MOTOR Magazine

A MOTOR Magazine Newsletter
Dec. 18, 2018

Contributed by Bob Chabot
Is Air Suspension Service in Your Future?

Keep your customers at your shop

Many luxury cars, SUVs and trucks today are equipped with air suspension components. Arnott Industries is a leading supplier of aftermarket air suspension and air ride products to repair or replace the suspensions of many luxury cars or SUVs. MOTOR recently visited with the company to explore the business case for adding air suspension service.

“Whether a general or specialty shop, you may want to consider offering an air suspension inspection as part of your routine maintenance procedures,” shared Doug Taylor, Arnott's product marketing manager. “Servicing air suspension is much easier nowadays, which many shops aren’t yet aware of. And adding air suspension service at your shop also keeps current customers with you instead of visiting a dealership.”

“Adding air suspension service at your independent shop keeps current customers with your shop instead of visiting a dealership," Taylor explained. "Shops should consider offering an air suspension inspection as part of their routine maintenance procedures for luxury vehicles” (Images — Arnott Industries)

“Like tires, hoses or belts, the rubber in air springs will eventually dry rot and wear out,” Taylor noted. “Depending on driving style, road conditions, climate and the type of vehicle, air suspension components may start to wear out at around 80,000 to 100,000 miles or sooner. Over this time, the rubber bladder dries out, and cracks appear around the bottom piston. Compressors usually wear out because of leaky air springs. However, the computer and height sensors generally last the life of the vehicle.”

“Servicing air suspensions can be easier than many shops and technicians realize, he explained. “If a technician can service brakes, he already has the skill needed to change air suspension parts. Some replacements can also be done in less repair time than a shop is normally limited to.””

"Arnott engineers test new parts and air suspension innovations on their large in-house fleet of vehicles," Taylor noted.

Adding Air Suspension Maintenance and Service Advice
To help shops and technicians make an informed decision, Taylor shared some air suspension maintenance and service advice.

  • A shop should inspect the vehicle’s air springs and air struts with every visit after about 70,000 miles. Look for excessive oil leaking from and on the shock portion of the strut, which may indicate a failing damper. Be aware that uneven tire wear may not only indicate an alignment issue but may be due to an air suspension problem.
  • Look for tiny cracks on the air spring, particularly around where the bag may fold upon itself. If these cracks are developing, use the soap and water spray test. A mixture of 1 tablespoon of dish soap to 1 quart of water, sprayed from an all-purpose spray bottle, can be used to detect a leak by looking for soap bubbles.
  • A clean rubber air spring will extend the life of the bladder. After spraying it to test the air spring, it should be cleaner since the soapy water solution may loosen and help rinse away debris, road grime and oils. Hosing off the soap will help complete this cleaning. Look for rub marks on the air spring or on any visible air lines. Rubbing may come from aggressive driving, driving over rough terrain or if parts – including air lines and air line fasteners – are loose.
  • The air suspension compressor’s dryer should be replaced each time an air spring is replaced, if possible. A leaking air spring may allow moisture to enter the system, causing damage to the system. A leaking air spring may also cause the compressor to overwork and eventually burn out. And if the vehicle comes in with a dashboard suspension warning light or the compressor is not operating, check the air suspension relay.
  • When replacing an inoperative compressor, it is vital that the installer perform the soapy water test to look for the leak that caused the original problem. Most commonly the leak is on the air spring, but it could also be due to a loose or failing air line fitting on the spring or strut, a valve block, an air tank reservoir or compressor. In addition, be sure to replace the air suspension fuses and compressor relay.

"Arnott Industries recently built an on-site training facility to provide classroom training to independent technicians and distributors," shared Taylor.

“For a shop considering adding air suspension business, helpful resources, assistance, training videos and classes are available,” Taylor noted. “For instance, we provide our shop customers with technical service bulletins, monthly newsletters, 360-degree photographs and ‘how to’ YouTube videos geared to technicians that are also easily understood by their customers.”

Taylor closed our MOTOR interview by announcing that Arnott Industries has just built an on-site training facility to provide in-person training and produce more detailed videos for independent automobile technicians and shops growing their air suspension service base.

[Editor's note: Visit for the latest diagnostic and service insights.]

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