Question about 2003 Lincoln Navigator

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2003 Lincoln Navigator Air Ride Troubleshooting

This is my first post on Fixya and I appreciate a lot of the detailed and intelligent people on here.

My air ride started acting up just a few days ago. Last week my air ride suspension was fine. I had the car put on a lift for an issue with a loose baffle in my resonator. We switched the air ride off to perform this diagnostic before lifting it.

A few days later, I was looking at my car outside of my office window and noticed it was sitting lop-sided on an even surface. Upon closer examination, the driver's side front airbag appeared to be at a normal height, the passenger side front air bag appeared to be far too high, the passenger side rear airbag was sitting at a normal level, and the driver side rear air bag was sitting far too low. I assumed that the height of the front was putting tension on the driver's side rear. This same set of circumstances occurred for two days with the check suspension light turning off and on until today.

Today the suspension is acting entirely different. Now the rear airbags appear to be sitting at a normal height and the front air bags are sitting too low, nearly to the point of touching the wheel wells.

After reading many posts and suggestions here and elsewhere, I went out to the vehicle, started it up, and put in drive with the brake on. I used a fixed point just below the vantage of the hood to see if the front end was raising and it was. However, I could feel the car shift dramatically from the passenger side to the driver's side, so I stopped the car and the compressor stopped at that point as well. As I stepped out of the vehicle, I noticed a height difference in the front but wasn't willing to take the chance of blowing out an airbag.

The only things worth mentioning that may relate to diagnosis are the jacking up of the vehicle with the air ride switch turned off from the kick-panel and the weather here is extremely cold- in the single digits.

The compressor kicks off and on as it should. The air ride seems to hiss as I get out of the car as it should. The bags have all inflated at one point or another and held air. Instead of paying the dealer "$150.00" for diagnosis alone, does anyone have an idea? Could it be the control module needing re-calibration?

A relay issue wouldn't allow for all air bags to fill randomly. The compressor wouldn't fill all airbags if it were damaged. A leak in the airbags is doubtful if all the airbags are filling at some point or another. I would've sold myself on height sensors but what are the odds of all four height sensors being messed up at the same time? I feel like I've limited the problem to the module but I could use some second opinions before I go off wasting time and money.

Are there are any obvious checks I can have my mechanic friend run? It's my understand I cannot read fault codes with the suspension without the dealer diagnostic. What can I do to help save some money, diagnose this problem myself, and go to a dealer after that if need be with a solution in hand?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions and advice.

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  • 3 more comments 
  • lifemisled Jan 16, 2009

    Unfortunately, I don't know anyone with a heated garage. Our area has seen a lot of snow, ice, slush, etc, recently so it's entirely possible that any part of the system could be iced up or frozen. However, without a heated garage, how could I troubleshoot the cold as an option? I would see try to torch the sensors but I don't want to do any damage to them.

    I think this is a logic place to start, though...

  • lifemisled Jan 16, 2009

    I really appreciate your efforts to help me out. If there's any way you
    could get a picture of what I need to look for, I would appreciate it.
    I have a mechanic friend who helps me out on the weekends when he has
    time and I am supposed to go down to his shop tomorrow morning. He's
    familiar with car and truck repairs but air ride is not his specialty.
    I think he could certainly help if pointed in the right direction. If
    you have anything at all that may help in a picture form, please do
    link or attach. Additionally, you can find my e-mail at

    Again thank you for the assistance. Hopefully, I get this sorted out
    soon because it's frustrating wondering if it's something this simple
    of something far more complex. I have to say the only two things in
    common with the timing are the much colder temperatures and the car
    being lifted but I am inclined to say that the cold temperatures could
    be affecting the vehicle. If I can't get a picture, I will attempt to troubleshoot this with my mechanic tomorrow and if we can't figure it out, I'll ask around for a heated garage. I don't know where I am going to find a hot water tap around here. My resources are relatively limited unfortunately...

    Again, thanks so much for the quick and solid feedback, I had a feeling this forum might be helpful.

  • Anonymous Feb 08, 2009

    I have the similar problem. The passenger side will not lower to the lowest level while sitting not running. The driver side will go all the way down. When driving the driver side will not inflate. Unless put into four wheel low, then it fills up accordingly.

  • linsbraz Feb 13, 2009

    I have the same problem, the air ride suspension is not turning on. My front end is sitting on the tires. Good luck with this one. My 2003 navigator has been parked since the end of November 2008 waiting for Ford to produce an "Air Ride Control Module." It has been on back order. It is not Feb 13 2009 and I am on the "critical" list, still waiting for the module!

  • Cesar Islas Feb 26, 2014

    have exactly the same problem Try bringing it in your garage open up your hood go to yor truck dont turn on yor truck just set the key foward and tbe compressor should start up let it go untill it goes out and listen to any air leaks get some soapy water and soap there is a tee where 3 lines meet spray it down for leaks also try spraying each bag and air line connections by air valves I had that problem replaced my tee and o rings inside my shocks that did the trick



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Leveling sensors froze up ? Have you been through snow & slush?
Can the vehicle be stored in heated garage for a night?

Posted on Jan 16, 2009

  • Mike Butler
    Mike Butler Jan 16, 2009

    You know where I'm going with this right?

  • Mike Butler
    Mike Butler Jan 16, 2009

    The systems i've worked on in the past basically consisted of a small linkage type arm, that moved up & down with load applied or removed. If you follow the lines you should see what I'm talking about, going to an air valve. I'm working on getting you a picture of what to look for, hopefully I can come up with one, or perhaps another tech has one. Then with the weather the way it is, I'd be tempted to head to the carwash, or hook up my own to a hot water tap, & spray them down clean in the area & see if that doesn't take care of it. I'll try to gat back with picture a.s.a.p


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Yea, what Ralph said. These Navigators were just atrocious when it comes to the lifespan of the air suspension. They all seemed to go out within 7-8 years. I'd just go ahead and convert to coil springs and save yourself the future hassle.
2003 2006 Lincoln Navigator 4 Wheel Standard Air Suspension Conversion Kit...

Posted on Oct 05, 2017

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I found the best fix for your problem is to purchase the 2003-2006 Lincoln Navigator & Ford Expedition 4 Wheel Air Suspension Conversion Kit 2WD & 4WD from Strutmasters $629.00 and have it installed if you can't do it yourself.... It will eliminate all your now and future problems that you will keep having with your current Air Ride Suspension System!!!! Its the best money I've ever spent on my Navigator!!!!

Posted on Nov 26, 2014

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I have been having a similar problem. It would take up too much typing to give accurate details. But, again, my problem is similar to the one above with a few minor exceptions. I am in Buffalo, New York area...we have been experiencing freezing temps for almost twom weeks. yesterday I took my lincoln towncar to car wash with underspray and car lifted right up and has stayed up as it should since then. i thing maybe someything was frozen; however i would also like a pic of part. By the way my linconl is a 1997 and i bought it new. never had this problem before.

Posted on Feb 04, 2009

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Wut do the air ride look like

Posted on Nov 29, 2009

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