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2001 Explorer rear air ride control question


September 2, 2010
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City, State
New Jersey
Year, Model & Trim Level
1999 Limited 5.0 AWD
Hey, folks. Been a member here a long while, lurk alot. Usually found my answers via searching.

My wife has a 2001 Explorer Limited with the 4.0. Truck has the rear load leveling system. The compressor would come on fairly frequently, and if we had any kind of load in the back (Groceries, etc) the check suspension light would eventually come on. I replaced the rusted out shocks with new OEM, checked all the air lines for leaks, all good. Today I pulled out the compressor. It runs, but the air comes out of a small fitting on the bottom of the dryer instead of where it should. Compressor is shot. Rest of the system works (Put my shop air to the line that feeds the solenoid, and moving the level sensor up and down would make the truck find it's own level.

I need a new compressor. Cannot find *any* info on part numbers, or even who still sells them. Any pointers/links/part numbers? Or should I just run air lines to new schraeder valves like they're old-school air shocks?

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Ok, so if anyone else runs into the same situation that I did (New/good rear leveling shocks, bad compressor) there's a relatively cheap fix to the low-riding rear end.

First you'll need a Monroe air shock install kit AK18.

The standard air shock line is 1/8". The stock shocks air lines are 3/16". You will need these adapters from McMaster-Carr, Part number 5779K698. These will adapt the shocks from the factory 3/16" to the standard 1/8". You will need two of them.

Install is fairly straightforward. First, remove all the factory stuff. The height sensor, compressor, air lines, all of it. Then pick a spot to mount the air shock schraeder valve. I used the plastic on the bumper that's protected by the rear hatch when it's closed, near the rubber gasket. If you look behind it you'll find a spot that is pretty accessible from the bottom. Run the 1/8" air lines up to the shocks, slip in the adapters, then slip in the new air lines. Finish mounting the 1/8" lines in the schraeder adapter. You have now converted the rear to a conventional air-shock setup. I find that about 20 psi puts the rear at a good height; the truck is about an inch higher in the rear than the front instead of sagging.

Total cost is less than $30, whereas the compressor cost over $400.

Thanks for the follow up!

I don't see why you couldn't install a 12 volt road side tire compressor in place of the stock compressor if you really had to.

The stock air compressor also has a solenoid to release air, as well. So you'd have to add one in. Also, I don't think one of those compressors would live long in the position the stock compressor is. My wife's truck is pretty clean underneath, but the compressor was a mess. Lots of corrosion. I tried to disassemble it to see if I could repair it but every screw and bolt was frozen tight despite penetrating oil, a little heat, or anything else I tried. Also didn't help that the compressor was built with plain steel screws into an aluminum housing.

A replacement compressor wouldn't have to go in the same place as the OEM one.
I'm thinking somewhere in the engine bay might be ok, if there's room.
Or under the back seat unless it's too noisy.

What about this?

true, or you could put a protective case around the new compressor. It would be very easy to add a solenoid to release the air pressure. Something like a Mac valve could do that.

Flash, that'd work out pretty well.

I was looking for three criteria:

1. Simple
2. Reliable
3. Cheap

My wife's '01 Limited is pushing 175k miles. Being as I don't know exactly how much longer it's going to last, I wanted to keep the budget down. Got it all done for under $30, it's not leaking, and took less than an hour to do, so I hit all three. :) Truck looks good again, riding like it's supposed to and not dragging ass.

Now all I have to do is get rid of the 'Check Suspension' light.

Now all I have to do is get rid of the 'Check Suspension' light.

Had the same issue when I replaced air springs w coils in my 98 Navigator. Short term fix - black electrical tape over light. Long term fix - pulled "Check Suspension" bulb when I changed out burned out illumination blubs in IP. Good luck.