Tackling the well-known BMW X5 E53 air ride suspension issues can be a real pain, especially after multiple trips to your local mechanic or dealer. Following these few simple steps can save you a lot of time, money and give you the knowledge of where your problem lies. If you have the “Self-Level Suspension Inac” or your BMW is sitting lower than normal, this guide will help you identify the problem and give you steps on how to fix most known issues.
1) First, open the trunk and remove the spare tire. Underneath is a dome housing, and inside the housing is your air suspension pump and relays. Check the cabling from the housing, and make sure it is still properly connected and inspect the area for sitting water. Models with a sunroof have been known to have clogged drainage lines and will often drain into the trunk pooling right at the battery. If you see pooling water, you probably have electrical issues and need to see a mechanic right away.
2) Turn on the vehicle and listen for the compressor to run, or have a friend help you listen to the compressor. In some models, simply opening a door will turn the compressor on, other models will need the vehicle started and running. If you can hear the compressor running and the vehicle begins to raise, let the suspension do what it is supposed to, and raise the vehicle to it’s normal height. Drive around the block once or twice if you need to.
3) Once the vehicle has brought itself to the factory ride height, turn off the vehicle and take a walk around it a few times listening for any sounds. If you hear a hissing and the vehicle is slowly lowering, you have a pneumatic problem, a leak in an air spring, line or valve. Take a spray bottle filled with soapy water and spray down the components of your air suspension, the air lines, air springs/struts and valves. If you see any consistent bubbling, you can be sure that part has a leak and needs to be replaced immediately. Leaving an air suspension component that has sprung a leak will quickly burn out your compressor pump.
4) If your vehicle had risen to the factory height, but one side is sitting at a different height than the other, you probably have an electrical problem. These types of issues can be a bit more involved as it will require you to check multiple fuses and relays in different areas of your vehicle with a quality multimeter.
If you still have the spare tire removed, and the housing off the air compressor pump, start by checking the fuses numbered 79 (7.5 amp) and 87 (30 amp) with your multimeter on continuity. Some models have this relay on the right side of the luggage compartment. If those test fine, head to the glove box, and check fuse number 57 (15 amp). If you have both front and rear air suspension, another Air Supply Control Unit relay is located behind the glove box and in some instances, can be the issue of your air suspension problems. One final option is to check the ride height level sensors by removing the tires and inspecting each sensor next to the air spring. If the sensors are stuck, they can be reading your vehicle at different levels, and need to be replaced.
Suncore carries a full line of air suspension components for your BMW X5, and we also carry a full line of suspension conversion kits for when you are tired of hunting down the issues in your air ride.