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Car Talk: Suspension air bags can wear out over time

Dear Car Talk: The air suspension system on my 2003 Lincoln Navigator seems to work fine – until the cold weather sets in. The dealer replaced the compressor and the right and left front sensors, to no avail. In cold weather, the car will lift after driving a few miles, and then it seems to run fine. Are the suspension air bags just old and stiff, and hard to get started on cold mornings, like me? – Bonnie

Yeah, I’m afraid so, Bonnie.

The compressor was a good guess. But since that didn’t solve the problem, I’m guessing the bags themselves are old and porous, and are leaking down overnight.

So, when you get going in the morning, it takes some time before they inflate completely. I’d ask your dealer what he thinks. He’s probably fixed a gajillion of these things throughout the years.

Of course, he already replaced your compressor and sensors without fixing the problem.

If you’re planning to keep this car, then one way or another you need to get it fixed.

You can have the bags replaced, and hope that does the trick. There’s not much else to replace after that.

Or you can look into converting the suspension to a more conventional coil spring and strut system. There are kits for that.

Either way, you’re probably looking at a few hundred bucks in parts, plus the labor. Hopefully, like the bags, the prices won’t be too inflated. Good luck, Bonnie.

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