BMW X5 E70 Air Suspension Issues Explained

In this brief article we are going to discuss the different BMW X5 E70 Air Suspension problems, what the causes are, and their troubleshooting Tips.

What are the most common air suspension issues in a BMW X5 E70? 

The most common BMW X5 E70 air suspension issues are:

  • Rear End Sagging
  • Level Control Error Message

BMW X5 Suspension Set-up

The X5 is BMW’s mid-size crossover luxury SUV. It was launched in 1999 on the E53 chassis platform in the first generation of X5 made upto 2006. The subsequent platforms of the X5 were E70, F15/F85 and G05.

In the X5 Platform, the Front suspension set-up is a Double Wishbone set-up with a coilover Strut. There are 2 separate Lower Control Arms and therefore 2 Lower Ball-joints for wheel Spindle with a Torsion bar & coil springs. 

The Rear suspension of the X5 is a 3-link independent suspension (lower control arm, Upper control arm and a Toe control arm) with Torsion bar & coil springs. The lower control arm was a 2-in-1 link with 2 bushing joints to the subframe and for this reason the trailing arm was eliminated.

In the E70 generation, Self-Leveling Air suspension came as standard with every X5 with the X5 M and cars with 3rd row seating. The self-leveling air suspension was also available as an option in certain model years. The rear suspension would be the same as standard with the coil spring replaced by an air spring.

Rear end Sagging

  • Rear suspension loses ride height completely
  • Driving in this condition feels like there is no suspension

Root Causes:

  • Rear air suspension sags due to loss in air pressure
  • The air pressure loss could either be due to 
    • A failed compressor, or
    • A leakage in the air suspension system

Preliminary observation:

  • First make sure the car is parked on a surface with no slope.
  • Now measure the vertical distance from tire top to the bottom of the fender on the sagging side as well as the non sagging side

Troubleshooting Rear end Sagging: Air Compressor

  • First listen to see whether the compressor turns on 
  • If the compressor does not turn on there is a high probability that the compressor fuse might be blown
  • Check the compressor fuse (orange 40A fuse) within the fuse box located under the dashboard on the passenger side
  • If the Fuse is blown it most probably means that the compressor has failed
  • In a majority of cases, the car will be unable to raise itself, even if the compressor runs. You can easily check by replacing the Relay and the Fuse and seeing whether 
    • There is compressor working noise
    • The suspension starts to raise

If this fails to happen, then it is almost confirmed that the issue with the compressor

  • Replace the compressor in your suspension system
  • You will need to test whether the new compressor responds to the system

For this you need to access the Air-suspension control unit located behind the rear seat inside of the trim panel

  • Once you access the fuse-box, reset the air suspension by pulling out and refixing the red 10 Amp fuse.
  • Once the reset has been done, if the compressor works properly, it will cause the rear suspension to rise in height.

Troubleshooting Rear end Sagging: Air Spring

  • If there is loss of suspension height in spite of a properly working air compressor, then the air leakages could be the next thing to suspect.
  • Air leakage related suspension sagging generally is seen when the car is parked overnight and sometimes even over a period of days.
  • Air springs are known to wear out and crack at the rubber bellow surface gradually after accumulating mileage. They generally would last 70K to 80K miles depending on usage
  • In a high mileage vehicle, the air springs would be the first place to check for leakages.
  • Leakages can be found by using a soapy water spray over the surface of the air spring bellow.
  • Make sure that the Air bellow already has air pressure. This can be done by starting the vehicle and waiting for it to raise itself.
  • Pray the soapy water solutions and wait to see if there are whilte foam bubbles that stay at one spot even after wiping it with a finger.
  • If you cannot detect the leak in the air spring then you will need to spray the soapy solution at the valves and air lines as well to see where the leakage might be.
  • In cases where the leak of major, you even hear hissing noise coming from the leakage point and be able to locate it by ear
  • Before removing the air spring, be sure to relieve the air pressure from it at the valve block, which is located in the underbody on the passenger side.
  • Relieve the left or right air spring valve by loosening the connector gradually. If this is done suddenly, then you could damage the O-rings within the air connector.

Pro-Tip:

  • Aftermarket replacement bellows tend to give a higher service life as compare to the OE parts
  • Some aftermarket parts also come with a lifetime warranty instead of limited warranties offer by BMW

‘Level Control’ Error Message

  • When turning ON the ignition the center console displays an error with the ‘Level Control’ system

Root Causes:

  • This error is mostly coming from the circuit concerned with sensing the ride height
  • If the ride height reading turns out to be outside of the system preset limits, this error will show
  • The reasons for this happening are many since the fault could be due to any component in the circuit

Troubleshooting ‘Level Control’ Error Message

  • In a Diagnostic tool, Go to the module EHC (Electronic Ride height Control) and look for the error codes
  • Look to see if the fault is detected at any particular corner as the source of error
  • Visually inspect the particular corner sensor underneath the vehicle
  • See whether the connections are corroded
  • If the connections seem OK and still there seems to be an error, it might be the sensor itself that is defective
  • In order to confirm this, replace the sensor then check if the error persists.

Conclusion

In this brief article we have discussed the different BMW X5 E70 Air Suspension problems, what the causes are, and Troubleshooting Tips.

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