Air bag suspensions systems are a feature found on many luxury vehicles and SUVs. An air bag suspension system serves the same purpose as a standard suspension system, however, instead of using metal springs and liquid filled shocks, it uses a system of inflatable air bags filled with compressed air to suspend the vehicle off the ground.
One of the most important components of an air bag system is the compressor. The compressor is what supplies the entire system with the compressed air required to inflate the airbags and support the weight of the vehicle. Without the compressor, the entire air bag system would be left without air, and the vehicle would be left with an inoperable suspension. Usually, when the compressor is having a problem, a few symptoms will be produced that can alert the driver of a potential issue that should be serviced.
1. Vehicle riding lower than normal
One of the first and most common symptoms of a problem with the air suspension compressor is a noticeably lower vehicle ride height. Air suspension systems work by using pressurized air from the compressor. If the compressor is worn or is having a problem, it may not be able to adequately inflate the air bags and the vehicle may sit and ride noticeably lower as a result.
2. Abnormal noises during operation
One of the most noticeable symptoms of a potential problem with the compressor is abnormal noises during operation. If you hear any sort of abnormal sounds, such as excessively loud clicking, whining, or grinding, then that may be a sign of a problem with the compressor’s motor or fan. If the compressor is allowed to continuously operate with abnormal sounds, it may eventually result in damage to the compressor that will cause it to fail. When the compressor fails, the system will have no means of inflating the air bags and the vehicle will have a disabled suspension.
3. The compressor won’t come on
Another symptom and a more serious issue is a compressor that does not come on. Most suspension systems are self-regulated and will automatically turn the compressor on and off according to the system’s requirements. The suspension system cannot function without it. If the compressor is failing to come on at all, then that is a sign that it has either failed or it is having an issue.
The air compressor is what provides the air suspension system with compressed air required for it to function. If you suspect that it may be having a problem, have the vehicle’s suspension inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic. They can determine if the vehicle needs an air suspension compressor replacement, or if any other repairs are needed.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Air Suspension Air Compressor and was authored by Ed Ruelas.