags and
solenoid valves on it. Haven't had a bit of trouble with it sense. $300 maybe all total, installed myself.
You could also convert to standard coil springs, but I'm kinda partial to the bags just on principle if nothing
else myself. If I was looking at a thousand dollar bill to fix one like some people are I might think otherwise.
Wolf, or anyone, according to a shop who I had do a diagnosis, it is the bags that are leaking. Don't ask me how I did it, but I have one new bag (left rear) inflated and now I have the right rear just installed but not inflated. Once I turn the system back on will it know not to fill the aired one and focus entirely on the deflated one? Is it the solenoids that limit how much air each bag has and thereby shuts it off when it is full and moves to the next one?
My fear is that I did something wrong installing them and it will add air to the filled one. Thanks
 

wolf_walker

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The bags, when the computer tells them to empty or fill it opens both solenoids and they are effectively connected together at that point, to be filled or vented out per the compressor. In theory, if one is filled and one is flat, when they open, the pressure will equalize. In theory. :)

If it was me, and this is somewhere between overkill and OCD-ness, I would vent the filled bag (by twisting the solenoid part way so it vents but does not come out, the tabs are stepped) and then jack the car up to just under ride height, and turn key on and let the compressor fill em up.
 

PalaniRides

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The bags, when the computer tells them to empty or fill it opens both solenoids and they are effectively connected together at that point, to be filled or vented out per the compressor. In theory, if one is filled and one is flat, when they open, the pressure will equalize. In theory. :)

If it was me, and this is somewhere between overkill and OCD-ness, I would vent the filled bag (by twisting the solenoid part way so it vents but does not come out, the tabs are stepped) and then jack the car up to just under ride height, and turn key on and let the compressor fill em up.
What put me in this spot was that I bought two new replacements, but the right rear missed the cup on the axle upon inflating, veered off, and then exploded. That left the left side pressurized and in the spot I'm in today. I heard the system equalizes it, but I just want to be sure. I don't want to tackle those solenoids if I can help it. I literally had to use a small vise to get the O rings to slide in there with Vaseline. They are not as accessible to twist off as I thought they'd be.
 

GBM

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On my 95 Continental... had the same kinds of mistakes by everyone including the regional Lincoln REP... no fix... for months...... finally gave up and did a shock and coil conversion.
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dave42

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PalaniRides, if you jack up the rear a bit with the system on, it will think it is too high and will start deflating that left air spring, then lower the car back down to just below ride height like Wolf mentioned and it will air them both back up.
 

PalaniRides

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The bags, when the computer tells them to empty or fill it opens both solenoids and they are effectively connected together at that point, to be filled or vented out per the compressor. In theory, if one is filled and one is flat, when they open, the pressure will equalize. In theory. :)

If it was me, and this is somewhere between overkill and OCD-ness, I would vent the filled bag (by twisting the solenoid part way so it vents but does not come out, the tabs are stepped) and then jack the car up to just under ride height, and turn key on and let the compressor fill em up.
Thank you, Wolf. Without your knowledge, experience, and encouragement, I might have given up. It had been a few weeks since I last contacted you here, but it got to the point where it would lose air after any stop and I was worried about the pump. The air suspension light also came on, so thus my return. I drove it to the car wash and football game last night and I awoke to find it at the height I left it in, so so far so good. Thanks again for all the help. You helped save me over $400.
 

PalaniRides

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PalaniRides, if you jack up the rear a bit with the system on, it will think it is too high and will start deflating that left air spring, then lower the car back down to just below ride height like Wolf mentioned and it will air them both back up.
Thank you, Dave. You piped yesterday just as I was trying to figure out how to get the system to kick in. Some 4x4s helped me with maneuvering the jack underneath. I'm still not clear what I did to get the pressurized bag to release air, but it did and now I could start fresh. That's a knot in my head I'm going to continue to play with. Ha-ha. Thanks again.
 

PalaniRides

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Lessons learned after my first attempt changing air spring bags:

* Don't turn the key on with the air system "On" as the pump starts to pressurize the bags right away - before one can get to seat them.

* Make sure the the metal piece/clip of the air spring bag is firmly pulled into its seat before turning aforementioned system on (See HF zip ties).

* Use the solenoid O rings furnished with bags; missed seeing the originals and used new O'Reilly ones. O'Reilly's required the removal of the solenoid, and a vise and Vaseline to force in despite their apparent similar size; the originals helped the solenoids slip right in.

* Place the car's wheels on 4 x 4's to simulate the surface height - makes getting a jack in and out a lot easier.

* Despite having to pay $150 for a new bag ($83 each on PartsGeek) to replace the one that exploded, I still ended up paying less than half of what a shop wanted for parts and labor. Score! :)
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PalaniRides

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On my 95 Continental... had the same kinds of mistakes by everyone including the regional Lincoln REP... no fix... for months...... finally gave up and did a shock and coil conversion.
I can't do that. It was a 55 thousand dollar car brand new and engineered for an air ride. There is a difference in my opinion, and not just that, but knowing that it will stay at trim level with luggage and passengers is also a plus. A Town Car sagging because of added weight? Nonsense. :)
 

PalaniRides

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One more addition to what I learned - Use eye safety wear. I looked under that car twice before it exploded sending pieces of that hard plastic material flying everywhere. I was just very fortunate to be up and walking around the car when the bag went off. It blew out through the top NOT fully pressurized mind you, and not the rubber part, which one would assume it would. It actually blew with such force that it bent the metal clip which holds it on top. The top plastic piece in somewhere in my car's chasis. WEAR those safety glasses, folks, even when you think they aren't necessary. I was very lucky not to have it explode when I was checking it out.
 
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Brian J. Patterson

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The bags, when the computer tells them to empty or fill it opens both solenoids and they are effectively connected together at that point, to be filled or vented out per the compressor. In theory, if one is filled and one is flat, when they open, the pressure will equalize. In theory. :)
Help please, wolf_walker and all!

Asymmetrical ride height, 2001 Lincoln Town Car Executive Series.

Front left fender opening peak to pavement measurement is 29 1/2 inches. Front right is 28 3/4 inches. The left rear is 29 inches, and the right rear is 28 1/4 inches. Measurements were taken on a relatively level street centered over what crown is in the road after the car has run and been driven for several miles. No one was in the passenger compartment. The car has a full-size spare and factory jack kit. The trunk was otherwise empty, and there is roughly 4 gallons of fuel in the car.

The car also has a "leak-down" issue, and the shock absorbers are all due for replacement. What are the likely culprit(s) to test and examine first? I bought the car at the start of the month, and I'm still in "shake-down" mode with it. I had to have $900 in repairs done to the car by a competent mechanic (new A/C comprssor with clutch and serpentine belt tensioner,) so ordering the shop manual from Helm (which likely has the answer to my question buried within) will still need to wait a week or two.

Thanks in advance.
 

wolf_walker

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If the rear air is raising and lowering as it should(even with a slow leak), I'm gonna go out on a fairly steady limb and say your front springs, or one of them, are worn. And/or some bushings.
The front being low on one side will drag the rear down with it, and front spring wear seems to be pretty common these cars.

Also, tbh an inch isn't that much, this isn't precise stuff we're dealing with. And the body panels on the car aren't the best place to really measure
even though it's what catches our eye. The FSM has points to the frame to measure as I recall if you really want to be sure.
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Modifyit

Junior Member
What put me in this spot was that I bought two new replacements, but the right rear missed the cup on the axle upon inflating, veered off, and then exploded. That left the left side pressurized and in the spot I'm in today. I heard the system equalizes it, but I just want to be sure. I don't want to tackle those solenoids if I can help it. I literally had to use a small vise to get the O rings to slide in there with Vaseline. They are not as accessible to twist off as I thought they'd be.
This post seems to be fairly recent. Since you have installed the air springs and inflated them, is it safe to assume that inflating the air springs once installed and lined up with the "cup" on top of the axel is what it takes to seat the clips on the bottom of the air bag? I attempted numerous approaches to get those clips to catch, and so far am at a loss. So if simply airing up the springs is the correct procedure, what do you think is the reason one of the springs did not engage the clips, and resulted in the explosion you describe? Sure could use some guidance here.
 

PalaniRides

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This post seems to be fairly recent. Since you have installed the air springs and inflated them, is it safe to assume that inflating the air springs once installed and lined up with the "cup" on top of the axel is what it takes to seat the clips on the bottom of the air bag? I attempted numerous approaches to get those clips to catch, and so far am at a loss. So if simply airing up the springs is the correct procedure, what do you think is the reason one of the springs did not engage the clips, and resulted in the explosion you describe? Sure could use some guidance here.
Yes, the air pressure in the air spring once expanded is more than enough to force the circular clips to seat firmly, and STAY seated, on top of that axle. I made two errors (mistakes) in permitting that new air spring to explode: (1) As I mentioned upstream I believe, I did not anticipate that bag would initially inflate so quickly once I turned the key on. That little pump was more powerful than I thought. I turned the key on, immediately jumped out of the car to see if they seated, and to my joy and horror, saw that one seated perfectly as the air continue to enter it, whereas the other went awry and missed the cup entirely. (2) I should have done initially what I did with the last replacement - pull both ends of the deflated air springs down right over the axle cup with the zip ties I bought. That way, once air started entering the air spring, that bottom clip had no other way to go but inflate straight down into the cup. So far, so good. Precarious engineering on their air spring set up if you ask me, but it works once everything is in place and inflated.
 
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New Guy Here! I just brought home my new to me 2007 Town Car Signature. The air suspension is flat as a pancake. Of course, I knew this when I bought it. Most of the rest of the car runs nice.

I made an appointment monday morning with my favorite mechanic to look over the whole suspension issue along with brakes and anything else he sees. So, no questions yet, but I bet I will soon have questions. I am in the process of reading this long thread and trying to get up to speed on the suspension issues.
 

dave42

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DesertRatt, I take it by flat as a pancake you mean it does not air up when you start the car? If the compressor does not start up when you turn on the car, check the fuses and relays. It is likely that the compressor got overworked trying to keep leaking air springs up and blew a fuse. Whether or not the compressor is still serviceable is iffy. Fortunately, if you want to keep the air ride, aftermarket replacement parts are out there not too terribly expensive. Good luck.
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Joqular086

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the dealer said they do a $110 computer check to narrow down air suspension issue. He also said it could be an intermitent leak? Im here now and will keep you posted, I always get nervous at the dealer!
$ 110! Holy sheep dip! Mine leaked so much, that just sitting still in Park it would cycle on in less than a minute. Goodbye air bladders, hello springs and shocks on all four corners. That leveling system (which I looked up has an unbelievably large amount of parts, some no longer made) could have other components that could also go bad, so, fingers crossed.
 

Joqular086

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I wish I had invested in the Ford Module and actuator making companies. It's incredible how every module seems prone to failure on these cars. After owning a lot of other cars and hanging out on a lot of other forums for other marques, this is unique to Ford. Shame on them.
And they keep adding modules to keep updating the tech, so customers are now beta testers. Man! More than $100 just to diagnose means more $$ for the dealership (wallet flush).
 

MotoJess

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Hey all! I just purchased my first TC (2010) a few weeks ago and it does not have air ride suspension. I can’t find evidence that it ever had it in fact. It has standard components and no evidence of a compressor or lines or even the fuse socket ever being used. Was air ride NOT standard on the TC during this generation or is it likely someone changed it over?
Thanks!
 

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