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Anyone retrofitted air suspension? Or done a custom airbag setup?

While being overwhelmed of all the other features of the car during the ordering process, I kept telling myself that the Air Suspension wasn't that big of a deal. Long story short.. I am wrong.
To the point; has anyone retrofitted the smart-air-suspension to a vehicle post-ordering process? I feel as if it could be done relatively easily as the harness should be the same and I would just need the struts, compressor, modules, and reprogramming -hoping Tesla would work with me as I know the stories of members getting the Service Centers to 'check' the BioWeapon Defense mode option in the car's internal settings and enable that.

Or a more preferred method in terms of wallet and troubleshooting- adapting an AirRide or AirLift air suspension system to fit the vehicle. As those setups are more straightforward for someone of my skill.

Thoughts?...other than "Trade it in and get a model with Air Suspension" as its not something I am going to even consider.

Specifically looking for feedback from users who've had experience looking at the Model S struts and any experience with adapting air ride to vehicles.

Looking forward to seeing what can be engineered!
  • Informative
Reactions: davidc18
I'm with you in wishing I had forked over the extra bucks for the air suspension. At the time I ordered mine the general consensus seemed to be that the air suspension is nice, but generally "softer" than the coils. My problem is that while I appreciate the perhaps perceptibly stiffer suspension feel around corners. the car has such low ground clearance that I inevitably scrape the protector rails every time I enter my garage. At this point I would give up a little cornering finesse for the adjustable ground clearance.

However, examining the options, it would seem that the labor involved in changing out suspension components on all 4 corners, adding the compressor and control module and re-programming the car would cost quite a bit more than the difference in price to upgrade to a model that has the air suspension built in from the factory. If you are capable of performing the installation yourself, the equation might look different, but I wouldn't want to be without my favorite car for the length of time this sort of surgery might take.

Just my $0.02 worth, YMMV...


Active Member
Feb 13, 2013
I doubt anyone's ever even asked this before? I kinda expect more will be going the other way, for easier/cheaper maintenance, or drivers who prefer coils. It is still kind of weird, to me, that Tesla forces air suspensions on all of its Model S buyers.

The manual shows multiple locations for the bits (compressor, solenoid, air reservoir and sensors) which support SAS. I suggest seeing if you have them, first. It will be more than (4) air struts you need. You will also need Tool Box, to pressurize it.

Unless you're attached to your car, a swap may make more sense.
Hmm has anyone figured out any new methods? I checked out the above link with no luck...

Yes. I guess I'll finally admit that I've done it. It's not controlled by Tesla's system though because I don't like their automated control system... too many restrictions.

Also, still under construction.

Please share the details.

Please tell me what you have accomplished. Pm me. I have to do something with this harsh ride.

I've been building low cars for a couple of decades. I've worked with Universal Air products (mentioned above), AirBagIt products and others. Love all of their products, by the way. Anyway, the quick and dirty. I was going to get the air ride Model S but I do not like Tesla's control system for it. I decided to build my own separate setup so that I could have full control of the system. I wanted to build a typical bellows bag air strut for the car but the Model S has very small strut towers and a bellows (of the correct capacity, at least half the car's weight) would not fit. That's a 2,500-lb air bag. The bag is about 1/2" too large. I could have gone with a smaller bag but didn't want to do that (yet). I decided to use Tesla's air struts (which are sleeve style bags... which I'm typically not a fan of) in the meantime. Not sure what details you want but feel free to ask questions. Messing with cars is what I do and there's no car design out there that's so scary great that I won't play around with it. :)







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Were you looking to lower or raise your MS?
I'm looking to raise mine for to avoid scraping on steep approaches, etc.

Every car I've owned for the past 25 years (6 of them) has either had hydraulics or air ride and I've built/helped build several others. To answer your question directly, I was looking to be able to lower or raise my vehicle whenever I wanted... regardless of speed, regardless of GPS location. :)
Yes please sign me up! Guessing you just ran new air lines and have it run off a normal aftermarket airbag system? Like you I just want to control ride height whenever I want. I love my cars low but realize to be functional it would be great to raise when needed like on the highway or rough areas.

How did you prevent the stock system from throwing error codes, just maintain pressure in the system?
Yes please sign me up! Guessing you just ran new air lines and have it run off a normal aftermarket airbag system? Like you I just want to control ride height whenever I want. I love my cars low but realize to be functional it would be great to raise when needed like on the highway or rough areas.

How did you prevent the stock system from throwing error codes, just maintain pressure in the system?

The system is totally separate from the car itself. The Tesla has no idea it has air ride. :) The battery (Odyssey PC680) in the center of the pic above runs the entire setup (compressors, control system, valves, etc, and every other accessory I've installed or plan to install... so far). The only thing the "Tesla system" is used for is to run a 750W inverter which has a 2 - 6 amp trickle charger hooked up to it that keeps the Odyssey charged. The charging system for the air ride battery was the hardest thing to figure out for the entire system... for this car. :)
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Reactions: Piano Wood
No need for the inverter/trickle charger combo. A DC-DC buck-boost converter, common on Amazon, will keep that battery happy with less conversion losses. Set it at the proper float charge voltage and forget about it.

A buck-boost converter may have been a great idea but I wanted to keep entire airbag power setup TOTALLY separate from the car's power system (currently, they don't even share grounds) and the inverter/charger combo was the easiest way to do that.
I plan on having a separate 12V in the rear for some audio equipment, be nice to tire this all together back there. It would be tied to the 12V in the front, but shouldn't be a problem.

Do you plan to try to use an isolator from the DC-DC converter to charge the second battery, or just wire it parallel and hope for the best? :) I was thinking that if I were to just run a custom stereo I'd probably try to run it off of a large capacitor or bank of capacitors before trying to tap into the Tesla 12V system with another battery... just to try to avoid any huge amplifier spikes to the converter from heavy bass. It'll be interesting to hear what you decide to do with it.

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