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Old 03-28-2013, 06:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How I converted my LR3 from air to coil suspension.

I have started this thread to show anyone who is considering a air-to-coil swap on an LR3 a general overview of what is involved and my impressions on the swap it's self and the results.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive technical manual or installation guide. So if you manage to kill yourself or ruin your vehicle following my "advice", don't come crying to me.

So, our LR3, HSE suspension has been misbehaving of late and for a long time I have been interested in a coil conversion.
The main obstacle to any conversion of the LR3 is the terrain response system that is fitted to all air suspension vehicles. The system is so integrated into the other systems of the vehicle that warning lights and a inoperative Terrain Response was always the result.

Atlantic British has recently come out with a coil suspension kit for the LR3 that claims to eliminate the warning lights and allow the full use of the adaptive lighting and Terrain response system.

LR3 Coil Spring Conversion Kit | Land Rover Discovery 3 Suspension Kits

This is the kit I used. I ordered it and within a a few days (under a week) it arrived on my doorstep here in Alberta Canada. So far so good.

Then life happened......................and almost a year later I finally get round to installing the kit.

This is pretty much what comes in the kit.
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How I converted my LR3 from air to coil suspension.-dsc00523-640x480-.jpg   How I converted my LR3 from air to coil suspension.-dsc00524-640x480-.jpg   How I converted my LR3 from air to coil suspension.-dsc00526-640x480-.jpg   How I converted my LR3 from air to coil suspension.-dsc00530-640x480-.jpg  
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Old 03-28-2013, 06:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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How I converted my LR3 from air to coil suspension.-dsc00528-640x480-.jpgThe instructions that come with the kit are actually very good with detailed pictures and descriptions of the entire process......which was a nice (and unexpected) surprise. There were a few errors in the torque settings given though. Mostly in the conversion of NM to 'lbs. I used the NM values as I deemed them to be correct. It claims that the conversion can be completed in about four hours, we shall see?

The first operation is the obvious jack up the vehicle, set on jack stands and remove the wheels. Now, anyone that has ever tried to jack up a LR3 completely off the ground will be be aware of just how much down travel the air struts have. You really need to jack it up high to get all four wheels off the ground.

Once the wheels are out of the way you can get to the struts. I did the fronts first. Placing a floor jack under the strut I undid the lower bolt. You will need a breaker bar to bust it loose as it is on quite tight.
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Old 03-28-2013, 07:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Next I loosened the upper mounting nuts from the top of the strut. Two of these are very easy to get at, the third at the back, close to the engine is very difficult to get a wrench on.

I found that if you have a 15mm ratcheting, gear type box wrench it really helps, especially with the back nut. The right side is tighter clearance than the left.
The nuts on the upper strut fixings are of the stake-nut variety which means they are tight to take off almost the entire way along the threads so be prepared for a long fight.


Once I had them at the end of the threads I lowered the strut using the floor jack I had in place. I carefully lowered the strut until I could get the air line. I then S-L-O-W-L-Y loosened the airline and allowed the air to vent. Once the air had all escaped I completely removed the line. The upper strut mounting nut were then removed and the whole assembly was lowered (via the floor jack) and removed.

The instructions suggest that removal of the wheel well lining will improve access to the upper nuts but the only one I had trouble with was the rear most of the three and removal of the lining would not have helped with that so I left it in place. It also recommends removing the brake calipers but I found this also unnecessary as I managed to remove the old strut and install the new strut with it in place.
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How I converted my LR3 from air to coil suspension.-dsc00534-640x480-.jpg   How I converted my LR3 from air to coil suspension.-dsc00537-640x480-.jpg   How I converted my LR3 from air to coil suspension.-dsc00536-640x480-.jpg   How I converted my LR3 from air to coil suspension.-dsc00531-480x640-.jpg  
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Last edited by roverandom; 03-30-2013 at 12:10 AM.
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Old 03-28-2013, 07:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Got to cut this short for now. I will try to finish it tomorrow...
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Old 03-29-2013, 05:10 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Keep posting up your progress. This is awesome!! I was thinking of doing this but was concerned about the ride height and not being able to lift the truck up for larger tires..I would be interested in knowing if it is possible to change out the springs for more of a lift.. :-)
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Old 03-29-2013, 12:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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This is awesome !! I was thinking of doing this but wasn't to sure
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Old 03-29-2013, 07:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I maneuvered the strut into place without much trouble aside from it being significantly heavier than the air strut. Again, using a floor jack helps take the weight while you get everything lined up.
After I had the front struts all bolted up the instructions call for the lower bolt to be torqued to 200NM (this is where the conversion discrepancy to ft/lbs lies. I used the NM figure) and that is easy enough to accomplish with a regular torque wrench.
The top nuts however have a torque figure of 70NM and there just wasn't enough clearance to get even a inch/lbs wrench in there so I had to use the short-wrench-arm-strong method.

I then refitted the front wheels and was pleasantly surprised to find the exact same amount of down travel as the air struts.
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How I converted my LR3 from air to coil suspension.-dsc00532-640x480-.jpg   How I converted my LR3 from air to coil suspension.-dsc00540-640x480-.jpg   How I converted my LR3 from air to coil suspension.-dsc00535-640x480-.jpg  
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Old 03-29-2013, 07:37 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The rear is pretty much the same as the fronts except the new struts are even heavier and there is more room to get at the upper nuts.

When I refitted the rear wheels however I was disappointed to find that down travel was reduced by a couple of inches. The pictures with wheel shows the new position of the rear tyres. I did not take a picture before hand but with EAS and the vehicle on jack stands the tyres were just touching the floor, with the coils fitted you can see they sit 2" above the floor.

I also found that the outer air strut casing and rear inner CV boot was torn/damaged so I had an extra job (CV boot) to do.......and that is a whole different story, what a PITA!
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How I converted my LR3 from air to coil suspension.-dsc00541-640x480-.jpg   How I converted my LR3 from air to coil suspension.-dsc00542-640x480-.jpg   How I converted my LR3 from air to coil suspension.-dsc00539-480x640-.jpg   How I converted my LR3 from air to coil suspension.-dsc00543-640x480-.jpg  
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Old 03-29-2013, 09:21 PM   #9 (permalink)
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So that's the oily bits taken care of. Next up is the electrickery.

The heart of the conversion is the "magic" orange box that allows the continued use of terrain response and adaptive lighting while disabling the EAS.

It is possible to do this one of two ways. You can just plug the "magic" orange box into the OBDII connector and press and hold the button on the side and then remove it.....job done. This does however leave you with a rather annoying red warning light on the dash. Seeing as the LR3 already manages to generate far too many warning Chimes, bongs, lights and error messages on it's own accord I didn't want to deliberately add another if at all possible.

So I opted for the second choice which involves some minor interior disassembly and some wiring modifications that requires the "magic" orange box to be permanently wired into the vehicle but will result in no warning lights+ continued use of the TR and adaptive lighting.

I first removed the drivers foot rest, bonnet (hood) release handle (Torx#20) and kick panel.
Then off came the knee bolster and lower dash trim panel.
Now you can get at the EAS module that is located high up under the dash on the left of the bulkhead. A easy one bolt fixing is removed and the module can be lifted up and away.
Being careful not to damage the wiring harness the module can be moved down to level where you can more easily see and work on it. Once in this position the wiring modifications can be made.

You need to be very careful to identify, cut and splice the correct wires at this stage but again the kit's instructions are very clear and easy to follow with lots of high quality, colour photos of exactly what you need to do along with a detailed written description. If you can read, count and are not colour blind, you can do it. It is easy.

In essence all you are doing is re-routing the 'data' wires to go through the "magic" orange box and hooking up a power and ground via the supplied pigtail harness. Once this is done the EAS module is re-installed and the "magic" orange box is then permanently installed beside it under the dash. Press the button and the job is done, after putting back all the panels of course.

The "magic" orange box will now intercept and clear all the error codes that would turn the red EAS warning light on.

It is worth noting that each "magic" orange box, once used is permanently coded to that vehicle. This means that although this conversion is entirely reversible and the air struts and EAS module operation can be re-installed and put back to factory settings the "magic" orange box cannot be used on another vehicle.
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Old 03-29-2013, 10:01 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Now for my impressions after the install. I will start with an honest representation the negative aspects I have encountered so far. I will not list the obvious points such as "can't raise the ride height any more" or "no self leveling when loaded or towing" because....well that's obvious isn't it?


First, and most important, the LR3 is now sitting at least an inch lower than it did with the EAS at the 'Normal' setting. This was a bit of a unpleasant surprise because when I ordered the kit I specifically asked the Atlantic British customer service representative at what height the vehicle would be. I was informed that the vehicle height would be set at the same level as the EAS 'Normal' level.

I have sent an Email to AB outlining this issue (Thursday evening) so I hope to hear back from them within the following week. I will keep you posted.

The reduced 'Normal' ride height is about the only serious complaint I have to offer about this kit although there are a few minor things that I have noticed or I failed to consider before deciding on the conversion.

Case in point, I live in the country and we drive on a dirt road every day so the LR3 is usually gets very dirty whenever it rains/snows. When I wash the vehicle I liked to raise the suspension up to the max off road setting to better clean the wheel wells. Can't do that now obviously. I didn't really think it would be a big deal but along with the too low ride height it makes cleaning properly a real problem.

The body roll seems slightly more pronounced during hard cornering and abrupt maneuvers. Not alarmingly so and it requires no adjustment in driving style but it is something to be aware of.

Down travel on the rear suspension is reduced. This is a subjective observation as when the air strut is at 'Off Road' height suspension articulation is compromised by the increased pressure in the air springs that provide the lift. My observations were taken with the system depressurized. However, available rear down travel appears to be reduced by as much as 2" so I could be more to likely to lift a wheel when off road?

That's about it for the bad. If I notice anything more as time go's by then I will add to this list.
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Old 03-29-2013, 11:15 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Now for the positive.

The ride quality is fantastic. This was something I was quite concerned about due to the fact I had read so much about the LR3's 'superior' air ride compared to coils. My wife puts on some serious highway miles so I wanted to retain a comfortable ride. I would say that it is as good, if not better than it used to be. It soaks up bumps and pot holes nicely with no vibrations or rattles transfered to the cabin. Certainly a much better ride if you compare it to the spine jarring 'Off Road' setting of the EAS, I never liked that. In my view a suspension should be more compliant off road, not stiffer!

No noticeable increase in noise, harshness or vibration levels. This was another thing that I had reservations about. Again, because the wife uses the LR3 on the highway a lot, often early morning and late at night, this can make a huge difference in fatigue when driving long distances. The vehicle 'feels' the same as it always has.

The handling is not too bad at all. There is a certain amount of increased body roll as previously mentioned but I can still drive aggressively if the need arises without any issues. It is still a heavy SUV, and has limits.

The "magic" orange box works exactly as it say's on the tin. All the TR functions still work properly and the adaptive headlights still work with no warning lights or error messages.

No more EAS faults! While this may seem like an obvious statement the amount of security and piece of mind that comes from no longer being concerned about a temperamental EAS system is great. No warning lights, no more bouncing' at traffic lights and no more 600Km round trips to the dealer or nearest LR specialist to get it calibrated on the LR Testbook. Nice!

So now the big question..............if I had to choose to do a coil conversion again, knowing what I know now, would I still go ahead?

That is a hard one to answer as my situation is unique to me, as everyone else's will be to them, so what I want/need/expect out of my vehicle may be different to the next guy but I will answer the question this way.

We have a 2006 LR3 HSE with over 240,000KM that is mostly driven by my wife. She is not into off roading. It regularly (twice, three times a month) shuttles her 300KM to the city, she has a full day at work then it shuttles her home (300KM return journey). It hauls the family around, five of us+ the occasional extra. It is large enough to use as a delivery van for the wife's other business. It is small enough and maneuverable enough to park anywhere. It works in +38C weather and -38C weather. It travels dirt roads and is used every single day of the year. We live a long way from a LR dealer or LR specialist with the relevant computer diagnostic equipment. We don't like trading vehicles every three years.

The only thing wrong with it is the EAS and to be honest nothing in the above list of requirements demands that the vehicle we use has to have it. Sure, I would like to tell you that I am a regular on the Rubicon Trail and I take this vehicle off roading all the time but it is just not true. I have a nicely built Range Rover Classic for that sort of thing, so my answer is yes, I would do it again.

The only real problem I have with the Atlantic British kit is the Low ride height. I believe this to be an error or defect on their end and hopefully I can get that resolved quickly. If the vehicle was indeed sitting at the 'Normal' ride height I could honestly say that I was 100% satisfied with the product.


I hope reading my experiences will help those of you considering such a conversion make a more informed decision.
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Old 03-29-2013, 11:38 PM   #12 (permalink)
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But wait....there's more, and this also figures into my decision to do a coil conversion.

This vehicle is destined for an "Afterlife".


Dramatic pause........................


When the wife has finished driving the poor old LR3 into the ground and the kids have had enough of trying to ruin the interior, if there is anything left resembling a working vehicle I get to inherit it. "Her indoors" will graduate to a newer LR4.

When/if I do the plan is to make it the "new" family off roader. With this in mind I will be building some stuff for it in the near future such as bumpers, sliders, spare tyre carriers etc etc etc.

I also plan to permanently raise the ride height to around the original "Off Road" height (enough for a 32" tyre) using fabricated strut spacers.
I may also look into swapping out the coil springs that were provided by Atlantic British and fitting a set of Old Man Emu 2" lift springs but that depends on what AB want to do about the low ride height. If they step up and offer to replace the springs with ones that set the vehicle at the correct height, it will mean more work for me to change them out but at least I will have a better starting point.

If AB don't want to do anything........I''ll be really pissed off.

Either way I need to raise the ride height as soon as possible to at least the 'Normal' level. I will keep anyone who is interested posted on future developments.
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Old 03-30-2013, 01:50 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Thanks! Great write up.
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Old 03-30-2013, 05:59 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Thanks Matt That's was a great write up. Time to order me a coil suspension
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Old 03-30-2013, 08:05 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Everyday driving is tougher than a spot of off road.

My thinking is that everyday driving is tougher on a vehicle than a spot of off road now and then, at least in Alberta.

The constant pounding our vehicles take, cold weather, hot weather, rain, snow, ice, hail, sand, bugs, rocks, deer, the odd moose and maybe a cow or two, not to mention a Kenworth, and or a Civic, and all within a few days of each other.

I will agree, the constant in the background, wondering when the air system will quit can make the coil conversion a relief.

Me, I will stick with the air, but then I live only 20 miles from the most northern LR dealer in the world - well maybe the dealer in either Greenland or Iceland is further north, but I do not think so.

I was wondering when we would see the write up - I had not forgotten, well done, thank you. I appreciated the pictures.
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