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Old 06-24-2020, 01:49 PM   #1
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Replace Auto-leveling shocks and compressor or do something different?

Hello,

I have a 2011 Yukon Denali XL for a TV and our TT is an Apex Ultra-Lite 300BHS. I've included a photo that shows how my TV is not level.

I took it to the dealer and they adjusted the Fastway E2 hitch and stabilizer bars up 1 notch and this helped some but the back-end of the TV still sags and the front end is up in the air. Yesterday I took it to a mechanic and they found that the Auto-leveler air compressor is shot and needs replaced and then after replacing that, they can then tell me if the shocks are also bad. that could end up costing about $2,500 and then I'm wondering if I'm going to have to do this again in a few years?

I was wondering if anyone has ran into this and are there alternative solutions? are there conversion kits out there that you have used to take it from an auto-leveling system to a "normal" heavy duty rear shock system?

I see that Dorman and Monroe make air compressor/suspension conversion kits. I'm really not sure which way to go.

thank you for your input and sharing your experience as I'm a newby to this. Trying to prepare for a 600 mile trip for a family vacation and want to be safe.
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Old 06-24-2020, 02:16 PM   #2
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If the SUV sits level when unhitched and sags when hitched it sounds like you’re overloading the SUV. It could be the air springs are unable to support up to their rated capacity due to some malfunction or failure, sure, but we can’t tell you that for sure over the Internet.

Did your SUV and trailer combo ever sit properly or has this always been a problem with the trailer? That will help us understand if this is a new behavior or not.

Just remember that auto leveling suspension does not take the place of a properly set WDH or fix and overloaded situation.
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Old 06-24-2020, 02:38 PM   #3
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If the SUV sits level when unhitched and sags when hitched it sounds like you’re overloading the SUV. It could be the air springs are unable to support up to their rated capacity due to some malfunction or failure, sure, but we can’t tell you that for sure over the Internet.

Did your SUV and trailer combo ever sit properly or has this always been a problem with the trailer? That will help us understand if this is a new behavior or not.

Just remember that auto leveling suspension does not take the place of a properly set WDH or fix and overloaded situation.
thank you DieselDrax. it has never set level or properly, i think the compressor for the stock air auto-leveling system has been bad for a while and hooking up a TT has brought this to my attention. now just wondering how to best move forward and what my options are. thank you.
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Old 06-24-2020, 02:47 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Mweis View Post
thank you DieselDrax. it has never set level or properly, i think the compressor for the stock air auto-leveling system has been bad for a while and hooking up a TT has brought this to my attention. now just wondering how to best move forward and what my options are. thank you.

If the compressor or the air springs were faulty then over time the rear would sag with no load. It could be there’s a sensor or valve not working right or something, but if the SUV seems to be OK when empty or unhitched then I wouldn’t think there were a problem. Air suspension issues are usually quite obvious as they make vehicles look like they’ve been lowered and hit the bump stops often.

That is also a very long and heavy trailer for that SUV and depending on how you have it loaded combined with who or what is in the SUV itself you could very well be overloaded and the air suspension isn’t operating due to sensing the overload.
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Old 06-24-2020, 03:58 PM   #5
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If the compressor or the air springs were faulty then over time the rear would sag with no load. It could be there’s a sensor or valve not working right or something, but if the SUV seems to be OK when empty or unhitched then I wouldn’t think there were a problem. Air suspension issues are usually quite obvious as they make vehicles look like they’ve been lowered and hit the bump stops often.

That is also a very long and heavy trailer for that SUV and depending on how you have it loaded combined with who or what is in the SUV itself you could very well be overloaded and the air suspension isn’t operating due to sensing the overload.
that's what is odd about this, we haven't noticed any issues when unhitched. it seems to ride just fine and doesn't sag. then once we hitch up it sags. I'm not sure if the mechanic i took it to yesterday checked the compressor and said it was bad but I'm not sure if they checked for a "sensor" or "valve" or a "fuse" issue.
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Old 06-24-2020, 04:08 PM   #6
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Unless the mechanic is a friend or can be trusted then they could just be out for your money! With trailer unhooked have you tried to place weight in the back of the SUV to see it auto levels? I am thinking there is simply to much weight on the hitch for your SUV.
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Old 06-25-2020, 02:52 PM   #7
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Arnott

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Originally Posted by Mweis View Post
Hello,

I have a 2011 Yukon Denali XL for a TV and our TT is an Apex Ultra-Lite 300BHS. I've included a photo that shows how my TV is not level.

I took it to the dealer and they adjusted the Fastway E2 hitch and stabilizer bars up 1 notch and this helped some but the back-end of the TV still sags and the front end is up in the air. Yesterday I took it to a mechanic and they found that the Auto-leveler air compressor is shot and needs replaced and then after replacing that, they can then tell me if the shocks are also bad. that could end up costing about $2,500 and then I'm wondering if I'm going to have to do this again in a few years?

I was wondering if anyone has ran into this and are there alternative solutions? are there conversion kits out there that you have used to take it from an auto-leveling system to a "normal" heavy duty rear shock system?

I see that Dorman and Monroe make air compressor/suspension conversion kits. I'm really not sure which way to go.

thank you for your input and sharing your experience as I'm a newby to this. Trying to prepare for a 600 mile trip for a family vacation and want to be safe.
We had a similar problem with our 2006 Yukon XL Denali. Get Arnott replacements. If you order through Advance Auto, you can get a healthy discount. Or you can get the Dorman parts. Both have lifetime warranties.

I changed all the parts out myself--not that difficult.
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Old 06-25-2020, 03:26 PM   #8
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We had a similar problem with our 2006 Yukon XL Denali. Get Arnott replacements. If you order through Advance Auto, you can get a healthy discount. Or you can get the Dorman parts. Both have lifetime warranties.

I changed all the parts out myself--not that difficult.

thank you Larry, it looks like Arnott has good stuff (Compressor and 2 rear shocks) also thinking about replacing the coil springs while at it with some MOOG 81069's to get a bit more support.
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Old 06-25-2020, 04:22 PM   #9
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I pulled a 6600 (unloaded) 33' trailer with a 2010 Escalade. With your Denali, you have got to be at or exceeding the 7800lb towing capacity.

I was using a Fastway E2 trunnion style hitch.

Here's my experience: (one year)
- replaced tranny
- replaced 2 sets of air ride Magnaride shocks
- motor mounts (2)
- added trans cooler
- excessive tire wear
- still had issues with the Esky running hot.
- cooling system flush
- cooling system upgrade (radiator)
- still had issues running hot.
- stopped pulling with it and bought an F350 (overkill).

Never had issues getting it to ride level. Needed to use a larger drop shank (12") because of where the hitch mount was. Followed instructions to a t and it was good.

That 415 hp 6.2 would haul the camper with ease. However I knew I was going to blow it up at some point.

I have bought Arnott shocks in the past (for my Denali) however, I don't think that they support Magnaride which will cause issues and you'll need the bypass modules. What I would do is buy the AC Delco OE shocks from Amazon and put them on yourself or give a buddy a case of beer and have him do it. Easy swap.

They are around $200-250 on Amazon. Same as you'd buy from the dealer for twice as much.
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Old 06-25-2020, 04:29 PM   #10
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Level-air suspension

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thank you Larry, it looks like Arnott has good stuff (Compressor and 2 rear shocks) also thinking about replacing the coil springs while at it with some MOOG 81069's to get a bit more support.
Not sure about replacing the springs. The Level-Air system leveled the tow vehicle just fine. In fact we couldn't use the front-end lift measurement to adjust the Weight Distribution Hitch unless we made sure the engine was off.

Here are a couple of tips:
The compressor has two bolts, one from each side. Once they are out, it's held on the frame by two shoulder rivets that go into keyhole slots on the frame. Lift it and it will come right out.
The hoses are held on with spring clips. The originals (on the 2006) were plastic and some degraded and failed. GMC parts now provides sturdy metal replacements. They come five to a bag for $25, but my friendly GMC parts lady was willing to break a bag for me and sell the two I needed.
If you ever need to disable the system (on a 2006), the relay (standard automotive relay) is clipped to the underside of the under-hood fuse/electronics box. Just unplug the cable from the relay.

DW's dowry when she came to me was the 2006 Yukon XL and a 22-foot Nash travel trailer. We had planned to keep these for a long time. Unfortunately she totaled the Denali in a head-on collision a week or two ago. Her new ride is a 2015 GMC 2500 SLE crew-cab pickup. I'm sure that adjusting the WDH will be interesting as the receiver is 7-1/2 inches further from the ground.
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Old 06-25-2020, 04:36 PM   #11
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Bypass modules

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Originally Posted by 007matman View Post
I have bought Arnott shocks in the past (for my Denali) however, I don't think that they support Magnaride which will cause issues and you'll need the bypass modules. What I would do is buy the AC Delco OE shocks from Amazon and put them on yourself or give a buddy a case of beer and have him do it. Easy swap.

They are around $200-250 on Amazon. Same as you'd buy from the dealer for twice as much.
Avoid the bypass modules for sure. They are simply a big resistor which replaces the variable resistor within the front shocks to prevent a "Level-Air" warning. But they also disable the handling features.

When I ordered the replacements online (new shocks all around), the first shocks that Advance Auto sent were the ones that needed the bypass. I called and insisted on the better ones which didn't cost that much more. They had me drop the "fake" ones at a local store for a refund.

Hint: The Advance Auto prices online are much better than the in-store prices. Order and pay online for in-store pickup, whether your item is normally stocked or not, and you will save a bundle.
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Old 06-25-2020, 05:07 PM   #12
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Not sure about replacing the springs. The Level-Air system leveled the tow vehicle just fine. In fact we couldn't use the front-end lift measurement to adjust the Weight Distribution Hitch unless we made sure the engine was off.

Here are a couple of tips:
The compressor has two bolts, one from each side. Once they are out, it's held on the frame by two shoulder rivets that go into keyhole slots on the frame. Lift it and it will come right out.
The hoses are held on with spring clips. The originals (on the 2006) were plastic and some degraded and failed. GMC parts now provides sturdy metal replacements. They come five to a bag for $25, but my friendly GMC parts lady was willing to break a bag for me and sell the two I needed.
If you ever need to disable the system (on a 2006), the relay (standard automotive relay) is clipped to the underside of the under-hood fuse/electronics box. Just unplug the cable from the relay.

DW's dowry when she came to me was the 2006 Yukon XL and a 22-foot Nash travel trailer. We had planned to keep these for a long time. Unfortunately she totaled the Denali in a head-on collision a week or two ago. Her new ride is a 2015 GMC 2500 SLE crew-cab pickup. I'm sure that adjusting the WDH will be interesting as the receiver is 7-1/2 inches further from the ground.
The relay for the newer trucks is in the fuse box that is located under the hood. There is a Fastway video on YouTube I used to identify it.. it's not real obvious looking at the diagram.
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Old 06-25-2020, 11:07 PM   #13
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Is there a warning light for the system to say it’s not working or the system is overloaded?
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Old 06-26-2020, 06:59 PM   #14
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Is there a warning light for the system to say it’s not working or the system is overloaded?
Service suspension message will appear if the front shocks are dead or damaged. It can also appear if the auto-leveling system encounters a bad sensor or broken/bent linkage.

I don't think I ever saw a message when my rear shocks or the compressor went out.
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Old 06-26-2020, 10:20 PM   #15
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hate to say it, but sounds like your exceeding the suspensions capability. Air ride suspensions for passenger vehicles, and frankly an SUV is a passenger vehicle, aren't meant for heavy loads like the systems in say, the RAM. They are meant for comfort of the passengers.

Have you weighed the rig and compared the scale weights with the payload, GVWR and GAWR? I highly suggest this as a first step before throwing any money at it. Reason I say this is if the air suspension were faulty, it wouldn't work properly loaded or unloaded.

Air suspensions rely on PSI and volume, and the pumps are only capable of so much PSI and there are cutoffs as well to prevent pump burnouts. If the system is faulty it will throw a code within a few minutes of not being able to raise the rear and quit. This is most likely to happen when a pump is worn and can't supply enough pressure to fill the bags.

With any towing of a large trailer, first step is to always get the weights of all axles, it is crucial for proper setup and safety. GAWR are there to prevent damage to bearing and mounts, and GVWR is for keeping the vehicle within it's guidelines for stability as well as excessive wear. The tags with the information you need is either on the drivers door or the B pillar on the drivers side, Weights and capacities. Do this first before doing anything else, and if any of it exceeds a rating, then you will know for sure an overload is the problem and not the air system. Costs no more than $15 at a CAT scale, if you can't find one, look for a township nearby, they may have a scale you can use.

Now if you are within all weight ratings, next step, with the trailer unhitched, and the vehicle parked, measure the front and rear wheel wells, then turn the system off and leave it sit a few days. Before opening a door or unlocking it, measure the wheel wells again, and compare to the previous measurements. Make sure that the doors were never opened or the vehicle unlocked as this can bleed the system, many of these systems are tied to the doors and bleed down to a set ride height after the passengers weight is removed, and will do so every time the locks are cycled or a door is opened.

If the measurements are the same, then the system is tight. Next, time how long it takes for the pump to cycle. One person should be maybe a minute, maybe less, 4 people could be a few minutes. If it takes more than 5 minutes to cycle, there is a good chance the pump is weak, and should be replaced. You could replace it yourself as they are not that complicated, just tricky to get to on most vehicles. We have a 95 Grand Marquis that uses it, pump was $110. It is buried under the washer fluid bottle and next to the ABS unit. It comes out from above, but the bolts to loosen it are underneath. Don't know where GM puts it, but they are pretty simple to replace once you figure out where it is and what needs to be moved out of the way. Usually just one electric connection and one or tow air lines depending on where the bleed off valve is located.

From what I read so far, I highly doubt there is a limit switch issue, if there was it would throw codes and there would be a pronounced lean or permanent sag.
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Old 06-27-2020, 08:28 AM   #16
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Me either

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I don't think I ever saw a message when my rear shocks or the compressor went out.
No message when an air hose came off a rear shock/airbag. Just heard the compressor running continuously. GM says the compressor will stop after six minutes if running continuously to prevent burnout, but it's a fib.
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Old 06-27-2020, 08:31 AM   #17
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hate to say it, but sounds like your exceeding the suspensions capability. Air ride suspensions for passenger vehicles, and frankly an SUV is a passenger vehicle, aren't meant for heavy loads like the systems in say, the RAM. They are meant for comfort of the passengers.

Have you weighed the rig and compared the scale weights with the payload, GVWR and GAWR? I highly suggest this as a first step before throwing any money at it. Reason I say this is if the air suspension were faulty, it wouldn't work properly loaded or unloaded.

Air suspensions rely on PSI and volume, and the pumps are only capable of so much PSI and there are cutoffs as well to prevent pump burnouts. If the system is faulty it will throw a code within a few minutes of not being able to raise the rear and quit. This is most likely to happen when a pump is worn and can't supply enough pressure to fill the bags.

With any towing of a large trailer, first step is to always get the weights of all axles, it is crucial for proper setup and safety. GAWR are there to prevent damage to bearing and mounts, and GVWR is for keeping the vehicle within it's guidelines for stability as well as excessive wear. The tags with the information you need is either on the drivers door or the B pillar on the drivers side, Weights and capacities. Do this first before doing anything else, and if any of it exceeds a rating, then you will know for sure an overload is the problem and not the air system. Costs no more than $15 at a CAT scale, if you can't find one, look for a township nearby, they may have a scale you can use.

Now if you are within all weight ratings, next step, with the trailer unhitched, and the vehicle parked, measure the front and rear wheel wells, then turn the system off and leave it sit a few days. Before opening a door or unlocking it, measure the wheel wells again, and compare to the previous measurements. Make sure that the doors were never opened or the vehicle unlocked as this can bleed the system, many of these systems are tied to the doors and bleed down to a set ride height after the passengers weight is removed, and will do so every time the locks are cycled or a door is opened.

If the measurements are the same, then the system is tight. Next, time how long it takes for the pump to cycle. One person should be maybe a minute, maybe less, 4 people could be a few minutes. If it takes more than 5 minutes to cycle, there is a good chance the pump is weak, and should be replaced. You could replace it yourself as they are not that complicated, just tricky to get to on most vehicles. We have a 95 Grand Marquis that uses it, pump was $110. It is buried under the washer fluid bottle and next to the ABS unit. It comes out from above, but the bolts to loosen it are underneath. Don't know where GM puts it, but they are pretty simple to replace once you figure out where it is and what needs to be moved out of the way. Usually just one electric connection and one or tow air lines depending on where the bleed off valve is located.

From what I read so far, I highly doubt there is a limit switch issue, if there was it would throw codes and there would be a pronounced lean or permanent sag.
Thank you so much for this information. It seems like the overall consensus is that my vehicle is not really the right vehicle for this camper. Salesman of course made it sound perfectly fine. And maybe for short trips it would be. But based on some of the longer trips were planning to make, we’re starting to look at different tow vehicles.

Hoping that the Ford F150 would be more of a match for what we are trying to do.
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Old 06-27-2020, 08:33 AM   #18
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Is there a warning light for the system to say it’s not working or the system is overloaded?
No, never had any warning lights pop up at all. And the compressor pump is definitely bad and not working.
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Old 06-27-2020, 09:07 AM   #19
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Thank you so much for this information. It seems like the overall consensus is that my vehicle is not really the right vehicle for this camper. Salesman of course made it sound perfectly fine. And maybe for short trips it would be. But based on some of the longer trips were planning to make, we’re starting to look at different tow vehicles.

Hoping that the Ford F150 would be more of a match for what we are trying to do.
Careful with the F-150. Finding one with the right equipment group and tow capacity is kinda like looking for a needle in a haystack. Most of them on the market are not equipped to handle that size of a camper.

I ended up with an F350 so I didn't need to worry if I decided to go to a larger camper later. The fact that cost was similar to a newer F150 and insurance was cheaper was a good bonus.
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Old 06-27-2020, 10:04 AM   #20
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Careful with the F-150. Finding one with the right equipment group and tow capacity is kinda like looking for a needle in a haystack. Most of them on the market are not equipped to handle that size of a camper.

I ended up with an F350 so I didn't need to worry if I decided to go to a larger camper later. The fact that cost was similar to a newer F150 and insurance was cheaper was a good bonus.

That’s great info. We are shopping now and need to get better educated on what we need. What types of “equipment group” or things to watch for with the F-150?
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