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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have owned my Armada for almost a year now, and love it.
As I have mentioned, I got it ridiculously cheap with issues which would be annoying in a daily driver, but aren't too bad on my towing/camping/running to the hardware store vehicle.

One of the issues is that the air system is shot. It has over 210,000 miles on it. The compressor kicks in every time I start the car, but does absolutely nothing. I am assuming that there are leaks in the line somewhere (more likely... everywhere), or that the air bags themselves are leaking, as they don't even inflate. When I got it, they had unplugged the air pump, probably because they were sick of it doing nothing noisily.


My back end squats low so badly that my two rear tires are wearing smooth on the inner half of the wheel. It was like that when I got it, and the wear pattern was clear, but I had assumed it needed an alignment, I didn't know about the air system at the time (I was buying an engine and transmission, I didn't care about the rest of the vehicle)


My question for all you wise and knowledgeable Armada and QX56 owners... do I fix it or delete it?

I tow regularly, and have never had a towing vehicle with an air system in it, so I'm not experienced in what it helps with. I have a load leveling trailer hitch on my RV already, since my Xterra technically was out of it's depth pulling it (5,000 pound capacity)

What I can't figure out from reading other posts (other than some vague insinuations here and there), is if my towing capacity will be affected significantly by swapping out for stiffer rear springs/shocks that don't require air.

Mine has the full tow package, including the 10,000 pound capacity tow hitch from Nissan, and currently (assuming all is working) my Armada has a rated tow capacity of 9,000 pounds.

It pulls my 5,500 pound RV like it's not even there, and I have never even felt a hint of the RV pulling me, even in windy conditions.

I would rather not drop $700 to $1,000 on a vehicle I spent $2,000 on, for a system I am not sure I care about. I would much rather pay the $400 to delete it if it doesn't serve enough of a function for what I do.

Parts are the only consideration, I do all my own stunts.


Thoughts?

Thanks in advance!!!
 

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Those who tow can offer more info, but it seems that is the big selling point for the air system.

As far as keeping or deleting, here's what I spent to keep it:

  • OEM Air Shocks/new bolts ~$250
  • OEM Air Lines ~ $70
  • OEM Compressor ~$300 (eBay)

The only other part which can/will go is the height adjuster which I have seen for ~$180 (seems to have gone up but haven't checked recently). Edit - I think there is also an expensive control module in the back. You can get a compressor cheaper but not sure if anyone makes the air shocks.

To delete, you would need new shocks (Bilstein), rubber isolators - I think (OEM) and springs (Moog). That would be much cheaper.

Those who deleted and tow often get helper air bags to prevent sagging.

With that said, if it was a $2k truck I would be tempted to go cheaper. Not only that, once you fix it you are done for many many miles.

I don't tow but needed to replace the shocks, which turned into replacing the air lines, then bought the compressor since mine was old but it looked like the relief valve was shot because it no longer loses air over night. If I could do it again I would probably delete. There have been a few times where I loaded the back where the air kicked in but other than that it is just when I was pointed up/down hills.
 

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I deleted my air and I tow (around 6.5k lbs) In my opinion, even when unloaded, the stiffer springs (with the Bilstein shocks) ride very nice! With a trailer hitched up they still hold pretty darn well. A weight distribution hitch takes care of the rest! If you've already been towing with a broken air system, I think you'll really like the stiffer springs! I also added some Firestone Coil Rite air bags inside the coil springs. I don't think you'd really need them but they are cheap and kind of fun if you want to tinker with them. So yes, in your case, Id vote for the air delete!
 
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Switching from old shocks and springs to new Bilsteins and new Nissan Springs front and back transformed my ride. Much stiffer, less body roll, bump steer and porpoising. Highly recommended. If you want to tow you can install the Firestone air bags in your springs which would allow you to tow lots of weight. Don't forget 2 inch spacers in the back to lift up the rear. Tons of great information here on this topic!
 
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The air ride is nice...Its great to be able to hitch up, and let the truck take care of the rest. If you use a load leveling hitch, then standard shocks and springs would be a better option as the hitch and the air suspension can end up causing issues with each other. If you don't want to use a load leveling hitch, you can get aftermarket air shocks cheaper than the oems, and make new lines for less than half the cost of the OEMs
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I decided to do the delete. Parts should be here tomorrow orr Friday. As I was spraying the bolts with WD-40 to prep for removal a few days from now, I found at least part of the problem.... Nothing a little duct tape can't fix, right? Maybe some JB Weld?
Automotive tire Leg Tread Synthetic rubber Tire
 

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Well there's your problem!

And if duct tape can't fix it, that just means you need more duct tape :)

Good plan on the replacement. From the looks of that shock not only is it not holding air but I bet the gas shock inside died years ago.

This will be a vast improvement in ride - please keep us posted!

One other thing, you may want to get a rust penetrating lube like PB Blaster. It will do a better job than WD40.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Just did the delete. Super easy. Probably the hardest part was remembering where all my tools were... Like my 100+ ft/pound torque wrench. (In the Armada, under the seats... of course...) I'll post before/after pictures tomorrow. It is several inches taller now hah. I'm 6'0", and I always had to duck a little under the rear hatch. Not anymore.

I'm also excited to feel the new ride quality, since I've only driven it with damaged shocks and basically no rear suspension.
 

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Great job! In retrospect, I wish I had gone this route rather than replacing basically the entire air system. Not that it isn't working, just always waiting for something to fail.

Funny you mention the lift gate height. I too am 6' tall and I can never seem to get the gate to go to full height (which is just enough for me not to hit my head). I replaced the struts on the lift gate and the window and the motor seems to be running fine but it stops about 2" - 3" short of full extension for some reason - happened since new.

Please post back impressions of the ride!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Look at that lift! (Or look how "stock" it actually is now, instead of a cheap version of a low-rider...)

I tried to get the photo from as much of the same angle/distance as before, but it may not be perfect.

I really wish I had taken a picture of the wheel wells, the wheel was almost touching the top before, not anymore.

Now to get stock sized tires back on it... did I mention the previous owner put undersized tires on it for some reason??? (Maybe they were short?)



Tire Wheel Car Automotive tail & brake light Land vehicle
 
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