Rear air suspension woes

roadmaven

Original poster
Member
Jul 25, 2012
13
Here's the scoop. I'm currently 375 miles from home on a camping trip with my trailer. Just before arriving, I noticed the rearend only '04 Envoy XUV Had significantly dropped. I got off the interstate and realized the suspension had decompressed and made it look like a lowrider. I fiddled with it a few times by pulling up and down on the hitch while the compressor was on. It finally raised up to a normal level and made it to my destination. Overnight with the trailer unhitched, it went from normal height to dropped position. Again, whenthe compressor kicked on, pulling up on the hitch seemed to motivate it to raise. Right now it's holding, but I expect it to cause me problems on the way back to Indy.

With that in mind, my wife found the Strutmasters web site with conversion kits that eliminate this whole air compressor thing: Search Results - Strutmasters.com

Have any of you converted yours to a normal system? I just want to get these things off there and get conventional springs on it without having to rig it. I know there's a "$5 fix", but I'm mainly wanting to know if the link above is a good option for a permanent, solid solution. Thanks for your input!
 

The_Roadie

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
Should work. Arnott Industries also makes a spring kit. Arnott makes replacement compressors and air bags in case you want to keep the auto system, but it's not the most robust system anyhow.

If you don't mind a bit of a downwards rake, you can also for under $100 a pair, install 2007+ Tahoe/Avalanche Z71 rear springs. They are stiffer, progressive rate, and pop right in. Available on Ebay almost all the time from conversion shops that take them out of new Tahoes and Avalanches to put in lift kits.

If you value adjustability, many of us offroaders sell our OEM springs, and then you can pop in (Again, for under $100) Airlift1000 bags that you can inflate to 5-35 PSI to assist the GM coils. Check the classifieds.
 

roadmaven

Original poster
Member
Jul 25, 2012
13
I'm curious, since we'll be hauling our trailer (280lbs tongue weight) would going with the Avalanche springs be enough? I just want to make sure what I get doesn't drop it down too far to where I'd be facing the same problem I have now. Of the options Strutmasters offers, would that $447 kit be the one I should go with, or could I get just the cheaper version with just the spring or springshock combo? It wouldn't be a big deal to me if the height lowered a tad when hitching the trailer. The $447 option for the height control wouldn't be a must have if the standard spring/shock will take care of things.
 

northcreek

Member
Jan 15, 2012
3,263
WNY
My advise would be to buy a new OEM compressor from Arnott and you should be set for the remaining life of your 04.The air system is awesome when working properly and you can install the new compressor in an hour or less...just sayin',Mike.
 

floridafitz

Member
Jan 2, 2012
151
Winter Springs FL
Did the Arnott compressor swap and it lasted about 2 years before dumping on me. Decided I would NEVER again be hostage to a non-spring assisted air system so replaced with take-off oem springs. Could not be more pleased. Ride is excellent. No need for ride adjustment like you. Highly recommend you not go with bag only approach. Roadie's spring/bag suggestion is probably your best option.
 

northcreek

Member
Jan 15, 2012
3,263
WNY
floridafitz said:
Did the Arnott compressor swap and it lasted about 2 years before dumping on me. Decided I would NEVER again be hostage to a non-spring assisted air system so replaced with take-off oem springs. Could not be more pleased. Ride is excellent. No need for ride adjustment like you. Highly recommend you not go with bag only approach. Roadie's spring/bag suggestion is probably your best option.

Perhaps you had a leaky bag or lines and your new compressor was simply overworked.We're talking an 04 truck and his original compressor lasted 8 years,you can't ask for better service life than that and what ride adjustment are you referring to?the automatic level control?
I had a 4wd Astro van that liked to eat front torsion springs....springs break too....just sayin',Mike.
 

jrSS

Member
Dec 4, 2011
3,950
I think air bags were a dumb option. Not all that reliable. Shoulda stuck with a stiffer suspension and kept reg. coils.
 

floridafitz

Member
Jan 2, 2012
151
Winter Springs FL
If you can't live without auto height adjust and like the bag feel, just be prepared to spend $$$ to keep it functional. I was not. Fortunately my system failures were near home. Away from home and you're in heap do-do...$$ and down time. Stealerships do not stock these parts. Plan on being stranded a good 2 days minimum. If the TB/Voys have an Achilles heel, this is surely it!
 

roadmaven

Original poster
Member
Jul 25, 2012
13
floridafitz said:
If you can't live without auto height adjust and like the bag feel, just be prepared to spend $$$ to keep it functional. I was not. Fortunately my system failures were near home. Away from home and you're in heap do-do...$$ and down time. Stealerships do not stock these parts. Plan on being stranded a good 2 days minimum. If the TB/Voys have an Achilles heel, this is surely it!

This situation is exactly what I want to avoid. I made it home this afternoon without incident, some 400 miles. Why it's so sporadic, I'm not sure. Regardless, since the Envoy is essentially the tow vehicle for our trailer, that means it's going to be used for out-of-town driving. And we really don't want to take a chance on this thing putting us in a situation like you describe. I'd just like to ditch it and put normal springs on there. Was there much to the operation? Just so I'm clear, if you put normal springs in, the bags are removed, yes? Just trying to get my mind wrapped around the process as far as what's there now and what I need to remove.
 

roadmaven

Original poster
Member
Jul 25, 2012
13
northcreek said:
Perhaps you had a leaky bag or lines and your new compressor was simply overworked.We're talking an 04 truck and his original compressor lasted 8 years,you can't ask for better service life than that and what ride adjustment are you referring to?the automatic level control?
I had a 4wd Astro van that liked to eat front torsion springs....springs break too....just sayin',Mike.

Regarding the age, I don't know if they've been changed over the past 8 years or not. We just bought it last month.
 

northcreek

Member
Jan 15, 2012
3,263
WNY
roadmaven said:
This situation is exactly what I want to avoid. I made it home this afternoon without incident, some 400 miles. Why it's so sporadic, I'm not sure.

It's sporadic no doubt because the brains for the leveling system are within the compressor housing and that's why replacing the compressor unit usually clears up all the malfunctions.
I agree that going to springs will remove one possible failure that might get you stranded but,in a soon to be 9 year old vehicle there is a long list of things to strand you if you are inclined to think that way.I do however respect your decision to swap out the bags,especially if it gives you peace of mind....Mike.
 

floridafitz

Member
Jan 2, 2012
151
Winter Springs FL
Yes, the bags are removed and springs are inserted without modification. I did not do my own switch and the tech said it was a bit tight getting the springs in. Springs should come with a plastic-like cap for the top which sits between the spring top and the vehicle contact. Just thinking, with 280 lbs of tongue weight, you may need stiffer springs or an inflatable bag assist. Another option is to carry a replacement compressor and extra bag so if you are ever stranded at least you will have the parts. I know it seems paranoid to those who have not been through a failure, but it is a big deal when it blows....twice for me.
 

roadmaven

Original poster
Member
Jul 25, 2012
13
floridafitz said:
Yes, the bags are removed and springs are inserted without modification. I did not do my own switch and the tech said it was a bit tight getting the springs in. Springs should come with a plastic-like cap for the top which sits between the spring top and the vehicle contact. Just thinking, with 280 lbs of tongue weight, you may need stiffer springs or an inflatable bag assist. Another option is to carry a replacement compressor and extra bag so if you are ever stranded at least you will have the parts. I know it seems paranoid to those who have not been through a failure, but it is a big deal when it blows....twice for me.

I've been swapping emails with a tech guy this morning. He's trying to sell me on this, which is something like you advise:
GMC Envoy XL Air Suspension Conversion Kit (-ENB-R1HD-LLK) | Strutmasters.com

So if I understand right, the bag assist will just raise it, but should it fail, it'll simply go back down to a normal ride height because of the addition of the springs. Sound right?
 

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roadmaven

Original poster
Member
Jul 25, 2012
13
Done! Since more than one suggested I get the heavy duty springs and air assist (due to trailering), I decided to go that route. The air assist adds 1000 lbs of carrying capacity. But should they fail, it's only going to drop it to the standard height with just the springs. We'll see how it goes...I'll be using a mechanic friend on this one!

GMC Envoy XL Air Suspension Conversion Kit (-ENB-R1HD-LLK) | Strutmasters.com
 

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