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Thread: Air shock questions

  1. #1
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    Default Air shock questions

    Looking at new air shocks for my 88 LTC. Don't know a lot about the system. After sitting for a few days i hear the compressor kick on after starting, but the rear doesn't go up. Also after putting 100lbs or so in the trunk or trailer hitch.

    So the compressor works but the car doesn't go up. It has slight sag in the rear but looks the same as the original commercials when these cars were new.

    I was able to search on the springs, which mine seem ok to me, and the available replacements seem like i don't need them for what i do with the car. Moog, etc. However there is not much info on the box air shocks so i am asking here.

    I found some shocks, Rock has these Monroe airs and the adapter kit pretty cheap.

    My question with these is, how is the ride quality, and do they work right with the factory air system. These short fatties look like what is currently installed fwiw.

    Then there's the Monroe coilovers, also pretty cheap. Supposedly they pick up the ride height an inch or so, again my question is, do they compromise ride comfort?

    Then there's these alleged Motorcraft replacements on ebay. Although they claim 85-97, I thought the aeros had the "air bag" system with non-air shocks...?

    So my questions are, 1) what is the best way to keep the ride quality soft on the bumps, while 2) raising the rear end esp. with a trunk load/light towing, and 3) is trying to maintain the 30-year-old factory air system more trouble than it is worth at this point?

    I like keeping the car original but from more of a practical standpoint, these cars have a pretty smooth ride from the factory. But if the air ride parts are too much of a frig/unobtainable etc would coilovers be a decent replacement or do they ride like a tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    It's been choochin' fantastic ever since.
    cruisin my old 88

  2. #2
    Member EaOutlaw1969's Avatar
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    If it was my car I would turn the level ride off jack up the car making sure to put the jack stands in such a way that the suspension is loaded on the jack stands and making sure the car is level.

    You should be able to look up max cargo capacity, add some weight to the truck make sure to not exceed the maximum weight. turn the level ride on and start the car.

    With a spray bottle of soapy water spray down the entire system looking for leaks pay close attention to the boots on the air shocks and look for signs of dryrot.

    If you have a leak at the compressor or lines new air shocks will not help your problem.

    Your ride comfort is mostly determined by your springs, tires and shocks and amount of load you carry with you.

    I would think that if your car has orginal springs they would have settled some over the years and probably are over due to be replaced.

    If this is the case your compressor would be working over time to make up for the worn springs.

    if you at all suspect this may be the case, finding the correct ride height data will be important, with this in mind I would also want to know the specifications and measurement points for your car
    to confirm the possiblity of worn springs. ( I am sure someone here may have that information )

    I would also want to know what the specifications are for the pump, what PSI and CFM can it produce and what your cars compressor is currently capabile of producing. I am willing to bet the compressor works but is no longer putting out like it used to.

    To check the pressure you may have to disconnect a shock load the trunk down some and connect a adaptor and air pressure guage. you could splice one in with a T fitting yet that will just be another potential leak point. so if you opt to do that use quaility parts.

    I am not sure but the compressor may have a air inlet filter which you may want to look into especially if the compressor is not working as expected.

    Air bag systems had a air dryer which could become troublesome I am not sure if the air shock systems had the dryer or not.

    I am pretty sure all of this and more is covered in the troubleshooting section of a Factory service manual.

    Good luck I hope some of this helps.
    2000 MGM LS Palm Beach Edition a work in progress

  3. #3
    GMN Regular DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    Nothing kills the car for me more than one which once had air suspension or the load leveling suspension but is now defunct. The system in boxes is pretty damn simple. There's a height sensor (which is adjustable) on the rear end somewhere near the gas tank on the driver's side. You can't miss the little arm going on one of the trailing links. Then there's the module which runs it in the trunk somewhere and the compressor underhood.

    Of the stuff you listed, the motorcraft ones look right. Monroe used to sell a kit, perhaps they still do. It's what I bought for my TC and Ashley's when we wanted ours to work again. Was all I needed to replace on my car plus fine tuning of the adjustment rod. It'll never be as precise as what came on TC's 90 & up but it's good enough. I love it for heavy grocery getting and when we travel. Makes me chuckle watching the ass sag after load and then watch as the ass comes up with a flip of the key, no matter how much load is put in it. I think at a meet up we had 3 people in my trunk once

    I have not noticed any negative effects in ride quality although it has been said that since the air bladders are tiny the ride can become somewhat harsh under extreme shock compression due to those tiny bladders.

    It's been nearly four years since I've had the Monroe kit installed & it's still working great.
    1985 LTD Crown Victoria - SOLD
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  4. #4
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    Here are some pics. best i could do with the wheel still on. do these look like the stock shocks? i know the pics suck. if i am able to pull the wheel i will get some better ones. the air line is still hooked up.

    This is from in front of the back wheel.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here is one from the rear, through the coil spring, the shock has an old yellow tag on it. look like factory?
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here is a pic of the car, for reference. It's not sitting bad here, i think the compressor just cycled after moving my trailer around.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    The springs look newer than the rest of the underneath, car was owned by a few middle aged guys who sold it once they got too old to stay on top of repairs. far as i can tell i'm middle aged guy #4 in this car's life cycle.

    i never can see the car actually raising up, the system is weak somewhere. I'm not able to crawl around underneath with a spray bottle. And wouldn't know how to make the compressor kick on to spray the shocks to test for leaks??

    So, are the factory lines normally ok at this age? How about the compressor. Seems like the shocks are the usual suspects, also the quickest and cheapest to change out...

    Also has anyone tried switching to rear coilovers on these cars? thanks for the help

    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    It's been choochin' fantastic ever since.
    cruisin my old 88

  5. #5
    Member EaOutlaw1969's Avatar
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    it does look like it is sagging slightly, yet the springs are what sets the normal ride height not the shocks.

    Your shocks are only supposed to help level the car with added weight.

    Looking at the pictures the shocks appear to be stock type but if they original who knows.

    They could stand to be replaced since the lower bushing is splitting and eventually will get worse anyways.

    If it was my car I would think about new springs and shocks front and rear.

    However I am more inclined to easily spend other people’s money LOL.

    If you want to pinch pennies find out how to measure the factory ride height that should let you know if the springs must be replaced.

    The good news is springs and shocks are cheap if you do the work yourself.
    2000 MGM LS Palm Beach Edition a work in progress

  6. #6
    GMN Regular DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    Yep, those be the factory pieces or at least similar.

    My Townie still sits on the original springs, sits like yours without any air assist. Keep in mind though that the rear wheel lip is lower than the front. Just looking at the rocker, it seems as if your car is sitting level.

    Do what I did, replace the shocks with the Monroe kit and enjoy that option. I'd be hard pressed to buy a Townie without it. Until you do though, at least unplug the compressor. You don't want to burn it up. I think on boxes those will just keep running and running when the system calls for lift. It's not as sophisticated as the setup Mark VII's have.
    1985 LTD Crown Victoria - SOLD
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  7. #7
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    I just wish there were more options for air shocks. You get Monroe and Gabriel, and honestly I wasn't real impressed with either. Both wore out quickly for me. At some point I've been meaning to try load leveling air bags inside the coil springs. Currently the auto-level is unhooked.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  8. #8
    fomoco panthers !
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    I took out the original air shocks and the compressor on one of the Lincolns. Replaced the springs with police car springs. Coil over shocks. I like a stiff ride not the floating ride . The rear end raised up a bit. For me, I like it.
    Another way is have "Air Lift" air bags installed inside the existing springs. You have to add air manually and cannot overfill. Due to our bad corrosion problems, I would replace the springs as well as the air bags. You would not want a piece of rust to poke through the air bag. I have done this to the other Lincoln. It lasted for many years. That Lincoln has been upgraded to all police car components. Air bags were taken out. JC Whitney had the best deal at the time for the Air Lift bags.

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    Thanks mangs. Today looks like our last clear day before a stretch of rain. For s&g's i may pull a rear wheel for a better look at the shock.

    I noticed a schrader or tire valve on top of my compressor, is that a test port? If so how much psi can i safely shoot into it? Or is it just a bleed-off valve and not for airing up?

    If i can air up the system that way with the wheel off then maybe i can check the shock for leaks. thanks again for the help

    I guess if DTG is getting 4 years from Monroes for under a c-note I can't complain. I guess at this point we're lucky they're still making parts for these...

    I have seen those rubber bags inside the coil springs, an old race buddy had that with a 4-link, set around 4psi airc. Car hooked up hard, ran consistent 10.20s with a small block in a big old Satellite on track gas, single carb, no nitrous, no wheelie bar, just launch and go.

    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    It's been choochin' fantastic ever since.
    cruisin my old 88

  10. #10
    GMN Regular DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    Keep it stock! Or, at least until you find an alternate option get the Monroe shocks and hope for a good pair. Word on the "still making parts so can't complain" bit. Was my opinion on it. Most people don't like Monroe, I get that but so far my turd has been happy with them. However, it has been taken off daily driver duties for the past two years so that could be why they've lasted as long as they have, that and I spray the bags with Krown T40 when the car is treated every year. Says it's safe for rubber and I see no swelling or dry rot...

    Yes, the Schrader valve is there to manually bleed or add air to the system. If your bags leak, it won't do any good. However, with shop air I could see my car & Ashley's raise just a smidge while adding it. The instant I took the air hose off, droop back to normal. Shocks got replaced, retrofitted the kit and it's been good.
    1985 LTD Crown Victoria - SOLD
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  11. #11
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    The air part isn't what failed on my Monroes. The oil seal on the shock let go. The shocks were dead, the air bag was full of oil, and you can imagine what sort of bouncy POS that rode like.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

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    So to keep it stock i ordered some Motorcrafts, 73 bucks delivered, 5 bucks cheaper than the monroes. P/n on the boxes said 98/99, so maybe they'll have some life left.

    I put my air chuck on the compressor valve and could hear the air shoot right out the back shocks. I forgot to turn it down, it was around 100psi, maybe i blew out what little was left, dunno. didn't hear a pop fwiw just air out the back.

    took it for a spin and didn't notice any difference in the ride, so the old shocks were probably gone anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    It's been choochin' fantastic ever since.
    cruisin my old 88

  13. #13
    GMN Regular DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    LoL yah you won't notice a difference in ride with leaking shocks.

    I've heard nothing but bad things about Monroe, unfortunately I had to put those on the K1500 as well, So far so good there but for how long I wonder..
    1985 LTD Crown Victoria - SOLD
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    Here is a followup. I installed the oem shocks and they held air fine, added 50psi through the valve. Unfortunately my system is leaking somewhere and I couldn't get the compressor to kick on by standing on the bumper.

    That is the extent of my ability on the ground. No shops near me are able or have the time to troubleshoot the air system. So I ordered up a set of these
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Monroe coilovers. Just got them installed today, drove over the roughest road near me, seem fine.

    The also raised the back an inch or more, here is a pic for comparison to the one posted above
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I'll cut somebody a good deal on the oem Motorcraft air shocks, less than 5 miles on them.

    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    It's been choochin' fantastic ever since.
    cruisin my old 88

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