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X5 E53 (1999 - 2006)
The X5 SAV Forum

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Old 10-30-2011, 04:26 PM
Autovilla Autovilla is offline
Registered User
Location: Round Lake IL
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 3
Mein Auto: 2002 X5 4.4
Lightbulb Self Level Suspension Inac mystery FIXED!

Let me start by saying I own a couple of used cars lots w/repair shops and have some experiance solving some of X5's little demons. I know that there are people having strange problems with their " Self Level Suspension Inac " warning light comming on from time to time.. Most people drive themselves crazy at the Dealer or repair shop trying to have if fixed to just have it come back on 2 days later. Well I have a possible solution that will cause this and is a " Do it yourself fix" without any cost for parts or expensive experts.. First let me get a couple of things out of the way..

1) If your X5 is hissing or leaking air... You need new air shocks.. They are cheap and easy to install. Here is where I have bought them and it worked out great.

2) If your X5 is hissing and you keep driving it you will overwork and kill your pump that pumps air into your air shocks. If its leaking then fix it right away.

3)You could have a blown fuse in the rear compartment, but it probally blew for a reason. If this happened to you its probally not the end of your problem...

I had a 2002 X5 4.4 that had an airshock blow. They are made of rubber similar to tires and will dryrot and get cracks. This eventually causes a leak. I replaced both of them (you can't do just one.. dont even try it or your asking for it). When you blow a shock your X5 will drop down and this is what creates the problem. The level sensor itself is attached to the body and has a rotating arm that is attached to another arm that attaches to your suspension (Trying to keep things in laymens terms). These arms rotate on what I like to call a nipple. This allows the joints comming from the sensor arm and the one attached to the suspension to move freely. Over time these become stiff and freeze in place. In My situation when the air shock blew and dropped down this caused my joints to freeze up at different heights on both sides. This promted a bad reading and caused the "Self level suspension" light to turn on. Alot of people would have replaced the sensors thinking that they had malfunctioned. I promise you that most shops wouldn't have noticed this until replaceing the parts and would never tell you that this was the problem...Not the sensors.

The first step in this simple fix is:

1) Remove rear tire.

2) Locate sensor next to air shock

3) Use 2 10mm wrenches to remove arm (# 4-10 in picture below) that attaches sensor arm to suspension

4) Once removed carefully pry nipple joint from arm ( It will snap out )

5) Clean and grease nipple and inner joint (I like to use Permatex Disc Brake Caliper Lube), but any axle type grease will do.

6) Snap nipple back onto joint and reinstall. Make sure Nipples face toward the rear of the X5 and arms are pointing towards the wheels on compleation.

7) Rinse and repeat for other side.

8) Remember that you need to go for a ride in order for the system to reset. About 2 miles should do the trick.

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This is an exploded view of your ride level sensors for both sides

I Hope this helps some of you solve your problem and saves you some cash!
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:04 AM
RachaelsX5 RachaelsX5 is offline
Registered User
Location: Austin TX
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 83
Mein Auto: X5 4.4i

So it will self calibrate? I thought a shop had to do that? If I don't have to take this to a shop and can do 100% on my own that would be ideal........
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Old 09-26-2012, 08:12 AM
mojamusic mojamusic is offline
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Location: sydney
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 3
Mein Auto: X5 4.6is
self level sups inact after new rear upper control arms

i had to replace the rear upper control arms because they were squeaking like an old pram. i bought them from taiwan for $100 and they fixed problem well. then the dreaded self level susp inapt error was coming up every time i started the car. i previously would get this error occasionally, especially after parking on a steep incline, but it would clear after turning car on/off. and the car always sits fine, the rear isn't raised or dropped, so i knew it was an issue with just the sensor, not the actual SLS. i thought this time the sensor was blown, or a fuse, or my mechanic bumped the sensor when installing the rear upper control arms. after reading this thread, we took the rear wheels off to find that the sensor nipple arms were pointing the wrong way on the rear right. the thread mentions to make sure the nipples face the rear and the folding arms point the wheel. the folding arms were pointing away from the wheel. this must have happened when the mechanic dropped the suspension to get at the upper control arms and the folding arms dropped down, then when he raised the suspension back, the arms folded the wrong way. we unscrewed the nipple and folded the arms to point toward the wheel, and screwed it back together. after a few kilometers the SLS inapt error disappeared . Then on restarting the car, the error was gone for good.
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Old 10-23-2012, 12:33 PM
benny224 benny224 is offline
Registered User
Location: Connecticut
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 25
Mein Auto: 2001 BMW X5
I got the same message and couldnt figure it out then I accidently while looking for a fuse that was out found that the fuse was blown. new fuse and I was back in the running
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Old 05-10-2015, 08:09 PM
ksaint ksaint is offline
Registered User
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 2
Mein Auto: BMW
self leveling inac

my self leveling inac light has been on, car operating normally. Now, front end is much lower than back, and the ride is bumpy. What should I do?
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Old 05-17-2015, 10:11 AM
Khalilur Rahman Khalilur Rahman is offline
Registered User
Location: Kuala Lumpur
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 2
Mein Auto: X5 4.6i
Self leveling inactive , E53

Hi, I have a X5, 4.6 iS, E53 with the Self Leveling inactive fault.
The rear suspension is low and the ride is very bumpy. I have checked fuse, relay and pump and they all seem to be OK.
I have replaced the Control Box, but problem still persist.
The pump is silent and when I manually activate the oump by powering the relay, the pump works but the suspension is still low.
Need help. Does anyone have a schematic on the system ?
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Old 05-18-2015, 03:53 AM
mojamusic mojamusic is offline
Registered User
Location: sydney
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 3
Mein Auto: X5 4.6is
Sounds like your rear air shock bags have gone. Hence the rough ride. What's the gap between the top of rear tyre and bottom wheel arch? Should be approx 10cm or 4". Mine kept deflating overnight then the pump would inflate them on start up. The air shocks aren't expensive anymore. About $400 a pair and my Indy installed for about $250. Replacing both rear air shocks also finally got rid of the Self Lvl Inact warning light which plagued my 4.6is for years.
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Old 08-07-2015, 05:29 AM
Johnbull Johnbull is offline
Registered User
Location: Lagos, Nigeria.
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 1
Mein Auto: X5 4.6is
I have problem of Self Level Suspension inactive BMW 4.6is. My mechanic said rear Suspension is Ok, But he advice i should change the balloon and sensor. where can i check before spending much to change suspension and sensor.
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Old 08-10-2015, 11:53 AM
chevymusclecar chevymusclecar is offline
Registered User
Location: Seattle
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 45
Mein Auto: '02 E66
I just have this message "self level inactive " and have this in inpa.

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Any idea on the mystery? Ride height seems fine, but I know my wife parked halfway on the curb last night.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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