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Mark, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Buick
Satisfied Customers: 847
Experience:  34+ yrs Dealership Exp. - Fully State & ASE Certified - GM Master & GM World Class Tech
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Buick Rainier CXL: Is it advisable to replace air suspension

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Is it advisable to replace air suspension on rear of a Rainier with a coil conversion kit?
Greetings and welcome to Just Answer. My name is Mark.

I was going to ask why you wanted to know if it was advisable to replace with a coil conversion, but then when I opened the question and saw you had a 700 dollar est. I understood why.

Personally, I would alter anything that wasn't stock from the factory. Too many variable involved. And what is that saying? "Anytime you change A, you can expect there to be change in B".

I would shop around. 700 seems awful high on such a simple repair. Probably takes 1/2 hr. at the most to install a couple air bags. Pays an hour flat rate I do believe. A very simple job. You just cut out the old ones and install the new ones, air them up, and you set to go.

Maybe find out what you can purchase them for and have a friend or you favorite mechanic other than a dealer install. Just a thought.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Let me tell you my skill set. I have always changed my own brake pads, rotors and such. Just changed my starter on this Buick Rainier ( through front wheel well). So do you think this would be something I might tackle myself?
Yes, I don't see an issue here. I remember the first time I did one, I looked at it, looked at the service manual, and was a little intimidated. But then when I got done, I couldn't believe how easy it was.

You really should have a hoist though. The suspension needs to hang down to be able to get the air suspension bags in and out.

If you do indeed have a hoist, then the first step is to relieve the air pressure. That air compressor is in the back on the passenger's side. Should be 2 vacuum lines going from the compressor to the bags. You might have to actually remove the compressor, removing the compressor bracket bolts and drop the compressor down to gain access to the vacuum lines.

Then the vacuum lines on top of the bags are kinda like "Chinese finger" theory. You need to push "down" on the coupler to release and pull the vacuum line out. Might seem kinda confusing, but once you get it, you'll understand how it works.

I have enclosed the actual service manual instructions for you to look over. It is in a WORD doc form. Let me know if you have any issue opening the document.

CLICK HERE for the document on the air bag replacement.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Document states for installation to lower the vehicle slightly

below D-height position. What is that? Another question comes to mind

Seems unlikely both bags would develop leaks at same time. If only one bag is bad, would it not sit unlevel left to right? Always sits real low 1st thing in AM. If compressor comes on, stays inflated several hours. If one bag is bad, would it bleed off the air from good bag? I understand that only one is most likely leaking, but I need to replace in pairs. Should I get reg. or hvy duty bags? And I believe it would be a good time to change shocks at the same time. Agree?
You bring up some good points here. First of all, the "D" height measurement is really just like the "covering" of all bases when working on a vehicle. GM, as most doctors, always seem to "check-this" and "check-that" before and after repairs. Like, disconnect the battery before changing the oil. It is just a safeguard.

Checking this measurement is listed below and you can see it is just to check for any physical damage so you don't blame you trim height on bad suspension components.

D Height Measurement

1. Jounce the rear suspension of the vehicle by pushing the vehicle down and lifting up.
2. Allow the vehicle to settle and take a measurement.

Object Number: 93

3. Measure between the axle bracket and jounce bumper mount bracket as shown in graphic.
4. If any of these measurements are out of specifications, inspect for the following conditions:
Worn or damaged suspension components
Collision damage

As far as just one or both bags being bad, most likely they are both bad. It is not that they break or have a hole in them, it's the fact that they deteriorate. They are made of rubber, and they weather crack and become porous. If you take a spray bottle with a soapy solution and spray on the bags, you'll notice they will foam. Air is just seeping out of the rubber. That's why they stay inflated and go soft over-night.

As far as regular or heavy duty. If you're not towing anything and the vehicle is pretty much stock, I would just stick with what was on there. Original stock GM.

And as far as your shocks are concern, that's totally up to you. There is no set procedure for "if and when" on replacing your shocks. If they are leaking, then most definitely. Shocks are hydraulic and they really don't "wear-out" so to speak. Again, if you opt to replace your shocks, I would stay original GM. You'll have a dozen different choices when it comes to aftermarket shocks, along with a dozen different price ranges. All too often we get customer's who are not happy with the ride they get from aftermarket shocks.
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