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  1. #1
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    Default FX3 Actuator Queston

    I just got my car back fromt he chevy dealer (93vette). I had the diagnostics done on the suspension they told me that I had to bad actuators one front and one rear. I am trying to decide which route to take (keeping fx3 or not) is it okay to drive for a week or two before replacing the actuators, my light just came on last week. The dealer prices where outrageos they wanted 1000 for each shock and 700 for each actuator not counting labor. What a rip off, I am finding online shocks for 200 and actuators 260-350.

    Also can you buy the machine to reset the codes, I am going to have my local garage fix the car but they don't have the machine to reset the codes.

    Thank you
    John

  2. #2
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    Hi, have the FX3 option on my 91, didn't work when I bought it. I just put on a set of KYB's cause after looking at the cost to replace/rebuild the shocks and the actuators I'd go broke!! You can find actuators and other FX3 parts on e-bay now and again. If I find a good deal on parts one day I'll restore the system,but for now, $$ no way. About resetting the codes,can't help there(I just removed the bulb in the DIC)

  3. #3
    Member c4cruiser's Avatar
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    You won't hurt anything by driving with the bad actuators. The dealer is quoting prices so far above ridiculous that it's not even worth laughing about.

    You should be able to find new shocks inthe $250 range or you can have Bilstein rebuild your old shocks. Actuators, unfortunately, are high-priced and availability is getting to where the prices will continue to go up.

    My 92 vert had FX3 and I really liked it. I had a shock rebuilt and replaced one actuator. Still worth the money!!

    Depending on your car's mileage, it might be worth rebuilding all 4 shocks and getting a couple of actuators. To find about the rebuild process, call Bilstein at 1-800-537-1085 (Poway CA near San Diego) and ask for Jack French. he can give you information on what's involved. I had heard that Bilstein is supplying shocks and actuators for a certain Ferrari model and the actuators are supposed to be the same as the Corvette ones. Ask when you call.

    If you do decide to send them off, just buy a set of cheap shocks for a base Corvette. When the rebuilt shocks come back, sell the cheapies on eBay.

    The SRC codes will remain as long as the SRC controller and BCM sees any problem related to the FX3 system; so a bad actuator (whether or not it's even on the car) will still cause a code to be set and the light to come on even after clearing the codes.

    As far as resetting the codes, the tool you need is suprising. A paper clip !! Straighten the paper clip into a U shape Turn the ignition switch to the ON position but don't start the engine. Insert one end of the paper clip into terminal A of the ALDL. Take the other end and insert it into terminal C for two seconds and remove it. Repeat this two more times for a total of three times. This resets any SRC codes.

    You can use the paper clip to find any of the SRC codes or any ECM or BCM codes for that matter. The best money you can spend on the car is for a set of the genuine GM Service Manuals. These manuals are the same ones that the service techs have available to them at the dealership. Go to www.helminc.com to order a set for your car.

    These manuals are written for people with some level on mechanical aptitude but they are certainly written so that you can understand the diagnostic and repair procedures. For example, The section for the Selective Ride Control System has everything you need to know to service the system and it;s written clearly and easy to understand and follow.

  4. #4
    Member regalniz's Avatar
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    dont mean to hijack this thread but are actuators year specific?

  5. #5
    Member c4cruiser's Avatar
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    There are two versions of shocks based on the number of degrees the shock rods turn, but I think the actuators are all the same. The front and rear actuators can be swapped side to side but not front to back.

    The only reason they cannot be swapped front to rear is because of the length of the pigtail cable on the actuators. They are just different lengths.

  6. #6
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    I can't believe the paper clip thing thats awsome, my shop is a small garage they are corvette specialist but they don't read the codes for the ride control So thats why I took it to the dealer and they charged me 90 bucks to tell me whats wrong with it. Thanks for the help

    Does anyone know how hard it is to replace the actuators and shocks?

    Thanks

  7. #7
    Member aboatguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by red69coupe
    I can't believe the paper clip thing thats awsome, my shop is a small garage they are corvette specialist but they don't read the codes for the ride control So thats why I took it to the dealer and they charged me 90 bucks to tell me whats wrong with it. Thanks for the help

    Does anyone know how hard it is to replace the actuators and shocks?

    Thanks
    Its pretty easy, a 1 on the boatguy scale!

  8. #8
    Member c4cruiser's Avatar
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    The front shocks are very straightforward. You can even R&R the front shocks without jacking the car up! The actuator is held in place by a C-clip. You should see it on the bottom of the actuator housing. Pull the clip out and lift the actuator straight up. Disconnect the electrical connector and it's out.

    The rears are just a bit more difficult. Raise the car and remove the rear tires. Remove the lower shock mounting nut. At the top of the shock, there is a oval-shaped panel under the frame rail. Remove the two 10mm bolts that hold the panel. Use a floor jack to very slightly raise the lower control arm (about an inch will do) push the lower part of the shock off the mounting stud and pull the shock down so that the upper portion comes out from the inside of the frame rail.

    Disconnect the actuator wire from the harness at the connector. Be careful to not let the wiring harness slip back down into the frame rail. Use something to tie the wire harness so it will not slip. Pull the shock from under the car. Pull the C-clip from the actuator.

    Install of the shocks is just the reverse of removal. It is important to torque the lower rear shock mounting nut at ride height. You can use the floor jack to raise the control arm so that the car is off the jackstand and then tighten to about 60 ft-lbs. Tighten the top nut on the shock shaft so that the bushing is compressed to where the rubber just begins to expand beyond the top and bottom washers. The front lower shock bolts are tightened to about 22-24 ft-lbs.

  9. #9
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    If you take a look at the latest Eckler's and Mid America catalogs it appears that the actuators are becomming available again.

    /s/ Chris Kennedy
    Houston, Texas

  10. #10
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    My light came on in my '95 and after when I looked, one of the actuator tips had slipped off the shock. I put it back on and secured it. Cycled the key, and the light went off.

    The "book" notes that each time the key is cycled, the actuators cycle themselves and return to the default position that is selected by the console knob (I did not know this until I read it.)

    The tiny gear inside the actuator fits atop the shock and turns the shock's inner spindle (effectively changing holes through which oil passed to provide a different "dampening" speed.)

    I suspect that if your shocks are not leaking, you can do without the actuators -- all they do is change the dampening quality. I suspect also that the baseline shock setting would be similar to having non-FX3 shocks. I agree with the comment above about replacing them with "normal" shocks until you make a final decision about rebuilding your stuff.

    . . . just my $0.02 . . . .

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    The book "101 Projects for the C4" (or similar name) has two excellent sections on how this system really works (there are misconceptions that this is an active system which adjusts, itself, to varying road conditions---apparently, everything keys off speed, not road condition), problems, repairs etc. The FX-3 shocks on my '89 Ebay rat were very weak when I got the car, and what I ended up doing was taking the shocks and actuators off, storing them, and simply buying some normal shocks. In addition to cost saving, this allowed me to get a feel for how the car's suspension basically works---sort of a "baseline" if you will. Frankly, I like it so much I really don't see the justification, other than just curiosity, for getting the FX-3 functional again. The cost to replace and/or repair the basics of the system runs from gross to really gross. It's also one less electrical complication to worry about seeing a "red light" over.

    /s/ Chris Kennedy
    Houston, Texas

  12. #12
    Member LT4man's Avatar
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    The early systems were based on speed and adjusted all four shocks at the same time.

    Starting in 1996, the system could adjust EACH shock individually. RPO F45 (Selective Real Time Damping) System on the 96 and later is a true "active suspension". System was pruchased from Cadillac by Dave Hill and brought to Corvette. He had been the main guy at Caddy and knew how good the system was! RTD (real time damping) changes the shock setting at 60mph in "1 foot" of travel. Translated: every 10-15 milliseconds!!!

    I have it on my Vette and it works. I also have not repaired or replaced ANY items in almost 85,000 miles. Knock on wood!!!

    Save The Wave!
    An attendee at all the CruiseFests including the one which never happened.


    Autosig (Shadow) A

  13. #13
    Member Rogier's Avatar
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    Can anybody tell me if the FX3 option, when not functioning properly, goes into some sort of neutral mode?

  14. #14
    Member c4cruiser's Avatar
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    When the SRC light comes on as a result of an error code, the controller sends a signal to the actuators to adjust the shocks to their softest setting regardless of the position of the console switch. The switch becomes disabled at that point. Any SRC code will cause this.

    If the car is started three times in a row without the car moving, a SRC code will be set and the light will come on. If everything in the system is working correctly, the light will go out after the car reaches a speed of 4-5MPH and proper operation is restored (vehicle speed is one of the inputs into the FRC controller).

    If the pot metal gear on the top of the shock rod breaks, that shock cannot change whatever setting the actuator last set it at. You could manually rotate the rod but the little gear has the stops cast into it so you would not really be able to effectively change the setting as the rod will freely rotate.

  15. #15
    Member Roadster Guy's Avatar
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    Default is the 96 F-45 system the same as the early C5 F-45?

    Quote Originally Posted by lt4man
    The early systems were based on speed and adjusted all four shocks at the same time.

    Starting in 1996, the system could adjust EACH shock individually. RPO F45 (Selective Real Time Damping) System on the 96 and later is a true "active suspension". System was pruchased from Cadillac by Dave Hill and brought to Corvette. He had been the main guy at Caddy and knew how good the system was! RTD (real time damping) changes the shock setting at 60mph in "1 foot" of travel. Translated: every 10-15 milliseconds!!!

    I have it on my Vette and it works. I also have not repaired or replaced ANY items in almost 85,000 miles. Knock on wood!!!

    Save The Wave!
    Not to hijack or divert this thread, but this caught my eye.

    You say the F-45 was used in the 96 and later. Is the 96 F-45 the same F-45 as in the C5 or at least the early C5's?

    Also I am wondering after reading this thread, is it difficult to get parts for the 96 F-45 system and is it less/more expensive and difficult to repair compaired to the FX3? Mine with F-45 has about 34,000 miles on it and all seems fine.
    RG

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