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  #1  
Old 05-13-2019, 11:40 PM
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N00b with the dreaded "self-level susp inactive" warning...

Hello all. Somewhat unexpectedly I got myself a 2003 E53 4.4i last fall. I will spare the details of that for the introduction thread. I have since been lurking on this forum, observing, listening, searching, and learning. Unfortunately I have finally reached a point where I must ask a question, and it is a subject that has been beat to death. My apologies. So here we go:


Last fall, I started getting the "self-level susp inactive" warning intermittently. Everything worked fine otherwise, and it would come and go, and I was busy with life and fixing other things, so I ignored it. Sometimes it would stay off for a week or two at a time. Then one day it came on and stayed on. Over the winter, the airbags slowly leaked down. This took months. I have now been riding on the bump stops for the past few weeks as I troubleshoot. The system is silent. Nothing has worked so far.



I believe I have tried all the easy/cheap things. I have unhooked the battery to try to reset the system. All 3 fuses are good. A visual inspection of all the components shows everything in good shape, clean, and in good repair. Earlier tonight I replaced both ride height sensors (one of them was original), no change. The air compressor is silent at all times.



So, am I missing anything? Is there something I need to do to reset the system, if replacing the ride height sensors solved the issue? I am at the point of just replacing the bags with springs for $120 and calling it a day. Any fix that is more expensive than that will not be done, for multiple reasons. Are there any more inexpensive things to check? Have I missed something silly? Any thoughts or pointers would be deeply appreciated. Thank you.
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Old 05-14-2019, 02:37 AM
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chuck it all out now & switch to proper shocks & springs, SLS is a rabbit hole and a never ending drain on your finances, likely to cost you more than the car over a long enough timeline. I'm up to around 6-7k, still getting faults & undriveable again as of 2 days ago... Ive have given up. switching to what I knew I should have done in the first place bilsteins & H&R
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Old 05-14-2019, 08:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragnarok View Post
I am at the point of just replacing the bags with springs for $120 and calling it a day. Any fix that is more expensive than that will not be done, for multiple reasons.
You're probably at the point of a pump or distribution unit. Both of those are more than $120.

After some intermittent errors when travelling with a load over the last 8 years, I've had more frequent errors off and on over the last year. After the pump replacement this Spring, all is well.
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Old 05-14-2019, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PropellerHead View Post

After some intermittent errors when travelling with a load over the last 8 years, I've had more frequent errors off and on over the last year. After the pump replacement this Spring, all is well.
I will make a note of that; I was hoping the intermittent nature of the error meant that it was something small wearing out(like a sticky/corroded ride height sensor), but I guess it could be anything...

Edit: I am finding things about ride height calibration. Is this something I need to do after replacing both height sensors? If so, maybe someone can post a link to a walk-through of that procedure?

Last edited by Ragnarok; 05-14-2019 at 09:29 AM.
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Old 05-17-2019, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragnarok View Post
I will make a note of that; I was hoping the intermittent nature of the error meant that it was something small wearing out(like a sticky/corroded ride height sensor), but I guess it could be anything...

Edit: I am finding things about ride height calibration. Is this something I need to do after replacing both height sensors? If so, maybe someone can post a link to a walk-through of that procedure?



You need to reset the system to get the compressor starting again, this can be done via Inpa, Carly f.BMW, etc. I cannot be reset via battery/fuse disconnect.


My guess is one of the bags has a small leak and the pump was working overtime to compensate for the difference. This eventually overheated the compressor and thus went into safety mode. Now, even if you find the leaking airbag and replace it you'd still need to rebuild the compressor (bagpipingandy kit on ebay) AND reset the system using a diagnostic tool.



First priority is to invest in a good diagnostic tool and take it from there.



Hope this helps.


PS. I converted mine to traditional suspension due to the endless and expensive issues with the air-suspension.
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Old 05-18-2019, 03:00 PM
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I have had 3 times, each time was a low battery....as after each warning and going back home and putting battery on charge the error vanished....
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Old 05-19-2019, 12:28 PM
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Sorry to jump into someone else's post, but for those of you who have swapped the air bags for conventional suspension, what did you guys buy? My ride is super bumpy to the point that my tires will screech and I now have the self leveling suspension inactive warning on.
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Old 06-07-2019, 03:36 PM
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I just wanted to finish up this thread and thank everyone for their input. I ended up just getting a basic set of springs and perches and swapping out the bags and leaving it at that.

Someday I will invest in the little black box that eliminates the air suspension inactive warning, but not today. I love this thing, but it's 16 years old with nearly a quarter million miles, and I'm not going to fix this issue, only to have the next weakest link break, and then the next, etc etc. When I get the time I will remove all the air components and sell them for what I can get.

Awntchi: I will keep an eye out for a diagnostic tool along the lines of what you suggest, although my budget is tight. Also, about the cause being a leaky airbag: while that is certainly possible (they look original), I doubt it, because after the system shut off it took literally 5 months for the bags to leak down. When I swapped in the springs one of them STILL had some air in it. If that slow of a leak is enough to burn out the compressor, then...damn.

Anybody want to buy a slightly used rear SLS setup? nonfunctional and only 230k miles! PM me!
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Old 11-03-2019, 12:30 PM
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Can this warning message be correlated to a very recently changed battery? Or what about the headlight leveling system/LCM module?
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Old 11-03-2019, 01:28 PM
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Perhaps I missed this in the thread, but do you

(a) have a readout on the specific error codes - Carly is one good tool to use
(b) know how old your air springs are? They have a limited life (rubber under pressure isn't eternal) and are VERY easy to replace (and quite affordable) - go to Arnott.
(c) similar for the ride height sensors (not an endemic item, but they can fail).
(d) pumps are more frequently a case of the seal (there is a guy who sells the replacement one on Ebay), often caused by an overrunning compressor - which is cause by a leaky air spring that isn't fixed soon enough.
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