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First Post: Air Compressor/Dryer DIY Fix

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Old 10-19-2017, 11:51 PM
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Default First Post: Air Compressor/Dryer DIY Fix

First post from a LR3 owner in San Fran. Love the car. Extremely reliable except for two things that I knew I would eventually have to replace: the lower control arms and the air compressor. The control arms are on my list to fix and the compressor just started throwing the "Normal Ride Height" fault a few weeks ago. My Indy wanted $1500 to replace so I took the plunge and rebuilt it myself. I wanted to share the highs, lows and important lessons from experience since this forum was so helpful in my research.

1. Removing the Compressor.




This isn't a hard job...but it is frustrating, particularly when you make sloppy mistakes and dont follow the instructions ;-) More on that later.

I first unplugged the battery and then took the 3 bolts off the compressor cover. The middle one sheered off but its not really needed.

The bottom 2 bolts on the compressor bracket are easy. The 3rd bolt was really the only challenging part. It took me 4-5 tries, some bloody knuckles snaking my hand up over the compressor, and a long socket extension + universal joint. It was much easier to snake the extension up without the universal joint flopping around but I couldn't get the socket to hold the bolt at that angle so the universal joint is definitely required. I think a wobble extension might have worked even better but I didn't have one.

The air lines were pretty simple to pull off after I sprayed some penetrating oil on them. The published trick was just to use an open spanned to push the end cap in while you pulled on the tube.

I had the compressor out in under 2hrs. Note: By round 4 I was able to get the compressor off in 20 mins and install it again in < 10mins. Once you get the hang of it its pretty easy.

2. Rebuilding the Compressor
Replacing the exhaust valve spring and plastic float
The desiccant was white and crusted together. I had to break it up with a screw driver to get out.


This was also straightforward...however I did make some sloppy mistakes which cost me in the end. I purchased the X8R compressor and dryer rebuild kit for $50 as well as the JPO500010 exhaust valve rebuild kit for $30. I followed the rebuild videos from X8R and their instructables.com guides.

Based on my experience I dont think the JP0500010 exhaust rebuild kit was necessary but I did it anyway. Besides the exhaust value I also replaced the o-rings for the large air lines connectors on the back of the compressor (one had a tear in it), replaced the piston ring and related gaskets, replaced the o-ring connecting the dryer to the compressor, and replaced the dryer desiccant and filters. The dryer desiccant had definitely gone bad. It was white, crusted together and lots of white dust. Except for the o-ring tear and dryer desiccant, all other parts looked ok but I rebuild them anyway.

This took me about 2hrs.

3. The Screw Up - Part 1

I was feeling pretty good about myself as I was reinstalling the compressor. I connected the battery, started her up and imediately heard a god awful noise from the compressor. I had visions of the car being stuck in the driveway for a week while I ordered a new compressor.

I could hear the noise was coming from the piston arm and thought it must have broken off. I pulled the compressor off the truck again and opened it up to find everything still intact but the torx screw had somehow fallen off. I must have kinked it when screwing it back on somehow.

I fixed it and reinstalled...again. 1hr

4. The Screw Up - Part 2

I started the car up on my second attempt and everything initially seemed to be working. I didn't get a fault but the compressor seemed to be running for a much longer time than before. I pressed suspension up/down a few times and got a "slow rise warning" and the front of the car was taking a very long time to rise.

I started to think I screwed something up again in the rebuild as I wasn't having these symptoms previously. So I took it off again, tore it down...and found I had installed the metal gasket at the top of the piston housing upside down. Ouch.

1hr

5. The Screw Up - Part 3

I reinstalled for the 3rd time, started up the car and all seemed to be working. No faults but the compressor seemed like it was still running longer than before. I checked it again in the morning and it seemed ok but after 15 minutes of driving my wife came home and said the same "normal access height" warning came back on. Ouch. Back to where it all began.

At this time I suspected I had a leak in the compressor. My first thought was in my initial rush I hadn't scraped the old silicone sealant off the piston housing and put more on. So off the hardware store I went...

After 1hr I had the compressor back on again and was sure this time would do it.

6. Discovering the Real Problem - A Hairline Crack in the Dryer Cap


I started the car back up again and to my horror I got the same long compressor run and "normal ride height" fault. I was pissed but I knew I was narrowing in on the problem. Through elimination I had pretty much ruled everything out except a leak in the air lines. The guys at X8R also said thats what it sounded like to them.

I put my hands next to air lines and low and behold I felt air blowing out of the blue exhaust line connected to the dryer. I sprayed some soapy water on it and saw bubbles coming from a hairline crack between the two ports. I was excited to finally found the problem but pissed I didn't do this step first.

7. The Dryer Cap Fix

After some googling it looks like this is a common problem with the compressor. There was a manufacturing flaw where the plastic between the two exhaust nipples can crack. X84 has a metal replacement cap for $30 but it was going to take a week to ship so I googled some more and found people had luck epoxying the crack. So off the compressor went again.

I unscrewed the dryer cap and was able to see the crack on the front and back of the cap. I didn't have epoxy so figured I would take a stab at fixing it with some super glue. 10mins later I was good to go. I reinstalled the compressor and no more faults, no more slow rise, no more long compressor runs.

8. Conclusions

While it would have saved me 6+hrs if I had just bought a new compressor, im glad I stuck it out and learned to rebuild it. The new compressor would have failed too in a couple years. I now know everything about the compressor and can quickly rebuild it again if any new problems arise. To me thats a far more reliable solution.
 

Last edited by thebruce; 10-23-2017 at 11:06 PM.
The following 4 users liked this post by thebruce:
Captain Sygo (11-01-2017), DavC (12-04-2017), houm_wa (10-23-2017), squish (10-23-2017)
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Old 10-23-2017, 04:50 PM
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Excellent post! I will soon be searching for a solution for a suspesion fault I’ve been getting on our LR3. Is the cap a good first place to look?
 
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Old 10-23-2017, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by squish View Post
Excellent post! I will soon be searching for a solution for a suspesion fault Iíve been getting on our LR3. Is the cap a good first place to look?
Thx! Yes, I would spray some soapy water on the dryer end cap and the larger air hoses on the other side while the compressor is running to see if you can spot any leaks. Prior to that my indy had already narrowed the problem down to the compressor based on the the fault codes he saw in the ECU. So I knew I was in the right area.
 
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Old 10-23-2017, 06:21 PM
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Also a quick update. My super glue fix on the dryer cap only lasted a few days. I figured it wouldn't last long so I ordered a new metal dryer cap from X8R for $35 from Amazon. I will post results once I get that installed.
 
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Old 10-23-2017, 08:09 PM
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Thanx for the informative and honest report... it's not how you start but how you finish. Good on ya for having the patience to stick with it.
 
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Old 10-23-2017, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by EastCoast View Post
Thanx for the informative and honest report... it's not how you start but how you finish. Good on ya for having the patience to stick with it.
Ha thx! And I had some war wounds to prove it.
 
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Old 10-24-2017, 09:09 AM
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Thanks for posting this, very helpful. I had no idea the cap was prone to cracking. I too would have probably thrown in the towel after the 3rd reinstall.

I'll probably need to do this soon, I've noticed my compressor has gotten louder over the past 2 years. So you didn't have to cut the large air lines out of the connectors on the rear? Seems like a lot of folks have difficulty there and end up cutting them and figuring out another way to reconnect.

Just a warning, those desiccant beads are apparently carcinogenic, so try not to breathe any of the dust (probably a little late now).
 
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Old 10-24-2017, 10:21 AM
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Thx @dkkronik57

I had no idea the cap was prone to cracking.
Nor did I. I first thought the fitting on the blue exhaust line was leaking. I could feel the air with my finger and assumed the problem was with the o-ring. After some googling I found a long post in the UK forums about the cracked cap. I never understood why X8R had some kits with the end cap and others didn't. They didn't document this mode of failure in their instructions.

So you didn't have to cut the large air lines out of the connectors on the rear? Seems like a lot of folks have difficulty there and end up cutting them and figuring out another way to reconnect.
No mine were fine. I sprayed penetrating oil on them when I first started so they had a good hour or so to soak. Very little issue except getting the hang of pressing and pulling at the same time. The larger lines in the rear were a bit harder. My indy told me to take the compressor off before pulling those so you can use gravity to assist.

My suspicion is the people that had problems let their compressor go way too long and it overheated and melted the lines. During my 2nd and 3rd attempts my compressor was running for a long time and I could feel how hot the rear of the compressor where those lines connect was getting.

My other suspicion is the compressor likely starts leaking first due to the dryer cap or one of the o-rings going bad. Then it starts running longer which causes additional failures like the piston gasket going bad and lines fusing. If you repair it early you might save yourself some extra work.

Just a warning, those desiccant beads are apparently carcinogenic, so try not to breathe any of the dust
Ouch. There were guys recommending to just bake the beads to recharge them. Glad I didn't do that. X8R really should put a warning on their kits about this.
 
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Old 10-24-2017, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by thebruce View Post
Ouch. There were guys recommending to just bake the beads to recharge them. Glad I didn't do that. X8R really should put a warning on their kits about this.
Only really applies if you are chipping out the old beads, creating dust and breathing it in. Or I guess if you eat them. The cobalt compound is a "possible human carcinogen, confirmed in animals." You can bake them if they aren't too far gone, but it's probably easier/safer to just get new ones.
 
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Old 11-01-2017, 04:42 AM
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Quick update: I pulled off the dryer cap and could see my super glue fix did not hold. It had a hairline crack in the glue. (Side note: I thought super glue melted plastic back together but maybe I didn't have the right kind? If you really want to try to fix it this way you likely need epoxy and/or try to melt the plastic with a soldering iron).

Alternately you can just fix it right and buy a new end cap. I got a new metal cap from X8R. That solved the problem. Im hopeful that concludes this chapter for at least the next 2 years. At that time I will just buy a new compressor.
 

Last edited by thebruce; 11-01-2017 at 09:39 AM.

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