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Is there any downside to Air Suspension?

I will be in the market for a used 2017 Model S in the next few months. Wondering if i should seek coil suspension models or air suspension? My plan is to keep the car long term and i am concerned air suspension could become a maintenance issue down the road. Though i have heard the folks here mention air suspension rides better.

What is the consensus on long term costs to maintain air suspension?

I will be coming from a non Tesla EV and wondering if air suspension is going to ride different from my current coil EV.
 
All cars ride differently. The air just determines the ride height and sometimes the spring rate. I have not driven a car with standard air suspension, just the plus suspension, but I think it's great. I did have a damper replaced last year due to a leak, but otherwise the adjustable ride height can be very useful when climbing steep driveways or going off road.

Air will almost surely be more expensive to maintain long term. There really isn't much to wear out on a non-adjustable coil suspension other than the damper itself, and modern gas shock absorbers generally last a very long time as long as you don't damage them. With air, you have a compressor, air lines, height sensors, and the dampers themselves. If you spring a leak, the leak has to be traced and the component repaired/replaced.

I still think it's a great feature. These aren't cheap cars to begin with. Might as well go for the gusto!
 
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Coil suspensions are easier to fix and replace. There is little to no chance of a catastrophic failure (e.g. compressor going out, hose line becoming disconnected or a hole impacting the bladder). Springs can be linear (1" = 100 lbs) or progressive (first 1" of travel is 100 lbs, 2-3" is 400 lbs and the final amount of travel being 1000 lbs") to affect not only ride quality but performance (such as Eibach)

Some people prefer the ride quality of an air suspension (older Lincolns have it, as do larger trucks) while racers may prefer the progressive and consistent aspect - as they're working on their vehicles, tuning them

When shopping for a large truck, air suspension (e.g. Rams and 4Runners) to help with load leveling. If I was to be racing around a track on a bike or car, I'd tune the suspension using springs.

Catastrophic failure is going to cost more for an air-ride system, but you'll be paying for for maintenance as springs do wear out (become weaker).

Tesla's are heavy, and even swooping through corners at speed, I haven't encountered performance problems with the air suspension. If I were to do it again (and I am) then I'd have zero fear or concern going with an air suspension.
 
It depends on the air suspension design. The previous generation Lexus LS 460 air suspension was slow to respond and guaranteed to need replacement at the tune of $4500-6000. That said, I haven’t heard of the Model S air suspension being problematic on the forum. The redesigned Raven Model S air suspension (May 2019 and newer) is significantly smoother than the original Tesla design — so much so that owners here have reported the Raven design is 90% as smooth as a Lexus or Benz. I can attest to that comparing our Raven S to my previous LS 460, with both cars riding on exact same Pirelli P7 Plus 245/45/19 tires (so you can’t blame it on different tires).
 
Lots of talk about potential for repairs, which is well-grounded because of the expense and complexity of the components as well as historical air suspension systems on some other brands proving unreliable - but generally speaking I think the consensus is that Tesla’s air suspension has been pretty solid, with a fairly low rate of failure and repairs. Of course there is the caveat that no Tesla air suspension is a decade old yet.
 
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It also depends on what kind of suspension you are used to before. Coming from a bmw 5 with sports suspension, I could not stand the 2017 S air suspension so we went with coil. I do envy the height adjustment occasionally.
It is a shame they don’t make the Performance Plus air suspension anymore - it’s very tight and reminiscent of your BMW’s tuning. Although I’ve heard that the Raven is the best of both worlds, and haven’t driven one myself yet.
 
Some folk prefer the ride and handling of the coil suspension--the air suspension is too floaty. Everyone always brings up potential repair cost, which is a fair concern, but OTOH the air suspension on my '13 P85 never had a problem in almost 8 years and 137K miles.
I would agree. I drove 2014 85 with air suspension and 21 rims for some time, now have 2015 90d with coils 19 rims. It’s subjective I guess, but air suspension is way too floaty and feels like garbage when you do some spirited driving. The coil one with Michelin as3 rubber feels like a high precision knife and is just soo much fun to drive, it’s the best handling car I ever owned:) I would never consider old style air suspension ( ravens with magnetic dampeners might be different, but I didn’t try it yet), it really depends what is your comfort/handling value at.
By the way, what really kills the comfort it 21 rims and summer rubber, no air suspension will ever fix that. I would suggest to go for coils + 19 inch wheels paired with good all season tires or a raven air suspension setup
 
I would agree. I drove 2014 85 with air suspension and 21 rims for some time, now have 2015 90d with coils 19 rims. It’s subjective I guess, but air suspension is way too floaty and feels like garbage when you do some spirited driving. The coil one with Michelin as3 rubber feels like a high precision knife and is just soo much fun to drive, it’s the best handling car I ever owned:) I would never consider old style air suspension ( ravens with magnetic dampeners might be different, but I didn’t try it yet), it really depends what is your comfort/handling value at.
By the way, what really kills the comfort it 21 rims and summer rubber, no air suspension will ever fix that. I would suggest to go for coils + 19 inch wheels paired with good all season tires or a raven air suspension setup

The Raven air suspension is pretty well designed. In lowest height and Sport setting, the S feels pretty buttoned down for a sedan of its size. I had 21s when it was new with the ContiSportContact 5P Summer tires and it rode really well. I let a friend drive it and he said he “couldn’t feel a thing”, referring to how well road bumps were dampened. He normally drives a BMW M3.

The S looks great with the 21s. The only reason I downgraded to 19s was for better range and lower tire costs. The 19s do ride better but not as much as I thought it would. The 21s were pretty comfortable with Raven air suspension.
 
I got a car with coils. I agree it definitely handles better in curves.

I've driven both the air suspension and the Raven suspension. Raven suspension is great, but the old air suspension isn't worth it to me. I rarely scrape with the coils. The air suspension has issues with the dreaded half shaft vibration that still hasn't been fixed and is costly to repair + a bunch of parts that can potentially break if you intend to keep the car for a long time. Otherwise, as far as air suspension goes, it's pretty reliable.
 
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Tam

Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
10,714
9,765
Visalia, CA
...air suspension could become a maintenance issue down the road....

I drove my 2012 Model S air suspension until 100,000 and sold it off in excellent condition with no maintenance on the air suspension at all.

I am still driving 2017 Model X air suspension for 50,000 miles and it has been trouble-free.

It's a random sample of 2 cars so it might be statically insignificant.


...Though i have heard the folks here mention air suspension rides better...

I've been driving Model 3 without air suspension and other Model S's without air suspension before but I still prefer air suspension. It's more comfortable and less noisy.

...What is the consensus on long term costs to maintain air suspension?..

So far, zero for my 2 Tesla with air suspension.

...I will be coming from a non Tesla EV and wondering if air suspension is going to ride different from my current coil EV.

Many people may not feel any difference between coil or air. It's up to you.
 
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15 year old Toyota with rear air suspension and all good but relatively low miles.
-There are some videos of folks having to repair control modules.

Per Youtube, seems to be horrifically expensive to repair some old German makes.

I'd say for a mid-large SUV it makes sense rather than a sedan, just to manage the extra weight. (Perhaps EVs change that equation due to battery weight).
Obviously drive both versions and see how comfortable it feels to you.
 
15 year old Toyota with rear air suspension and all good but relatively low miles.
-There are some videos of folks having to repair control modules.

Per Youtube, seems to be horrifically expensive to repair some old German makes.

I'd say for a mid-large SUV it makes sense rather than a sedan, just to manage the extra weight. (Perhaps EVs change that equation due to battery weight).
Obviously drive both versions and see how comfortable it feels to you.
The air suspension I had on my German car and even Lincoln navigator was amazing. It was like you were riding on a cloud. I didnt notice a difference with the Tesla one
 

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