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Rear Air Spring Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Rear Air Spring Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$300

Talent:

****

Tools:

Flathead & Phillips screwdrivers, 16mm, 17mm, 8mm sockets. 16mm, 17mm wrenches, floor jack, two jack stands, two wheel chocks, lug wrench, safety glasses, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW X5 (2000-06)

Parts Required:

Rear air spring, rear air spring clips

Hot Tip:

Replace one side at a time

Performance Gain:

Repair leaking air springs

Complementary Modification:

Replace rear shocks

On BMW X5, E53 models, the large lower control arm carries the weight of the car. The rear air spring is mounted in between the lower control arm and the spring perch on the body. As the spring goes over bumps it compresses as it absorbs the shock. A spring that is under tension wants to return to its original position as soon as it can. When the rear coil spring expands it can slam the wheel back into the ground. This alternating between the rear coil spring absorbing the shock and expanding can lead to the car bouncing up and down and a poor ride. The main job of the rear shock absorber is to slow down the rate of return of the rear coil spring so it does not slam back into the road. The coil springs part in this is to maintain a ride height when it returns to the normal rest or loaded position. The air springs in BMW X5 models allow the vehicle to maintain that ride height even when vehicle load on weight changes, giving the X5 an adjustable rear suspension. When replacing your rear air springs, always replace them in a pair.

If your suspension seems to sag or lose ride height, maybe the pump runs too frequently. There may be a leak. To test for leaking air springs, spray the air springs with soapy water and look for bubbles. Bubbles indicate an air leak.

Remember your car may have been serviced before and parts replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

In this tech article, I will go over how to replace the rear air springs on BMW E53 vehicles.

Raise the rear of your vehicle and support it safely on jack stands. See our tech article on vehicle jacking. When jacking, get the vehicle as high as possible. You will have to be able to fit a hydraulic jack under the rear-trailing arm.

The rear shock is shown here (red arrow).
Figure 1

The rear shock is shown here (red arrow). When replacing it, replace any worn parts, such as the fasteners, clips or lines.

Working at the bottom of the rear air spring, near the drive axle (red arrow), lever the retaining clip (yellow arrow) off the air spring.
Figure 2

Working at the bottom of the rear air spring, near the drive axle (red arrow), lever the retaining clip (yellow arrow) off the air spring. Once free, remove the clip from the vehicle (inset).

You are going to have to remove a few pieces of the trunk interior trim.
Figure 3

You are going to have to remove a few pieces of the trunk interior trim. Start by pulling out the center solid carpet (red arrow).

Working at the side trim panels, remove the plastic rivets (red arrow).
Figure 4

Working at the side trim panels, remove the plastic rivets (red arrow). Lever the center tab out using a trim panel tool.

Next, you will have to remove the plastic nuts that secure the plastic bracket to the trunk floor.
Figure 5

Next, you will have to remove the plastic nuts that secure the plastic bracket to the trunk floor. Start by removing the 10mm nut at the panel junction.

Then move toward the front of the trunk area, at the seat back and remove the plastic rivets (red arrows).
Figure 6

Then move toward the front of the trunk area, at the seat back and remove the plastic rivets (red arrows). Lever the center tab out using a trim panel tool.

Next, you will have to remove the plastic nuts that secure the plastic bracket to the trunk floor.
Figure 7

Next, you will have to remove the plastic nuts that secure the plastic bracket to the trunk floor. Start by removing the 10mm nuts (red arrows) at the rear corner of the trunk.

Then, open the storage compartment door and remove it (red arrow) from the vehicle.
Figure 8

Then, open the storage compartment door and remove it (red arrow) from the vehicle.

With the storage compartment door out of the way, lift and remove the rear most plastic bracket (red arrow).
Figure 9

With the storage compartment door out of the way, lift and remove the rear most plastic bracket (red arrow). Then remove the spare tire (yellow arrow) from the vehicle.

With the spare tire out of the way, lift and remove the front most plastic bracket (red arrow).
Figure 10

With the spare tire out of the way, lift and remove the front most plastic bracket (red arrow).

Once all brackets have been removed, you have access to the accumulator (yellow arrow).
Figure 11

Once all brackets have been removed, you have access to the accumulator (yellow arrow). Loosen the 10mm air line (yellow arrow) just enough to bleed the air from the system.

Next remove the rubber cap (red arrow) for the air spring connection.
Figure 12

Next remove the rubber cap (red arrow) for the air spring connection.

Next you have to remove the air spring line.
Figure 13

Next you have to remove the air spring line. Using needle nose pliers, squeeze the plastic retainer (red arrows) together to release the line. Hold the retainer open while you pull the line off the air spring. Be careful not to break the plastic retainer, as they are not available separately. They come with a new accumulator. If needed, see our tech article on rear air spring pump and accumulator replacing.

Pull the air line straight up to remove it.
Figure 14

Pull the air line straight up to remove it.

Next, you have to remove the air spring mounting clips.
Figure 15

Next, you have to remove the air spring mounting clips. Use a flathead screwdriver to lever the clip (red arrow) open. Then slide it off the mounting pin.

Next, you have to remove the second air spring mounting clips.
Figure 16

Next, you have to remove the second air spring mounting clips. Use a flathead screwdriver to lever the clip (red arrow) open. Then slide it off the mounting pin.

Move back to under the vehicle.
Figure 17

Move back to under the vehicle. Lift the air spring up to detach the lower tab (red arrow) from the control arm. Then remove the air spring at an angle. To install the new air spring, reverse the removal steps. The air spring should self-bleed once installed.



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Comments and Suggestions:
Lee Comments: Hi there I replaced the air bags and broke the the plastic retainer, clip do u where I can buy some or a replacement? TA
May 24, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What is the year and model of the vehicle?

I’m not the best with part numbers.

Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Ak47 Comments: I'm battling to remove the brass connector from the male fitting on the air suspension bag. Do you perhaps have a solution for me? Looking forward to your kind reply
May 17, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: if the snap ring is removed, and it won't budge, try lubricating it, then rotate it as you pull straight up. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
storm77 Comments: My big problem now is that the flimsy plastic clips on the air hose has broken. Apparently you can't buy those without buying the entire hose assembly. So I've printed a few on the 3D printer to replace it, but have not perfected the model. If I do, I may sell a few of them online :
March 28, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I bet people would buy them. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
storm77 Comments: I finally used a 1x2" stuck it in as a lever and increased the gap slowly. It open up the gap to where it was easy to insert the air shock.
March 28, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
storm77 Comments: My problem is that I can't get the rear axle to lower enough to get the shock in/out. I stood on the axle but it barely budges. Any suggestions?
March 26, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Is the shock detached? Is the sway bar end link detached? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
storm77 Comments: I found that I had to turn the engine on a few times for the compressor to kick on.
March 26, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the info. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
rick Comments: I just followed above process and installed a new passenger rear air bag but it still seems to be losing air. I sprayed down the new air bag, no leaks, the connection at top of air bag, no leaks, accumolator, no leaks. I havent checked where connection is to air compressor, is it possible? any suggestions....
January 18, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It has to be closer to the compressor if not where you tested. Might be rodent damage on the line toward the compressor. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Tom Comments: You didn't go into detail on filling the air bag, once installed. I replaced my left airbag, per your instructions, however, when I start the car the "Low Air" Warning Light comes on and my air compressor does not come on now. I have checked the fuse and it is fine. Any ideas. Thank you, Tom
October 22, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The airbag fills automatically when the vehicle is switched on. If your pump is not coming on, you have an issue with a sensor, module or pump. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 02:43:19 AM