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 Air Suspension - '88 Riviera

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Wolfmaster579
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PostSubject: Air Suspension - '88 Riviera   Fri Nov 20, 2009 11:08 pm

Hey everyone. My '88 Rivi comes standard with the Self Leveling Air Struts in the rear. Lately, they havent been working. The compressor still runs, cause I can hear it. But it doesn't pump up the struts anymore. Everytime I hit a small dip in the road the rear clunks down. It makes me cringe. Anyone know any diagrams I can get my hands on to start fixing it? I can't find any myself. I even have a Haynes manual and it doesnt tell me anything about it. The vehicle manual doesnt have anything about it either. Would a Chilton Manual do anything for me? Where should I start to look for fixing it? I'm really at a loss here guys.
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Eldo
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PostSubject: Re: Air Suspension - '88 Riviera   Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:22 am

Anyone on this board would urge you to get a hold of a factory service manual (FSM)... eBay has supplied many of us with books for the '95-'99s. This problem, though, shouldn't require a manual. It's simply finding whether the pump has gone bad (least likely), the shock(s) are leaking, or there is a leak somewhere in between.

IIRC (if I recall correctly - I'm trying to give you some of the acronyms that get used a lot on here) the compressor has a regular tire-valve on the side where you can pump air in a lot faster than the compressor can, if you have an external source.

Either way, you'll need to get under the car to listen for leaks, and if necessary use a brush and a jar of dishsoap solution to check connections for bubbles.
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Ship
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PostSubject: Re: Air Suspension - '88 Riviera   Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:24 pm

Ryan,
The FSM for your year riv (as Eldo states) is your best bet to have. It goes into quite alot of detail re: Electronic Level Control. I will tell you that based on a quick look at my 86-93 riviera parts manual I have, all the ELC parts are the the same for those years. I'm sure you've already turned the ignition to "on" and sat in the trunk to put weight on the struts to see if you feel the rear end going up (if not, give it a try, also there's a slight delay before anything happens). If you're getting a clunk from the rear struts when going over bumps then they are depleated of air (there needs to be at least 7-14 psi at all times). You might check the tube connections at the struts first to see if they are well seated. To get to the compressor, air drier, etc you have to go way under the rear end..they're located on the passenger side top of the rear cross member. The height sensor is located on the drivers side side of the cross member right behind the tire.
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albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Air Suspension - '88 Riviera   Sat Nov 21, 2009 4:26 pm

First question is, what do yoyur struts look like and have you ever replaced them. I helped a friend fix an '84 Chrysler on which the air ride struts were still quite good; I have replaced my air-ride struts twice (about every 100,000 miles) due to wear and tear.

If your strut casings are bulging, or if they appear to have oil seeping out, you are due for new ones, Oh yeah and if the band that holds the rubber bladder to the strut is broken it is time to replace them. If the rubber bladder is cracked up it may well be time - depends on how deep the cracks are.

By the way, if you have one strut leaking, the system won't work. And if you are replacing one it's time to replace both.

Last but not least get that FSM, should not be a problem to find one on EBay.

Albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Air Suspension - '88 Riviera   Sat Nov 21, 2009 5:32 pm

check this out wolfmaster! www.strutmasters.com
this is the way would go
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PostSubject: Re: Air Suspension - '88 Riviera   Sat Nov 21, 2009 5:57 pm

robotennis61 wrote:
check this out wolfmaster! www.strutmasters.com
this is the way would go

I don't get it, Robotennis -- ?why would you spend $300 (or recommend that someone else spend $300) to decommission the sir suspension (with the air compressor working) when a pair of replacement Sachs shocks would be $200 ? And will take same or less time to install. Call rockauto.com 1-866-ROCKAUTO (762-5288) or (608) 661-1376 to verify that the Sachs shocks they have are the ones you need for the air suspension. P/N is 030678.

For people looking at say the Lincoln or Subaru systems where the leveler is integrated with an air spring -- and the repair is hundreds of dollars per corner -- maybe. Even then the "fix" may be to get the air spring/shock from one of the companies that remanufactures them. I won't go into detail (that's a Lincoln problem and this is a Buick board). Or for the magnetorheological system on some Caddies that's over $1000/corner. Again, that's a caddy problem and this is a Buick board.

Albertj


Last edited by albertj on Sat Nov 21, 2009 8:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Air Suspension - '88 Riviera   Sat Nov 21, 2009 7:03 pm

You'll want to check the air lines and shocks for leaks. Usually an air line kit is available separately, or with the new shocks. I know Monroe offers an air line kit and lists it right next to the shocks in their application books. A pair of Monroe airs last time I got some was around $90 I think.
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Eldo
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PostSubject: Re: Air Suspension - '88 Riviera   Sat Nov 21, 2009 7:21 pm

Just to clarify, the instantly-adjustable Delco/Delphi shocks are "magnetorheological". By varying the current to an electromagnet, the fluid can be turned from 10 weight to practically a solid and back in milliseconds.

I wonder if they're available on new Buicks...
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Ship
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PostSubject: Re: Air Suspension - '88 Riviera   Sat Nov 21, 2009 7:44 pm

Ryan,
If you're going to replace your rear struts, here are the part numbers for your 88 Riviera based on my parts book:

For Soft Ride suspension (FE1) then part #22047973
(good for 86-89)
For Firm Ride suspension (F41) then part #22047967
(good for 87-89)

My quess is that your 88 might have F41 since its a T-Type. You can check your RPO code label in the trunk.

Firm Ride was discontinued after 89 and replaced with Sport Ride (FE3) for 90-93. It looks like the 90-93 struts for rivs & reattas will not properly fit your 88.
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PostSubject: Re: Air Suspension - '88 Riviera   Sat Nov 21, 2009 8:17 pm

Eldo wrote:
Just to clarify, the instantly-adjustable Delco/Delphi shocks are "magnetorheological". By varying the current to an electromagnet, the fluid can be turned from 10 weight to practically a solid and back in milliseconds.

I wonder if they're available on new Buicks...
Is this the type of suspension that was available on the early Bonneville SSEi's.?
I'm trying to find some replacement components for the SSEi and was wondering if anyone knew if the electronic struts are available or if there is a place re-working existing struts / shocks.?
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PostSubject: Re: Air Suspension - '88 Riviera   Sat Nov 21, 2009 8:47 pm

Rickw wrote:
Eldo wrote:
Just to clarify, the instantly-adjustable Delco/Delphi shocks are "magnetorheological". By varying the current to an electromagnet, the fluid can be turned from 10 weight to practically a solid and back in milliseconds.

I wonder if they're available on new Buicks...
Is this the type of suspension that was available on the early Bonneville SSEi's.?
I'm trying to find some replacement components for the SSEi and was wondering if anyone knew if the electronic struts are available or if there is a place re-working existing struts / shocks.?

One way to figure this out would be to pull up the shocks/struts for the Riv on Rockauto.com and see if they cross to any Caddies.

then figure out if those Caddies had the mag system.

Albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Air Suspension - '88 Riviera   Sat Nov 21, 2009 8:49 pm

Ship wrote:
Ryan,
If you're going to replace your rear struts, here are the part numbers for your 88 Riviera based on my parts book:

For Soft Ride suspension (FE1) then part #22047973
(good for 86-89)
For Firm Ride suspension (F41) then part #22047967
(good for 87-89)

My quess is that your 88 might have F41 since its a T-Type. You can check your RPO code label in the trunk.

Firm Ride was discontinued after 89 and replaced with Sport Ride (FE3) for 90-93. It looks like the 90-93 struts for rivs & reattas will not properly fit your 88.

have to find a 'vintage' source; 22047967 is discontinued (monsterpartsonline).

Albertj
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robotennis61
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PostSubject: Re: Air Suspension - '88 Riviera   Sat Nov 21, 2009 9:34 pm

a strutmaster system is a superior system over a air ride set up. while the stock setup is pretty good for compression and rebound the strutmaster rides better and with more control. and it does away with a complex system and weight. i would recomend it to everyone. my bilsteins ride much softer than the air ride and firm up when they are called upon to do so. and its a trick setup. what more do you want?
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albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Air Suspension - '88 Riviera   Sat Nov 21, 2009 10:04 pm

robotennis61 wrote:
a strutmaster system is a superior system over a air ride set up. while the stock setup is pretty good for compression and rebound the strutmaster rides better and with more control. and it does away with a complex system and weight. i would recomend it to everyone. my bilsteins ride much softer than the air ride and firm up when they are called upon to do so. and its a trick setup. what more do you want?


- thanks for clarifying why you like strutmaster. I was thinking that since cash was tight and the rest of the air ride system judging by the post is still working, the thing to do was to check the system and replace the parts that are probably dead. Much to my surprise I did not see Monroe shocks for the '88 - which is probably why Ryan posted in the first place. It also means that if he went to a parts store depending on what counterperson he talked to they gave him the terminal stare or mumbled 'dealer item.' I have not seen the Sachs parts anywhere but RockAuto.Com.

Riv's air shocks are neither very heavy nor that complex, and keep car level when weighed down. Thus it's not for everyone - some people (you) want the different ride and don't care about laoding the trunk and passenger compartment with luggage and passengers. So - people who do not want/need the load capacity like to switch to Ranchos (the ford bronco shocks) or other non-air setup. I want that capacity, and the firm ride works for me (most driving is on well-paved but twisty secondary roads).

By the way - when you got your strutmasters kit did you get coilovers, heavier springs to replace the stockers, or the Firestone air bag inserts?

Albertj


Last edited by albertj on Sat Nov 21, 2009 10:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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robotennis61
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PostSubject: Re: Air Suspension - '88 Riviera   Sat Nov 21, 2009 10:13 pm

good question albertj. after speaking to the strutmaster tech i decided a custom set up was what i wanted. i had CCS make a 195lb rear springs and i made my own conversion using bilsteins. i don't regret the decision. the car tracks very well over undulating switch camber roads and handles loads very well. the whole idea to convert was my goal from the beginning but learning of the rancho conversion made me think, and this is what i came up with. it works.
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Wolfmaster579
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PostSubject: Re: Air Suspension - '88 Riviera   Sat Nov 21, 2009 10:48 pm

Wow!! Thanks for all the input. I will definitely check and see if there are any leaks first. It doesn't take much to jack up the rear end and tinker around with some soapy water. God knows the underside of my car needs cleanin anyway. haha. I have always thought about changing to a non-air ride rear suspension, but I really dont have the money and, if my car is as rare as the admin has told me before, I want to keep this vehicle as original and factory as I can. Fix what I got ya know? Again thanks for the input guys. Much appreciated.
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Eldo
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PostSubject: Re: Air Suspension - '88 Riviera   Sun Nov 22, 2009 12:01 am

Rickw wrote:
Eldo wrote:
Just to clarify, the instantly-adjustable Delco/Delphi shocks are "magnetorheological". By varying the current to an electromagnet, the fluid can be turned from 10 weight to practically a solid and back in milliseconds.

I wonder if they're available on new Buicks...
Is this the type of suspension that was available on the early Bonneville SSEi's.?
I'm trying to find some replacement components for the SSEi and was wondering if anyone knew if the electronic struts are available or if there is a place re-working existing struts / shocks.?

That would be a negative. Like StabiliTrak, Magnetic Ride Control was Caddy only for a long time, and it debuted in the 2002 STS.

For those of you in the market, I just found out that they did bestow it upon the '09 Lucerne Super...
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