No matter what type ofvehicle you drive, if it has Air Suspension, it WILL be affected by Cold weather one day.....especially when the vehicle gets older!
How does the cold affect a car that brand new costed $70k? Depending on the design & type of the system, some problems are caused by deteriorated parts. An air suspension equipped vehicle utilizes a rubber air bladder and in the automotive field is called a "Rolling Lobe" type. In time, the rubber air bladder will develop cracks because of dry rot, on "the fold of the rubber", mainly on the area where the rubber has been folded over most of it's life.
The picture below shows a typical rubber air bladder used on an air strut or air spring. Notice the cracks of the rubber, where the rubber folds around. While most people assume an air bladder is the same thickness as a tire, in reality, most rubber air bladders used in automotive air suspension systems are only 2mm thick! Being that most air bladders last 7-10 years before they start leaking, that's actually pretty good service considering what it deals with in it's lifetime. Ask yourself this....how many things do you know of, can endure this type of punishment and survive 7-10 years? Remember, these air bladders are under the car 24/7...365....in a "hostile environment so to speak. They never get cleaned, never get any type of conditioner on them. To last that long is a testimony of how high-tech a rubber it really is.
Another problem is in the design of the system. When Ford 1st started with air suspension back in 1984, those vehicles had a simple enclosed and "sealed for life" air spring. With this type of design, unless the rubber got power steering fluid on it or rubbed on something solid, you can bet it would last 10 years or more, depending on how much time the vehicle spent parked in a garage. During it's lifetime, if the solenoids were never removed -OR- they were removed and were resealed(small o-rings) before being installed, weather really didn't have much of an effect on that general design. This is because each end of the rubber air bladder was permanently sealed to it's plastic or metal base, using a metal crimp ring and at least a $25,000 crimping machine. The downside was the replacement cost of the unit. In the case of the front air struts on the Lincoln Mark VIII or the front struts of the 1988-1994 Lincoln Continental, the replacement cost was high. But, if you factor in the lifespan of each design, the old "sealed for life" design gives you way more bang for the buck because of it's darn near bullet-proof design.
The design they use most of the time now(like on the Navigator & Expeditions) is an air spring with a plastic base on both ends. It has a hollow middle and it slides over and onto a metal strut......sealed only by a couple big o-rings. In cold weather, the metal on the strut contracts more than the plastic of the air spring base.....which results in a leak where the o-rings are suppose to seal. With this design, quality replacement air springs are a MUST! Even if you did replace the air springs with the Best Quality New Ford O.E.M. air springs, with this design your still not guaranteed a leak-free system....especially in cold weather. The reason is tolerances. All it takes is a single replacement air spring base to be .001 too big......and you have an almost guaranteed winter-time leak. This is the whole reason why we won't sell any aftermarket air springs for this type of design. If there's one thing the Chinese ARE NOT known for....it's quality control. In my experience, if you acquire 4 Chinese replacement air springs, you may get lucky and have 1 the absolute right size, which will seal correctly. The others leak all the time.....and some won't leak.....they pour when the temperature drops!
In my professional opinion, I recommend converting to a conventional coil spring suspension once the vehicle gets over 7-10 years old. If not, make sure to keep your "AAA" membership number on speed-dial!