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11 comments
Associate

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Location: Canton, Ohio
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1998 Lincoln Town Car Rear Air Ride Suspension

05/13/2011 4:47 PM

I own a 1998 Lincoln Town Car which just yesterday, appeared to lose all of the air in it's rear suspension (rear fender wells extremely low on tires). Upon investigating this morning, I discovered the 30 Amp relay fuse was blown. Replaced the relay, turned on the system switch in trunk, waited five (5) minutes, still no recovery of rear air suspension. I then checked the air pump (compressor) located in the engine compartment, mid passenger's side, by compressing the needle of the fill valve of the pump, and it seemed to have quite a bit of pressure. I have read both the Owner's and Maintenance Manuals to no avail. Also have spent a couple of hours on the Web without many positive results. What might be my next logical diagnostic steps, as it does not appear to be sending air to the rear suspension or it is dissipating somewhere (though I hear no leaking sounds). I apologize for the rambling, as I am probably in over my head, am obviously no auto mechanic, don't know the proper terminology and I haven't worked on a car since my '72 Monte Carlo. Also, since I'm sure that most sane responders will instruct me to take it to a real mechanic, how far is it safe to drive with this present suspension problem ? Thanks for any help or comments you may have to offer.

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#1

Re: 1998 Lincoln Town Car Rear Air Ride Suspension

05/13/2011 6:07 PM

There will be either a sensor, or a valve that acts in relation to ride level. I suspect that it or something related to it has failed.

Your best shot is to acquire a Factory Service Manual as this car has quite a lot of complex bits and pieces that require actual knowledge to deal with.

Don't bother with a Chiltons/Haynes or an ebay special cd manual they're not worth the paper they're printed on but get the Ford Factory manual from the dealer. Yes it will be expensive but if you're keeping the car then it's worht the investment.

Don't ask me how I know...

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#2

Re: 1998 Lincoln Town Car Rear Air Ride Suspension

05/13/2011 6:37 PM

I remember an article that appeared in a car magazine about cabbies using Lincoln Town Cars for their rides. When the rear pneumatic suspension died, they had a mechanic yank it and install a hydraulic shock based substitute. This held up better to the abuse inflicted by less than ideal road surfaces, don't remember what the ride quality was or whether it was of paramount importance. You can probably Google= Lincoln town car rear suspension conversion or something along those lines. Good luck

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: 1998 Lincoln Town Car Rear Air Ride Suspension

05/13/2011 6:49 PM

Thanks. Yeah, I had a 92 Jaguar Majestic that for some reason Ford/Jag decided it was a good idea to use the Lincoln self leveling suspension. Rode like Hell ! Had to replace it with the original Jag suspension. Cost me 1300 bucks though, and I'm not trying to spend that kind of dough on the wife's 98 vehicle.

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#4

Re: 1998 Lincoln Town Car Rear Air Ride Suspension

05/14/2011 12:17 AM

STOP!

During my lifetime I have owned several of the Lincolns with the air suspension that you have. In fact I think I may even have had the '88 town car you are trouble shooting. What I am going to tell you might sound like some whitch craft but it is the way to manipulate the rear and/or front suspensions:

There is a combination of shutting the ignition on and off and opening the driver side door several times that will manually manipulate the air suspension. Unfortunately there have been too many cars in my life since then to remember the exact sequence but that is how it is done. I would suggest you attempt to find a copy of the mechanics manual, do a search on the internet something like "88 lincoln town car air suspension", suscribe to alldatadiy internet service, talk nice to a local lincoln service manager or mechanic, or try a service center which has done some work on town cars and might have an old chilton's or other reference. I don't think it is in the owners manual.

Honest, this is what does it. I was sceptical when I first read it but it really works! It certainly is cheaper than replacing one of those air springs. It cost several hundred dollars about 20 years ago.

Good Luck, Old Salt

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: 1998 Lincoln Town Car Rear Air Ride Suspension

05/14/2011 11:56 AM

Thanks Old Salt,

Sometimes the old "witch craft" ways do work, so it is certainly worth trying. Will try this when I reconvene with this project this afternoon. If this does not work, I will check for a faulty suspension switch (in trunk), then check the individual relief valves (leveling switch) on each axle before replacing the compressor or the air bags themselves. Thank all of you for your help and I'll report back with my results.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: 1998 Lincoln Town Car Rear Air Ride Suspension

05/14/2011 2:32 PM

My source for the "witch craft" method was the manufacturer's shop manual. Try to see if you can get a look at one of them. It is the best source for the information.

Good Luck, Old Salt

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#7

Re: 1998 Lincoln Town Car Rear Air Ride Suspension

05/16/2011 8:24 AM

After replacing the relay (fuse), could you hear the air compressor running?

If not, I suspect your air compressor failed (blew fuse). Your finding pressure in the system was residual though that probably would not explain finding the air bags suddenly low unless you have had a slow leak for a long time and the air compressor gave out trying to keep up. In this case, replace the air compressor.

For my quirky operating air suspension system, I ended up replacing the control module located behind the glove compartment. (found one at a junk yard).

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: 1998 Lincoln Town Car Rear Air Ride Suspension

05/16/2011 9:46 AM

Yes, I did hear the air compressor intermittantly kick on and off. Thanks for the tip on the control module, that's one item I hadn't thought of and haven't checked. In researching the pricing of various components of the system (relief valves, air bags, compressor, etc.) and due to the age and mileage (120,000+) on the vehicle, I may just decide to replace the rear suspension with a conversion kit consisting of springs and shocks.

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: 1998 Lincoln Town Car Rear Air Ride Suspension

05/19/2011 11:22 PM

If you determine that you want to convert, the Town Car is basically the same as a Crown Vic, or Grand Marquis. The Ford has coil springs, and should be easy to fine in junk yards. Good luck.

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: 1998 Lincoln Town Car Rear Air Ride Suspension

05/20/2011 5:53 AM

Thanks Bob. I have decided to convert to conventional suspension. Might even go the salvage yard route. Thanks again.

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: 1998 Lincoln Town Car Rear Air Ride Suspension

05/20/2011 9:45 AM

That will free up the air compressor for use with the air cannon.

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