: a "Level Ride" ordeal and some good information

06-08-06, 09:14 AM
My '89 suffered from rear suspension problems since I bought it last year. When parked, the car was sitting noticably low in the back end. As soon as someone got in the back, the car sagged a lot. With two or three people in the back, or anything of any weight in the trunk, the rear was nearly on the ground.

Because I don't drive the car a lot, and I didn't have a lot of money, I left it until this year to get the work done. My dad's a parts guy at Canadian Tire, and I work there as well. We got our guy to do the work, as he works on all our older / large vehicles.

Upon inspection, the Air Shocks were doing nothing at all, as they had huge holes in the side, and everything was on the springs, which weren't broken, but were very rusty and weak looking.

At first we thought we would just disconnect the "Level Ride" system/compressor, and put some normal gas charged shocks on the car. Those would be accompanied by springs meant for a non-air shock car. This would be cheaper, and less complicated.

However, we soon found some problems that you should all look out for. The springs for these cars are quite long, and others that you would think would work, don't. We tried a nice quality set of Variable Rate springs off of a Caprice wagon, and even a listing for an early 80s Deville with 5.7L Diesel. These's weren't variable rate, but were heavy duty. We figured that incase the caprice variable rate ones would not fit, the HD's would be a garunteed fit even if the HD ride was a little harsher.

The caprice springs were too short, and so were the Cadillac HD's. After more searching, we could not find a set of springs that were long and thick enough, to make up for the absense of the massive air shocks, without sacrificing a considerable amount of ride height. It should also be noted, the massive veriation in parts numbers for springs throughout different years, and full size GM vehicles is overwhelming, although sometimes the same numbers appear again and again when browsing the listings of different cars.

We ended up ordering the original springs for the '89, and a set of air shocks from NAPA.

These shocks are a sort that come with an adapter kit w/ lines etc. I guess they don't make the GM ones any more, so many people are doing this. Our mechanic has put these on many other Cads, especially Taxi driver's cars, which see a lot of use out of the back seat. I guess these shocks are manufactured with these cars in mind.

Anyway, everything seems to have worked great. The ride height has been restored, the feel of the ride is sensational (no more saggy rear end), and if something ever does fail with the level ride compressor, the shocks can be filled manually by a valve on the side. I think it was the best way to fix the car. Measurments taken before, and after show a 2 and a half inch increase in space between the ground and the fender trim.

Costs: Highjacker Air Shock (Pair) from NAPA = $198.62
Adapter Kit (NAPA) = $16.04
Rear Springs = $98.29

Remember, those prices are Canadian, and the labour hasn't been added yet. Because the mechanic is our co-worker and friend, it will be a little less than what it should, but I'll post that once he tells me the charge. I hope this helps some of you out if you're looking to fix that sagging rear. It is possible! Any thoughts or comparable experiences? These cars are heavy in the back and I know a lot need rear suspension work after a while.

Pictures to follow!

06-08-06, 09:48 AM




old springs

06-08-06, 10:06 AM
Thank you for the excellent information and pictures.

Alot of people are plagued with this problem with GMs. With my Custom Cruiser I threw in a pair of gas shocks, cost $30.00 US. But as you say the rear end was still low. But I'm Trailer Trash so that's OK around here.

With my Caddy I'm inclined to do it right. Even though there's plenty of Hillbillies in old Fleetwoods.

06-08-06, 12:11 PM
Hi there,

on my 92 brougham 5.7, I changed both air shocks and put in new ac delco original air ahocks (they look like yours, but with a ac delco sticker).....I disconnected the compressor in front and took oput the level ride light from my dash........that compressor makes lots of annoying noises very often........and the light was going on and off every 2 mins!!!!

anyways, i put in a air valve.so i can manually jack up the back, or drop it......less complicated....i drilled a hole and screwed in the air valve behind the licsence plate..... on the car near the gas cap......the liscence plate hides it.....so if i ever need to jack it up, or drop it, i put down my license plate like im gonna fill gas, unscrew the air valve plastic cover (like car tires), and put air, or take air out.............easy

06-09-06, 01:23 PM
Can you share the NAPA part numbers with us?


06-09-06, 09:38 PM
92 CadBro

That's the right idea. I've thought of doing that myself until I get the comp. wiring fixed. Of course, then I would never get the wiring fixed.

06-10-06, 11:53 AM

don't bother fixing anything with the level ride system...i think it's a waste of time and money.....do the manual way, u won't regret it......just keep the air shocks........