How to Fix Cadillac XTS Air Suspension Problems

How to Fix Cadillac XTS Air Suspension Problems

Troy Hammond
8 minute read



You may have noticeable problems with the air suspension in your Cadillac XTS even before the warning light comes on. If your XTS is leaning to one side or sagging in the rear, you're probably experiencing air suspension issues. That may also be the case if you have noticed a noisy compressor under the hood or a small "nose dive" when coming to a stop. Whatever the issue, air suspension problems are worrisome. They are expensive to fix, and the repairs are endless once they begin.

Why Does Your Cadillac XTS Have Suspension Problems?

Air suspensions are a marvel of modern automotive technology in some ways. They are complex systems of mechanical and electronic components that cooperate to create a smooth, balanced ride. When working well, they offer great comfort and handling for the driver. In general, active suspensions have many advantages. However, they also have an expiration date.

To function correctly, your air suspension relies on a mechanical compressor, electronic and mechanical ride-height sensors, airbags, pneumatic air tubes and several small computers. If that sounds like a lot, it's because it is.

As with any system, any increase in complexity means a higher probability of failure at one point or another. When everything is interdependent, one faulty part throws the entire system out of whack. Other parts will overcompensate to try correcting the situation, which will cause early failure of different components. So air suspension problems in your Cadillac XTS aren't a matter of "if" but "when."

What Are the Common Cadillac XTS Air Suspension Problems?

What Are the Common Cadillac XTS Air Suspension Problems?

Here are six typical Cadillac XTS front and rear air suspension problems.

1. Air compressor failure: The Cadillac XTS has a minimum lowering height and a sitting height, regulated when the air compressor pumps pressurized air through the springs. A damaged air compressor reduces the pressure, causing the vehicle to sit below the standard height. 
2. Damaged air springs: Air springs connect the car's body to the wheels and absorb the roughness on the road. As they continuously move up and down, friction causes them to deteriorate. When air springs wear out, your vehicle cannot run as smoothly as intended. Damaged air springs may also cause the air compressor to overwork.
3. Air dryer failure: The air suspension system has a dryer that prevents air accumulation. When it becomes faulty, air buildup causes the vehicle to sag.
4. Control panel failure: The control panel monitors and regulates the entire air suspension system. It receives signals from the sensors and sends instructions to other system parts. When they become faulty, the leveling performance dips.
5. Valve block failure: The valve block distributes and directs the pressurized air from the air compressor to the springs. When they fail, the system cannot inflate properly to lift the vehicle. 
6. Sensor faults: Each wheel of your Cadillac XTS has a sensor that collects data and sends it to the control panel. Unfortunately, these sensors are susceptible to damage. When the sensors malfunction, it affects the control panel's operations.


How Do You Troubleshoot Cadillac XTS Problems in the Air Suspension?

How Do You Troubleshoot Cadillac XTS Problems in the Air Suspension?

Here are eight ways to diagnose your air suspension system for problems.

1. Warning light: The Cadillac XTS has a warning system that notifies you when part of the vehicle develops a fault. However, the signal may delay until the defect worsens. Therefore, it's vital to look for other signs.
2. Nose dive: You may have noticed that the vehicle dips in front when you step on the brakes to bring the car to a complete stop. That is a common symptom of a failing air suspension system. Nose dives usually indicate that the front struts or shocks have malfunctioned, but you should also inspect the rear ones.
3. Squatting: A faulty air suspension system can also cause the vehicle to sag at the front or rear. Other times, they lean toward the weak side. You may observe the sag even when you aren't driving the car.
4. Unusual sounds: It's typical for the vehicle to generate some noise. However, when you hear abnormal sounds like knocks and clunks, there is a chance the air suspension is weak. The air compressor may also produce unusual sounds when it becomes faulty.
5. Overrunning compressor: The air compressor should stop when it pumps enough air into the suspension system. When it continues to run for an unreasonably long time, the best thing to do is check the suspension system immediately. Otherwise, it'll affect other vehicle parts, including the airbags and air dryer.
6. Rough rides: Your air suspension system's primary purpose is to provide a smooth driving experience for your luxury vehicle. One of the best ways to test it is by driving the car on rough roads and assessing the change in bounce. A strong strut will provide a sturdy feel, while a weak one will toss you around.
7. Increased braking distance: The air suspension absorbs some force when you step on the brakes. An efficient suspension will generally support the brake calipers, making driving safer by allowing you to stop at a shorter distance.
8. Bounce test: Performing the bounce test is another simple way to know your air suspension is in good condition. Push down the bumper at each corner of the vehicle. If it bounces back quickly, or if you find it difficult to push it down, your struts are likely in good shape.


How to Do a Cadillac XTS Air Suspension Reset

How to Do a Cadillac XTS Air Suspension Reset

There are two ways to reset your Cadillac XTS air suspension system.

1. Method One — Disconnect the Battery

Here is the first method for resetting the air suspension.

  • Turn off the engine.
  • Locate the battery and remove the negative terminal.
  • Wait for about five minutes and reconnect the terminal to the battery.
  • Drive the car around and see if the suspension works properly.

2. Method Two — Switch off the Air Suspension

Here is the second method for resetting the air suspension:

  • Turn off the engine.
  • Locate the air suspension switch in the trunk or the passenger side footwell.
  • Switch off the air suspension.
  • Allow the air suspension to release all the air from the shocks.
  • Turn the air suspension back on. 
  • Drive the vehicle and monitor the air suspension to see if it's working correctly.

Why Are Cadillac XTS Air Suspensions So Expensive to Fix?

Overall, there are several reasons the complex Cadillac XTS air suspension can cost a pretty penny to fix. For starters, the components are expensive. Each air spring will run you just shy of $200, which initially might not sound like much. But soon after replacing the first air spring, you will likely need to replace the other three. You're already signing up for $800 worth of parts. Then you've got to pay someone to install them.

Assuming you decide it's worth replacing all your air springs, your ride height sensors and compressors will also wear out eventually. You're looking at several hundred to a thousand dollars worth of parts there. You've also got a suspension control module and all the tubes and wires that connect everything. Finally, you are dealing with a complex system with many tiny nuances. That means increased labor time.

What Is the Best Way to Fix Your Cadillac XTS Suspension Problems?

Use Strutmasters' Cadillac XTS conversion kit. These conversion kits eliminate the complex and troublesome air suspension components and replace them with sturdy, reliable old-fashioned coilover struts with mechanical resistance. For just under $600, you can replace all four of your Cadillac's air springs. 

The engineers at Strutmasters tune and rate these kits correctly for your XTS. The result is the patented Glide-Ride Technology, which provides a smooth ride comparable to the original. Best of all, we design them with DIYers in mind. All you need is a few simple tools you probably already have, a sturdy jack and the better part of an afternoon. We've packaged detailed instructions with the kit and a helpful video to guide you.

Shop Strutmasters' Cadillac XTS Suspension Conversion Kit

Shop Strutmasters' Cadillac XTS Suspension Conversion Kit

Strutmasters is an industry leader with over two decades of experience delivering the best strut solutions in the United States. Contact us now!

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