Cadillac Escalade Air Suspension Issues Explained(+5 Tips)

In this brief article we are going to discuss the different Cadillac Escalade Air Suspension problems, what the causes are, and Troubleshooting Tips.

Top most common air suspension issues in the Cadillac Escalade? 

The most common air suspension issues seen in the Cadillac Escalade are:

  • Poor Ride Quality
  • Service Ride control warning

What suspension does the Cadillac Escalade have?

The Cadillac Escalade was first launched by GM in 1999 as a Full-size luxury SUV. For the first 3 generations, the Cadillac Escalade shared the same platform as other GM products like the GMC Yukon Denali and GMC Suburban.

Front Suspension

The Cadillac Escalade has a Double-Wishbone type of Front suspension consisting of an Upper and Lower Control arm, Coilover shock absorber strut and Anti roll bar. This arrangement is mounted onto the front subframe.

Rear Suspension

From the 5th generation (2015) onwards, the Cadillac Escalade had a 4-Link independent rear suspension with a Coil Spring, Shock absorber and a Rear anti-roll bar.

Till 2014, the rear suspension was a live axle 4-link type suspension with 2 upper and 2 lower control arms and a Panhard (track) rod.

The RPO code Z55 came with Active Magneto-Rheological Dampers that instantaneously altered damping settings according to road conditions at each individual corner according to the driver selected Drive mode. It is also called AutoRide suspension. Apart from Dampers, the Z55 pack had the rear Self-leveling air suspension with adjustable ride height.

Poor Ride Quality


  • Ride feels harsh in spite of the vehicle having Autoride Active dampers
  • No diagnostic error codes from the Electronic suspension module
  • Explained as seen in GMT 900 platform Escalade with Z55 RPO Code

Root Causes:

  • Poor ride quality could be due to either Failed shock absorbers, or
  • The Electronic Suspension Control module might be malfunctioning due to some reason

Troubleshooting Poor Ride Quality: Failed Shock absorbers

  • If your vehicle has crossed 50K miles, then it could be due for a shock replacement. Due to long-term internal wear, the shock starts becoming ineffective over time.
  • If the front/rear strut shock has started leaking oil due to a failed oil-seal, then it means that the shock will no longer be effective. Shock absorber oil leaks can easily be spotted by looking for oil stains on the bottom tube as well as near to the rod seal.
  • One good way to tell if your shock has failed or not is to do a “Bounce Test”. Put all your weight on one of the front corners of the vehicle pushing it downwards. Keep oscillating the corner till you feel that it has reached its maximum height. Once you take your hands off the corner, observe how it settles. If it takes more than 2 oscillations to settle, that means the damper has failed.
  • Once the Strut Shock absorber has been dismantled, there is one more way to see the shock condition for yourself by way of a ‘Compression’ test. 
  • You can simply apply force on the top of the shock and compress it. If it can come back up on its own, then the shock is in fairly good condition. But if it takes too long or doesn’t expand on its own, it’s confirmed that the shock absorber has failed.
  • The Top mounting Bolts in the Rear Shocks of the Cadillac Escalade are located on the chassis side
  • In the Cadillac Escalades that are Autoride equipped (RPO Z55), the strut top mount has a connector to the electronic suspension control (ESC) system. 
  • Be careful not to damage these connectors during removal because the replacement shock does not come with new connectors. You will need to reuse the old connectors.
  • The rear shocks come with electrical as well as ari connections that need to be carefully removed from the old shock and refitted to the new shock


  • As per most Shock absorber manufacturers’ recommendation, a new shock absorber must always be ‘Started’ before it is fitted. To ‘Start’ a shock absorber, you must oscillate it 3-5 times by hand.
  • The reason for doing this is that when the shock absorber was stored lying down, in the fully compressed or expanded condition, the hydraulic fluid may not have flowed completely to one side of the piston. When this happens, the shock absorber will jerk during operation. ‘Starting’ will help to avoid this sort of jerky operation.
  • It is always recommended to either loosen or tighten the Lower mounting bolts of the rear shock absorber only when the rear axle has been supported either using a Hydraulic jack or a jack-stand.

Troubleshooting Poor Ride Quality: Electronic Suspension Control Fault

  • Before concluding that the shock absorber is at fault, it is best to verify if the shock absorber is the only faulty component. Check the Autoride ESC and see whether it is showing any diagnostic fault codes
  • The best way to do this is to first plug in a GM diagnostic tool
  • In the diagnostics, within the Electronic Suspension control module, you need to Activate the shock which is suspect and then repeat the Bounce test
  • Check also for electrical continuity by measuring the resistance of the wires that connect to the ESC Module. You can do this while Activating the particular strut using the GM diagnostic tool.
  • Ideally, when the shock is activated, during the bounce test the suspension must become hard and not move at all, indicating that the active damping of the shock is functioning
  • If there was any issue in the ESC would throw a diagnostic code and not be able to activate the shock absorber

Service Ride Control warning Message

  • “Service Ride Control” message appears on the display
  • Compressor does not turn on; no sound, after starting the engine

Root Causes:

  • Newly fitted compressor not recognized
  • Faulty Air Struts
  • Faulty Air Compressor
  • Faulty Compressor Exhaust valve
  • Faulty Compressor Wiring

Troubleshooting Service Ride Control Message

The first step should be to run a diagnostic. Within the diagnostics tool navigate to the ‘Electronic Suspension Control Module’ and look for diagnostic fault codes in the History.

If a diagnostic tool is immediately not at your disposal, you could do the following common sense checks:

Newly Fitted Compressor

  • The compressor does not come on because the new part was not recognized by the ESC. It has not detected the resistance of this component and therefore fails to recognize it.
  • The one best method is to do a System reset
  • Disconnect the battery for about 10-15 minutes
  • Reconnect the battery and then turn on the ignition
  • The error message would mostly disappear

Compressor not Turning ON

  • Check the compressor and visually inspect for physical damage or rust. Corroded compressors tend to fail quicker
  • Check the compressor exhaust valve for damage or dislodging
  • Visually inspect for any broken wiring or connectors

Rear Autoride Air Strut Leak

  • The Rear suspension Autoride Air Struts can be checked by touching the rubber bellow. This check can only be done if the compressor is working. Ideally, the bellow surface must feel tight at all times, indicating a minimum required air pressure retention.
  • If, on touching, the air struts feel loose and saggy, that means a lack of air pressure and possible leakage


In this brief article we have discussed the differentCadillac Escalade Suspension problems, what the causes are, and Troubleshooting Tips.

For any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch with us.

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