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Shocks & Struts for 1989 SdV


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I believe that the ones on the car are original. Even though it has just under 97K miles, after 25 years it's time to replace (even at way less than 25 years).

The Service Parts Identification sticker on top of the spare tire cover notes my car came with option FE1, SUSPENSION SYSTEM, SOFT RIDE. I would not mind firming up the ride somewhat as part of this replacement. I have already done this sort of thing on another car when I changed out the OEM shocks for a set of KYBs that were a bit firmer.

I am wondering:

1. What have different people gone with, both front and rear?

2. How did it change (or not change) the ride and/or handling?

3. Of what is currently available, which options most closely match OEM, which are firmer (and how much firmer)?

Thanks in advance for your input.

Brian

P.S. Under what conditions should I get the "Car is Leveling" message on the information center? I have had adult passengers in the back seat but this did not trigger the message (and I'm not quite sure where it would pop up - the owner's manual isn't all that clear about the respective locations of the various messages. I've never seen any pop up, even at start-up, on the left information center panel below the main dashboard.)

Brian

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The CAR IS LEVELING light may have been deleted - even though the spot may be there on the dash. I had a Buick Park Avenue that had the leveling system but no CAR IS LEVELING light even though I could see it if I shined the dash with a flashlight. Does the compressor run when you turn the ignition to ON and sit on the rear bumper?

That said, my 1993 Fleetwood Brougham has a green LEVEL RIDE light that comes on when the compressor runs. It seemed that GM decided to delete the light on the front wheel drive cars after the dash plastic was tooled up.

Kevin
'93 Fleetwood Brougham
'05 Deville
'04 Deville
2013 Silverado Z71

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The CAR IS LEVELING light may have been deleted - even though the spot may be there on the dash

I'm simply going on the content in the Owner's Manual. I've got to dig into the Service Information Manual to see what it's got to say as well.

Brian

Brian

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The CAR IS LEVELING light may have been deleted - even though the spot may be there on the dash

I'm simply going on the content in the Owner's Manual. I've got to dig into the Service Information Manual to see what it's got to say as well.

Brian

My 1986 Buick Park Avenue owner's manual showed the "CAR IS LEVELING" light but the light never came on - the level control system worked fine. There was no bulb in the dash so I installed one and it still did not light. I asked the Buick dealer about ot and they told me it was deleted. That may be the case with your car as well.

Kevin
'93 Fleetwood Brougham
'05 Deville
'04 Deville
2013 Silverado Z71

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Now on to a related question: Where is the air compressor (for lack of a better term) located for the leveling system?

I've looked in the Service Information Manual but it doesn't give any component location information on this. I really need to make certain that this part of the system is working, then check the lines, before putting in new rear shocks.

Any advice on that whole process would be appreciated as well. I hate being in "constant question mode" regarding this car, but I haven't owned it even three full months yet so I don't have much in the way of answers I can give on anything.

Brian

Brian

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Someone with a 1989 FSM or other aftermarket manual that covers the 1989 Cadillacs in detail would be needed to answer your question with authority. I can say that in most late model cars the leveling compressor is under the car toward the rear, just in front of the rear axle. If there is room, it is in the transmission hump area, which is desirable because it puts the pump and the exhaust solenoid equidistant from the rear shocks. In some models where there is not enough room in the center it is off to one side, but still just in front of the rear axle.

The simplest way to tell is to put your car on a lift and follow the hoses from the rear shocks.

CTS-V_LateralGs_6-2018_tiny.jpg
-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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  • 1 month later...

The last several months have been jam-packed with activity, unfortunately not including replacing the shocks yet, but it's getting close.

The car has just short of 98K on it and as I've driven it more it really seems to me that the front struts are probably OK but the rear shocks are shot. This leads to two follow-up questions:

1. Is the air-leveling system for the rear shocks strictly for that purpose? I am presuming that this is not a part of the damping feature of the shock, but is strictly for leveling.

2. Is it likely that my thesis regarding intact front struts with spent rear shocks is valid? Others know these cars far better than I and know whether the aging of these two suspension elements is more differential or simultaneous.

Brian

Brian

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I would replace all four at the same time. Even if the front seems to damp better than the rear, if you get new rear shocks you will immediately see a lack of damping in the front, by comparison.

I just looked on Rock Auto and struts and shocks for your car are quite inexpensive. Rear, with air bag for automatic leveling system, are $30 to $40 each. Front struts are about the same, more if you buy the assembly with the springs and strut mounts as an assembly.

CTS-V_LateralGs_6-2018_tiny.jpg
-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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Jim,

Thanks for your input. Today I finally got the car up on a lift myself for the first time and was able to get a thorough look underneath.

It's very clear that new shocks and struts both are needed. All appear to be original.

After reading the factory service manual in greater detail it's also clear that the electronic leveling control operates as an independent entity from the damping provided by the shocks. The bladders that envelope the top of the shocks on both sides are definitely dry rotted and would not hold pressure under any circumstance at this point. I still don't know if the compressor works (by the way, it's in the engine compartment on the left side near the bottom) and the system is set up to have the compressor turn off after a few seconds if a base pressure is not reached in the system.

While the shocks and struts are "definites" at this juncture, I am wondering if it's even worth trying to replace the air bladders for the ELC. I almost never have passengers in the rear seat and/or a fully loaded trunk. I just don't know how worthwhile/vital this system is since it appears to have been an option (according to the service manual, anyway).

What do those who have '89-'93 de Ville variants have to say about the ELC and whether it's worth trying to revive it?

Brian

Brian

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What do those who have '89-'93 de Ville variants have to say about the ELC and whether it's worth trying to revive it?

Brian

If it were my car, I would maintain the level control system. The shocks are integral - you can't replace the bladders and the shocks must pump up slightly to provide a good ride. Monroe should have a direct replacement for the OE shocks.

Kevin
'93 Fleetwood Brougham
'05 Deville
'04 Deville
2013 Silverado Z71

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Kevin,

I need to take a look again, but it seemed that there was a rubber sleeve that surrounds the tube into which the upper end of the strut inserts. This rubber sleeve may be akin to an oversized "O-ring" that keeps the strut centered in the upper tube into which it fits. If those aren't really a central feature I'd imagine that the part that's up inside the tube has not been subject to either road crud or much oxygen and is probably still much softer and more pliable than the edges one can touch that stick out. I still haven't been able to ID what these are based on the exploded parts diagrams and the key to same on gmpartsgiant.com.

I certainly intend to buy the rear struts/shocks that have the connection port for the air line. I'm actually surprised at how tiny those air lines are. When I first encountered them I thought they were electrical wires for some sensing component of the system. I was pointed to the Monroe versions earlier on this thread and so far it appears that the eBay seller for these has the best price.

The actual functioning of this system is remarkably like the one on the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow (and all its derivatives). It's pneumatic as opposed to hydraulic, and the height control sensor is electro-mechanical, but the basics of what it's supposed to do, when, and why is the same.

Brian

Brian

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Bri the Tech Guy   http://britechguy.com
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Well, after doing quite a bit of research I think I'm going to replace the rear struts with Gabriel G56906 struts as opposed to the Monroe 71798 struts.

Way back on March 22nd, barczy06 suggested these front strut assemblies on eBay, which the same company also sells on their own website for $67 more and charge shipping. The strut brand is Unity Automotive and the seller is Complete Struts. Does anyone have any input regarding Unity Automotive strut assemblies, Complete Struts, or both? I've generally had good experiences with eBay sellers who have very high percentages of positive ratings (99.7% in this case), but it never hurts to solicit information regarding the experiences of others.

Brian

Brian

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Bri the Tech Guy   http://britechguy.com
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Kevin,

I need to take a look again, but it seemed that there was a rubber sleeve that surrounds the tube into which the upper end of the strut inserts. This rubber sleeve may be akin to an oversized "O-ring" that keeps the strut centered in the upper tube into which it fits. If those aren't really a central feature I'd imagine that the part that's up inside the tube has not been subject to either road crud or much oxygen and is probably still much softer and more pliable than the edges one can touch that stick out. I still haven't been able to ID what these are based on the exploded parts diagrams and the key to same on gmpartsgiant.com.

I certainly intend to buy the rear struts/shocks that have the connection port for the air line. I'm actually surprised at how tiny those air lines are. When I first encountered them I thought they were electrical wires for some sensing component of the system. I was pointed to the Monroe versions earlier on this thread and so far it appears that the eBay seller for these has the best price.

The actual functioning of this system is remarkably like the one on the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow (and all its derivatives). It's pneumatic as opposed to hydraulic, and the height control sensor is electro-mechanical, but the basics of what it's supposed to do, when, and why is the same.

Brian

It sounds like you're referring to the shock mount.

Well, after doing quite a bit of research I think I'm going to replace the rear struts with Gabriel G56906 struts as opposed to the Monroe 71798 struts.

Way back on March 22nd, barczy06 suggested these front strut assemblies on eBay, which the same company also sells on their own website for $67 more and charge shipping. The strut brand is Unity Automotive and the seller is Complete Struts. Does anyone have any input regarding Unity Automotive strut assemblies, Complete Struts, or both? I've generally had good experiences with eBay sellers who have very high percentages of positive ratings (99.7% in this case), but it never hurts to solicit information regarding the experiences of others.

Brian

I don't think you can go wrong with either Gabriel or Monroe shocks.

I've never heard of Unity Automotive - could be some brand from China - It wouldn't hurt to ask the seller what the country of origin is.

Kevin
'93 Fleetwood Brougham
'05 Deville
'04 Deville
2013 Silverado Z71

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Kevin,

I've e-mailed Unity Automotive to request country of origin information. They're based out of Boynton Beach, FL, but that tells me nothing about where their component parts are sourced from. I will report back on what they tell me here.

If the struts are from China, though, that doesn't necessarily tell me all that much. When I was a child, "Made in Japan," meant low quality, and everyone knows how that's changed. Hyundai used to be an automotive joke and now is a world powerhouse, and a great many of China's manufacturing facilities are putting out high-quality products that get marketed under many well-known trade names not associated with China. It's fun to look at the actual countries of origin on the range of Bosch products, and it certainly isn't limited to Germany any longer.

These days any brand you can name might make any given item marketed under their name virtually anywhere on the surface of this earth!!

Brian

Brian

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Reply in from Unity Automotive Products: strut country of origin is China.

Now for more research to see what people are saying about them, as Unity is not a new player on this particular field.

Brian

Brian

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Bri the Tech Guy   http://britechguy.com
britechguy@gmail.com   (540) 324-5032
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  • 1 month later...

Now that it appears that the ELC system is working the time has come to actually install the new front strut assemblies and the air bladder shocks in the rear.

I know that you must have a 4-wheel alignment done after this job.

My question is how difficult is the job itself if you have access to a lift, which I do? I have the complete front strut assemblies, so there will be no spring compression aspect at all. While I do a lot of my own work I also know that there are certain things "best left to the professionals" and I have a shop I trust that gave me an estimate of between $500 and $600 to install all four and do the 4-wheel alignment.

Brian

Edited by guyslp

Brian

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Bri the Tech Guy   http://britechguy.com
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You do not need an alignment when replacing the rear shocks - only the front struts. You could "rent" (borrow) the spring compressors from AutoZone (or any local parts store) and do the job yourself. It is not difficult but you need to weigh the cost of hiring the job out to what you could do it yourself. Me, I never hire anything out as I can buy any/all special tools and do the job my self for considerably less vs. paying someone to do the job.

Kevin
'93 Fleetwood Brougham
'05 Deville
'04 Deville
2013 Silverado Z71

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, after getting an quote from one of my local "Pop and Son" shops of, "I'll put 'em all in for $150," I said "sold."

Picked the car up this afternoon and the rear end is now leveling exactly as designed. She's now parked since the only shop I trust to do alignments can't take her in for that until Monday.

I ended up going with the Unity struts, which are manufactured in China. The shocks are Gabriels. I will report back if there are any issues, particularly any early failures.

Brian

Edited by guyslp

Brian

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Bri the Tech Guy   http://britechguy.com
britechguy@gmail.com   (540) 324-5032
"If it's got you screaming, I'll help you stop!!"
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  • 3 months later...

Just a quick comment after 4 months regarding the Unity struts: So far, so good. My suspicion is that these provide a somewhat firmer ride than the originals in my car did when new, since I don't have a ride I'd consider to be as plush as the FE1 "SUSPENSION SYSTEM, SOFT RIDE" would have offered. Of course, I don't have anything to compare it against since the OEM struts were well past their expiration date by the time they were replaced.

The Gabriel rear shocks are working perfectly and keeping the car quite level. I still haven't chased down the slow leak in the system, but I had to inflate and deflate the replacement shocks by hand a number of times before installation and I don't think they're leaking at all.

Brian

Brian

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Bri the Tech Guy   http://britechguy.com
britechguy@gmail.com   (540) 324-5032
"If it's got you screaming, I'll help you stop!!"
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