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Suspension Air Leak Troubleshooting

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Old 09-09-2011, 11:42 AM   #1
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Default Suspension Air Leak Troubleshooting

Greetings Everyone!

First post here after buying my wife a 2005 A8 about 2 months ago. The yellow and green suspension lights lit up yesterday and the front of the car lowered to the bottom stops. I ran a Vag-Com scan and pulled 3 codes on the front suspension:

Address 34: Level Control Labels: 4E0-910-553.lbl
Part No SW: 4E0 910 553 H HW: 4E0 907 553 F
Component: LUFTFDR.-CDC H06 4480
Coding: 0015510
Shop #: WSC 25166 444 84618
VCID: 28551379E263

3 Faults Found:
01400 - Suspension Level Control
002 - Lower Limit Exceeded
Freeze Frame:
Fault Status: 11100010
Fault Priority: 2
Fault Frequency: 4
Reset counter: 79
Mileage: 155988 km
Time Indication: 0
Date: 2011.09.08
Time: 17:28:51

01577 - Turn-Off due to Over-Temp
001 - Upper Limit Exceeded - Intermittent
Freeze Frame:
Fault Status: 00100001
Fault Priority: 4
Fault Frequency: 8
Reset counter: 119
Mileage: 155995 km
Time Indication: 0
Date: 2011.09.08
Time: 17:38:11

01583 - Leak in System Detected
000 - -
Freeze Frame:
Fault Status: 11100000
Fault Priority: 3
Fault Frequency: 2
Reset counter: 79
Mileage: 156017 km
Time Indication: 0
Date: 2011.09.08
Time: 20:35:33


The 10 amp and 40 amp fuses are not blown.

My question is, how do you you go about troubleshooting the air suspension? Is there a way to pressurize the system to look for leaks? Would Vag-Com have given me a different fault code if the struts were leaking? Am I safe to assume that since both struts lowered the same amount that it's not the strut but a leak elsewhere? It seems a lot of folks end up replacing the compressor but there's got to be a way to test for leaks first, right?

I've searched the archives on this board, the Vag-Com website and looked on Elsa for guidance but nothing. I do not have a copy of the Bentley manual yet but obviously see a need for one now.

Thanks in advance for any guidance!
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Old 09-09-2011, 02:25 PM   #2
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it can be very easy just with a sprayer bottle and soapy water, first see if the compressor still generates some pressure,
lift the car with a floor jack one side at a time and with the engine running spray around the air spring and look for bubbles.
much easier on the Allroad as the design is different.
you can check the pressure with the vag tool.
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Old 09-09-2011, 03:18 PM   #3
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Note that lovely WABCO logo on the bottom of the label on those scrap ECAS compressors. Even though the top of the label says Continental, it is made by WABCO (the old acronym for Westinghouse Air Brake COmpany) Rumor has it that Continental will acquire WABCO in the near future.......
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Old 09-09-2011, 04:23 PM   #4
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First check to see if Compressor is Still Alive and working. Jack up the Front End, Remove Belly Pan, Remove Lower Screws in Front of Driver's Side Wheel. Pull Wheel Well Liner back to Access and Unplug Compressor. Plug a 12V Sourse Directly to the Compressor to see if it Runs/Starts and disconnect if it does. Follow S4master1's instructions if it does Start! Also, if it Starts then your Relay is Blown and needs to be replaced to get rid of the Fault Codes and it's a $20 to $30 Part. If your Compressor doesn't Start then welcome to the Dark Side (New Compressor & Relay)! Good luck and laters,
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Old 09-09-2011, 04:39 PM   #5
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+1 to Williebone's comments.

Mine had exactly the same issues as you've mentioned, including the VAG codes

Compressor dies as a result of not being able to continually pump air through the system.

In my case, the front right strut had failed. The compressor then died, followed quickly by the relay. Took Audi three attempts to find the culprit.

You're question about the whole front dropping meaning a separate issue to struts could be true, but it's likely that the compressor can longer pump up the car and is actually the end result. (Remember that the rear has an air reserve so stays lifted.)

My 2c opinion - strut leak or leak feeding a strut, comp dead, relay fried. I HOPE I'M WRONG THOUGH! Good luck.
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Old 09-09-2011, 05:24 PM   #6
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Guys,

Thanks for the quick replies!

I'll plan on jumping the compressor tomorrow to see if it's still alive. I've already got the wheel and liner off so everything is exposed.

S4Master1,

Where should I spray the struts specifically? I'm not used to these integrated set-ups. The only other self-leveling suspensions I've worked on were the old BMW E32's that had the seperate resevoirs or bellows.

AusA8,

Your experience is my fear.....or reality. The sequence of fault codes appears to lead me down that path.

Thanks!

Ben
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Old 09-09-2011, 05:43 PM   #7
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This may help.
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Old 09-10-2011, 03:16 AM   #8
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Mishar, I found that link yesterday and it's a definite "must" read to understand how the system works as well as component location. I wish it had more diagnostic info but I'm guessing that wasn't the intent of the publication anyway.

At least I know where all the air lines run and can hopefully trace down the leak, if it's not at the compressor, once I verify the compressor works and can pressurize the system.

I pulled the relay yesterday and took it apart and it looks new. Kind of confusing markings on it though. Relay number is 100 951 0001 "Meyhle Germany" and then a paper sticker that says "Made in China".

I did a quick Google search and it resulted in no local U.S. suppliers so I'll probably just cough up the $27 to my dealer for the $5 relay just to be sure if I replace the compressor.

Thanks!
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Old 09-10-2011, 08:29 AM   #9
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This may help too.
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Old 09-10-2011, 09:14 AM   #10
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I was excited at first when I saw the relay was only $16 but at checkout they tacked on a $10 UPS shipping charge......for one relay?

I'll keep them in mind for comparison shopping though.

Thanks!
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Old 09-10-2011, 11:51 AM   #11
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Benpitt, since the Front is Dropped Down to the Bump Stops you more than likely will not get a Floor Jack to Clear. You may need to get a Few 2x4s for each side and Double Stack in a Staggered 6" Step Up and forget about Ramps (Nose too Low). You should be able to get a Floor Jack under the car at that point. My Tech couldn't even clear their Lift when this happened to me and luckily we had access to a few 2x4s. Keep us posted and good luck. Laters,

P.S. I was fortunate enough to have access to a Lift when we made the Repair. It is much easier to Raise and Lower the Car at will during removal and installation. So if you are doing the Wrenching then it's going to one hell of a job to do on your back.
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Old 09-11-2011, 08:28 AM   #12
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Here's where I am. I jumped the compressor yesterday and it ran smooth. Sprayed soapy water around the air resevoir, air lines and control valve with the compressor running and didn't see any leaks/bubbles. Replaced the relay with one from the dealer (correct part 4H0-951-253-A). Plugged new relay in and everything worked as it should. I was able to activate lift and all 4 wheels pumped up. I put everything back together and lowered the car off of the jacks and now it's back to the fully lowered front position and compressor is shut down? The rear of the car appears to be at a normal ride height.

At this point I'm ready to take it to the dealer, pay for an hour of labor for the diagnosis and then replace the parts myself. I'm guessing one of two things are in play here: (1)the compressor is pulling too much juice and burning out the relay and/or (2) there's a leak somewhere in front air lines/struts.

I'd rather pay the dealer $120 for the hour to rule out a component at this point than pay $650 for a compressor and it not turn out to be the problem. Any last ditch ideas before I head to the dealer this week?

Williebone is right on the clearsance issue with the front fully slammed down you can't use the jack. I had to drive the car onto a couple of bricks, before I could use the factory jack. I put a floor jack under the control mount to subframe mount for security since I couldn't get the car high enough witht the factory jack to use my jack stands.

Thanks again for the replies!
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Old 09-11-2011, 08:56 AM   #13
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If the compressor is defective (normal failure mode per WABCO is that one of the magnets detaches from the motor housing and drags against the armature. Detached magnet reduces motor output by 30-50%. When this happens the orange fuse should open. If there is an air system malfunction causing the motor to run for long periods of time, an internal sensor detects the overheat condition and shuts down the compressor circuit. I cannot speculate how or why the relay fails unless someone overfuses the compressor which is unlikely.
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Old 09-11-2011, 09:40 AM   #14
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My leak was a Faulty Control Valve Unit which is Located behind the Driver's Side Wheel in Wheel Well Liner. To get to that you'll have to remove the Wheel, and the Wheel Well Liner to access it, but it is an easy Repair. However, the lowest price would be at audiusaparts.com and is still an expensive part. I'll say that at this point going to Dealership for an Hour Diag is not a bad idea. I knew going into the Repair that my Techs said to Replace Compressor, Relay and Control Valve Unit from the Start. We completed the Repairs (Compressor & Control Valve) under 2 hours and did the Relay prior to the work. You are on the right track so keep us posted and good luck. Laters,
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Old 09-14-2011, 07:05 AM   #15
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Just an update to everyone following the thread. My wife took the car to the dealer for diagnostic work and came back with an estimate for $6500. $5670.91 to replace the two air bag struts in front and control valve body. The other $800 was for upper control arm bushings (4), stabilizer link ends (2) and a new battery.

I spoke with the gentleman in Florida who rebuilds these air bag struts and he recommended replacing the control valve first and then work my way up to pulling the struts if that doesn't solve the problem. I'm suspicious to say the least that both front struts failed simultaneously with the control valve and will keep everyone updated.

I ordered the control valve and bushings from a site sponsor "www.AudiUSAParts.com" and should have them here by Friday. Just an FYI, $405 for the Control Valve from these guys versus $599 from my local dealer which was retail + 10%. The parts guy at AudiUSAParts was very helpful and I will be using them again!

Once I get the Control Valve replaced I can proceed with checking the struts and see where I go from there. I'm obviously hoping the struts are good but I've got nothing to lose at this point working in stages since I have other vehicles I can use while I wait on parts.

To be continued...
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Old 09-14-2011, 07:20 AM   #16
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I wouldn't expect anything less from a dealer.
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Old 09-14-2011, 09:58 AM   #17
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Out of all of the Posters on this Site, I've rarely seen anyone lose a Strut other than MB. What's most common is the 40amp Fuse, Relay, Control Valve & Compressor. When someone developes a leak in the system and a Fault Code they tend to think it's an Allroad Platfrom Issue and it is not. We don't have Bags so sliming a Strut doesn't work here and is not the culprit. The leaks develope at the Control Valve so when the Dealership quoted the cost, it was to cover themselves since they didn't know what to Replace. I haven't had any issues since I replaced the Control Valve which triggers Over Heating, then kills the Compressor and/or burns out the Relay. Net and +1 for this Board and our experiences which helps others make the correct move. Congrats and keep us posted! Laters,
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Old 09-15-2011, 02:41 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by williebone View Post
Out of all of the Posters on this Site, I've rarely seen anyone lose a Strut other than MB. What's most common is the 40amp Fuse, Relay, Control Valve & Compressor. When someone developes a leak in the system and a Fault Code they tend to think it's an Allroad Platfrom Issue and it is not. We don't have Bags so sliming a Strut doesn't work here and is not the culprit. The leaks develope at the Control Valve so when the Dealership quoted the cost, it was to cover themselves since they didn't know what to Replace. I haven't had any issues since I replaced the Control Valve which triggers Over Heating, then kills the Compressor and/or burns out the Relay. Net and +1 for this Board and our experiences which helps others make the correct move. Congrats and keep us posted! Laters,
You can add me as another strut failure mode. We replaced all of the items you've mentioned and it did not fix the issue. The last item was the strut. Replaced that and problem fixed...

Def. agree that this Board helps tremendously. I only wish that the Aus spec cars could use the US parts. They are sooooo cheap compared to Aust.! I think that this an area that I need to look into more. It just cost me $900 to replace a rear window regulator!!!

To the OP, I hope it turns out to be the control valve.
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Old 11-06-2011, 07:56 AM   #19
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Everyone,

I just wanted to give you all an update on this repair for future reference when someone needs to go down this path. In the end it was the drivers side air strut.

It was a long process but I learned a lot about my car and found a good honest Audi mechanic in the Atlanta Georgia area (Ringtec) and another honest strut rebuilder in Pampano Beach Florida (Mercedes Master Tech).

Nalley Audi in Roswell Georgia initially diagnosed the car as needing 2 front struts, upper control arm bushings, battery, air ride valve body and sway bar end links for $6596.20. When I questioned their diagnosis I was told that the fault codes indicated the need for these repairs. I was assuming the sway bar end links and control arm bushings were visibly inspected. They did not indicate the need for the compressor.

After replacing the air ride control valve and bushings I sent my struts down to Mercedes Master Tech (ebay seller) to test my struts and rebuild as necessary. The passenger strut looked much newer than the driver side and I suspect it had already been replaced at some point. Jeffrey Limpert is the owner and advised me the drivers side needed rebuilding but the passenger side was good. Jeffrey sent the struts back to me and I installed them without success. The rebuilt one had a leak and needed to be sent back. Jeffrey was very open with me about being new to the Audi struts but assured me he could rebuild it properly. I was under some time constraints so I ended up getting a refund and buying OEM. Jeffrey was very honest during the entire process and refunded my money once I sent the strut back. He later followed up with me once he had identified the problem with the rebuild. I would not hesitate to use him in the future if/when the rear struts need rebuilding. The difference is $800 for rebuilt compared to approximately $1600 for OEM.

Paul at Ringtec in Roswell Georgia is another product of my journey. When I couldn't figure out where the problem was after my initial reinstall of the struts he found the leak and replaced the strut without trying to sell me additional services. The reviews speak for themselves on his expertise, honesty and integrity so I will definitely be going back to him for service in the future.

My total cost including the new compressor (ebay $607), one new strut, air ride valve body, new battery, 4 upper control arm bushings and sway bar end links was $3050.

I don't know if the valve body or compressor needed replacing in the end but based on my research on this board, as well as others, I felt their replacement was money well spent.

I hope this helps someone in the future but the bottom line here would be to find an honest Audi technician and don't settle for the shotgun replacement of parts as the answer.
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Old 11-07-2011, 01:27 AM   #20
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Glad to hear mate. The relief when you've sorted the problem is just great isn't it!!

Now you can get back to driving and enjoying her.

Cheers
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Old 11-07-2011, 01:27 AM
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