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Audi allroad air ride adjustment has mind of its own!

I have a 2003 Audi allroad - in 2011 the airride was stuck in 1st position. Had to have solenoid pack and compressor replaced ($1600). The garage actually suggested strongly I should have it taken out altogether (which would have cost $2000). Short time after that the car started deflating the airride at will - - - not consistently, but initially whenever I opened the car door (in garage only); then, if I opened a second time, it would re-inflate. Now it does that, again at will, but frequently, when I open any door including rear hatch, and sometimes it does try to/reinflate, but not always. Sometimes if parked overnight, all’s well in the morning, sometimes not.
I had it in the shop, and they say the computer doesn’t show a malfunction. Then, about six months ago, I had the tires rotated at the tire shop - and my word - it worked FINE for a few months - no issues, no deflating. (I went back to the tire shop to thank the mechanic and see if he noticed/did anything - he said nothing unusual done) It started making trouble again after I brought it back to the repair shop (always the same repair/oil change) for an oil change…similar thing occurred a few weeks ago after I’d had a tire repair done, then an oil change at the repair shop…
I need help! I am suspicious of the repair shop at this point - and the fact that this is random, (but increasing in frequency) doesn’t make it an emergency repair requirement…seems like the car has a mind of its own, and some wires crossed! so I’ve been hoping that Car Talk can steer me in the right direction.
By the way, it usually only happens at home in garage, occasionally while parked and out doing errands, but the air ride light only came on once a couple months ago while I was driving, and the car adjusted after I pushed the dashbutton to increase height.HELP!

When they lifted your car to rotate the tires, the ride-height sensor mechanism was extended all the way and this somehow caused the system to operate normally…Jack up your car (rear), remove the wheels and inspect the suspension, find the lift sensor and see what it’s problem is…Look for a bent movable arm or misaligned mounting bracket…

Many times air ride problems can be caused by leaking solenoid O-rings or dry rotted air bags. The bags develop cracks around the folds where they mount to the strut and any leaks can be erratic in nature depending up on the tiniest movement in ride height which then affects the fold.
Sometimes this can be detected by applying soapy water to the fold area.

There are replacement kits to do away with the air ride altogether. These are available from companies like American Air Suspension, etc and to head any questions off; I have no affiliation at all with that company.

Okay is right…Replacing the bags with steel springs is the final solution to air suspension problems…

Install this part. There are plenty of them available on ebay. That should tell you something.

I converted my Lincoln to coils a few years back but not out of choice. Coming home one night, at the last minute I saw a piece of farm equipment scrap metal in the road and swerved to miss it. No such luck.
The metal gashed the left front tire and was thrown upwards where it then cut the airbag on that corner. Instant blow out and the nose dropped like a rock.

Thirty degrees outside, a slammed nose, pitch black, 8 miles from home with not a soul around, no cell phone on me, and the factory jack would not fit underneath the car due to the slammed suspension.

So hitchhiked home, rounded up several small floor jacks, came back in another car, and several hours of freezing and cursing later the spare was on… :frowning:

Thank you to all of you - seems for the most part you agree with the shop I took it to - get rid of air ride and therefore adjustment…? Mind you, correct me if I’m wrong on that - you are talking to somebody who’s new to the Cartalk discussion thing, and just learning to use a grease gun on her snowblower - but that’s a different matter altogether…
Back to your comments - the part I don’t get is why I would lift the rear end and remove wheels/inspect. It is the front end that is moving up and down ‘at will’. Haven’t noticed a thing in the rear. Plus, the noises (air rush) are in the front end only. Does that change anybody’s mind about what’s wrong and what to do?

…by the way - I really like the ride height adjustment feature on this car. I live in rural environment in MI and we get lake effect snow and snow piles…given that, it seems just plain wrong to pay someone to eliminate it. However, I’m prepared to trust you guys more than the repair shop, obviously… Again, I appreciate your experience and thoughts…maybe I have to spend the $2000 short term, eliminate it and save more ‘fixits’ longer term? OR, get it fixed (if the shop can ever figure out what’s wrong exactly) and sell the darn thing?

You could get by with replacing only one strut/bag assembly on the front but dry rotted rubber is universal and it’s better to fix it in one shot. Odds are the other side or the rear would start leaking at some point. It’s the old weak link in the chain scenario; fix one spot and the next weakest will give up.

Personally, I prefer the air ride over coil springs and if money is not as much of an issue then I would swap both front strut/bag assemblies because even on a normal coil spring car one never changes one side only. The rear could be left alone for the time being.

This is all predicated on the leaking air bag theory and that it’s not related to an air line or solenoid O-ring leak, etc.
The reason I mention the dry rot bags is because dry rot seems to occur around the 10 years of age mark and leaks can be random depending upon the stance of the car.

An older Lincoln I used to own was like that. It would remain in a normal stance for a week and then one might walk out one morming and see it nose down. Once aired up, it might retain the stance for a day, week or even a month only to eventually sag again. In this case it was dry rotted folds on the bags also.