The Ford Expedition of the late 00s and early 10s were celebrated for their responsive and comfortable air suspension systems. However, the lifespan of these systems has proven to be an issue. For starters, like all air suspensions, the lifespan of the Ford Expedition is limited. It is guaranteed to fail at some point.
Signs Your Ford Expedition Air Suspension is Failing
Your Expedition is Sagging in the Rear
Does your Ford Expedition look like it’s crouching down? When a vehicle sags in the rear and maintains its ride height in the front, the problem is almost certainly the air suspension. Like most cars with an air suspension, the rear is the most common point of failure in the Expedition. This is usually caused by degraded air bags.
It Fails the “Bounce Test”
An easy way to get a general idea of your suspension health is to give it the bounce test. To do this, just walk to each corner of your car and push down hard in the bumper. If the car bounces back up and stops moving, that particular corner is fine. If it continues to bounce up and down, you have a problem.
Your Expedition is Leaning to One Side
While the rear is the most common point of failure in an air suspension, it isn’t always where it fails first. Sometimes an air bag can be ruptured or torn from road trauma, like hitting a pothole. This can also happen as a result of some particularly rough road debris. Park your Expedition on a level surface and walk around it to see if it sits evenly. You can use a piece of paper or anything with a right angle to guide you.
Your Air Compressor is Noisy
You should barely, if at all, notice your Expedition’s suspension compressor running. The compressor will run in cycles of just a few seconds. When it is functioning properly it is very quiet. If you are hearing your compressor running loudly, or notice that it’s running for longer than before, that’s a sign that it’s working harder than it should. This can happen for any number of reasons. Sometimes there is a leak in the air bag or air lines, which means the compressor needs to pump more air to inflate the air bags properly. This can also happen if there is a communication error in the computer system somewhere. If you notice your compressor running too loud or too long, it’s time to have the system looked at.
When the front suspension in your Expedition is weak or soft, the car will lurch forward as it comes to a stop. The faster the car is moving coming into that stop, the more the “nose” of the car will dive down and the rear will pop up. If you’re experiencing a nose dive in your Ford Expedition you are putting a lot of strain on what’s left of your air suspension. Avoiding the problem will only make it worse.
Good Brakes, Poor Stopping Performance
When a car is stopping poorly, the first thing we think to check is the brakes. But what if you’ve just replaced your brake pads and your Expedition is still taking longer than it should to stop? The answer could lie with your suspension. A worn out suspension can take 12% more distance to stop than one with a healthy suspension. That can literally be the difference between life and death. Once you’ve ruled out your brakes as the culprit, check on your air suspension.
What Causes Ford Expedition Suspensions to Fail?
Let’s explore some of the reasons why these Ford Expedition air suspensions fail as often as they do:
The Ford Expeditions is a Big, Heavy Vehicle
This will surprise absolutely no one. The Ford Expedition is a huge car. That’s probably part of the reason you bought it. While a car as big as the Expedition is very useful for hauling people and things, all that extra size means extra weight. The component charged with carrying all that weight is the air suspension. Weighing in at just under 6,000 pounds, just keeping the Expedition off the ground is a monumental task. Add to that a few people and cargo and you are really asking a lot of your suspension to begin with.
The OEM air suspension in your car supports all this weight by using rubber air bags attached to the struts as opposed to mechanical coils. This flexible rubber is prone to being punctured, torn or simply just rotting out over time. Expect the original suspension on your Expedition to work great until there are signs of trouble. Once those begin, there are a lot more on the way.
Parts That Don't Last
While cars are typically built to last, there are several types of components that just don’t hold up over time.
One of these types is a moving part. Parts that move will rub against other surfaces or themselves. This will eventually cause wear and tear and over time, degrade the component. This is true of almost any part that moves in your car, whether it’s a 360-degree full range of motion or simply just small vibrations over time.
Another type of component that is almost guaranteed to need service or replacement at some point is an electronic component. If you own a computer or even just a smartphone you know how quickly technology changes. The computers of today will look like relics in three years. So imagine how outdated the tiny computers in an older vehicle must be.
In addition, electronic components have lots of tiny and fine connections that can slip or weather and wear down easily. The third type of component that will wear out at some point is a component made of flexible materials. An example of this is the airbag.
The airbags in your Expedition are made of a rubber that, while durable, is prone to drying out and cracking. This is especially true if you live in an area that gets very cold or experiences drastic temperature shifts. Unfortunately, the air suspension system in your Expedition features all three of these types of components. This practically ensures eventual failure.
Air Suspensions Are Complicated and Interconnected
Can you name all the components that make up your Expedition air suspension? If not, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Air suspensions basically work like this:
A ride height sensor installed at each corner takes a reading of how high the corner is at the wheel. It then sends that information back to the control module. This module is a little computer that determines how much air needs to be pushed into the airbags.
Then, it sends a signal to a compressor to instruct it on how much air to generate and where to send it. Then the compressor switches on and pushes that compressed air through pneumatic tubes into the air bags. The air bags then inflate to suspend the car at the proper height.
It’s a long process. This cycle happens constantly while the car is in motion. All of those little components need to be working together in perfect harmony for the system to function as intended. As you can guess, the likelihood of any one of them failing at some point is very, very high. Furthermore, once one component fails, the others will work harder to pick up the slack. This will wear out the rest of the air suspension components even faster.
How to Fix Your Ford Expedition Suspension for Good
On top of all of this, perhaps the biggest issue with these air suspensions is cost.
While replacing an airbag or even something major like the compressor might only run a few hundred dollars, your first repair is likely to be followed by more. And soon.
Truthfully, once the repairs start with an air suspension, they don’t really stop. The result is a system that will eventually cost you thousands to replace. On a car that might not have all that much time left overall, that’s not something many people are willing to spend, leaving them in a serious bind.
Fortunately for Expedition owners, there is an alternative to the expensive and complicated air suspension system. You can replace the rear suspension in your Ford Expedition EL with sturdy, dependable coils for a little more than $500. These kits replace the complicated air suspension with simple, robust mechanical spring resistance. No computers, no sensors, no compressors, just simple springs.
So simple are they, in fact, that even an amateur mechanic can install them in as little as one hour per wheel. And you can do so with common tools you probably already have at home.
Order Strutmasters Suspension Kits
To learn more about repairing your Ford Expedition suspension or to place an order, call 866-684-0528 or (336) 915-2095 for Spanish. You’ll be connected with one of our Suspension Experts who will line you up with exactly what you need and answer any questions you may have.
Don’t wait any longer. Fix your Ford Expedition suspension the right way today!
Our Suspension Experts are standing by ready to take your call and help you get exactly what you need. Just call 866-830-5450 and speak with one of our professionals. They'll be happy to line you up with the right solution for your vehicle and answer any questions you may have.