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Is there any downside to Air Suspension?

Chatterbox

Member
Dec 23, 2017
12
11
Salish Territory, Cascadia
My 2014 S has air suspension and it's working well. Once, however, I loaded up the car with lots of heavy things and left the car full overnight. The next day the car complained about the weight and refused to move. I unloaded it and the car eventually returned to normal...forgiving me so-to-say. I would agree that complexity is the enemy of reliability. The pop-out door handles on the S often fail, and I'd swap for Model 3 mechanical handles any day. I am not totally sure that 6cm of ride height adjustability in the air shocks is truly worth the added cost or risk of failure.
 
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Crutonius

Member
Sep 12, 2020
152
133
Salt Lake City, Utah
I have an air suspension on my 2013. I've also test driven versions of the same year with coil suspension. I can't say that I noticed a difference. For that particular air suspension I would say that unless you need the ride height to change dynamically then it's just another thing to break.
 
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beatle

Active Member
Aug 31, 2019
1,032
502
Springfield, VA
My 2014 S has air suspension and it's working well. Once, however, I loaded up the car with lots of heavy things and left the car full overnight. The next day the car complained about the weight and refused to move. I unloaded it and the car eventually returned to normal...forgiving me so-to-say. I would agree that complexity is the enemy of reliability. The pop-out door handles on the S often fail, and I'd swap for Model 3 mechanical handles any day. I am not totally sure that 6cm of ride height adjustability in the air shocks is truly worth the added cost or risk of failure.

How much heavy stuff? There are others who would disagree that the air suspension is not worth the premium, though each person can be right in their own valuation.

Another potential drawback beyond the complexity is the additional weight and power draw of the compressor system

Power use by the compressor would be negligible during the course of a drive, just like the stereo. While it may draw 1kw (I am making that figure up) the duty cycle is so low, operating for only a few seconds during a drive, that the power usage in relation to what it takes to propel the car down the road is negligible. Note that Tesla does not rate coil/air suspension vehicles differently as they relate to range. Weight would also be of little consequence in a car weighing close to 5,000 pounds.
 

1speed

Member
Oct 6, 2017
112
51
Seminole, FL
The air suspension is very helpful for steep driveways to prevent bottoming out. It remembers suspension setting by location so when I go back. So for example, it raises the suspension to very high to get over my mom's driveway hump. If you live in a hilly or mountainous area, it might be a plus for you. Have never had any issue so far with it.
 
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SouthBayGuy

Member
Apr 22, 2018
112
80
California
I am not sure if Tesla cars also have automatic adjustable camber. But my biggest concern with air suspension is that even tire wear will only be at a specific height. Once you lower or raise the car, the camber is affected. So if you prefer to drive at a height that different from factory spec, you will get uneven tire wear over time. For example, the inside of your tires will wear out much faster than the outside of your tires if you lower your car at the lowest setting.
 
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WillN to Go

Member
Jul 22, 2020
15
7
Los Angeles
Good reports. I've driven in a custom van with air suspension - all I remember is that it could level itself out, but I've also driven a 1972 Citroen. The Citroen was amazing, best ride ever. I've also driven a Mercedes Benz about the same age, it also had a 'soft ride but it was all mush. The Citroen seemed much better, better handling (but I don't remember the details).
I have a Model Y, feel every bump and wonder why?
The suspension system in the Citroen was unreliable needing repairs constantly. I look forward to whatever Tesla does with the Cybertruck.


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.




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.



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



Many people may not feel any difference between coil or air. It's up to you.
 
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ThosEM

Space Weatherman
Dec 13, 2013
869
310
Annapolis, MD
Firm feeling may get more floaty toward 100k miles and beyond. A slow leak has developed in one wheel, which is very difficult to diagnose because it takes at least several days to become a noticeable sag.
 
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PrGrPa

Member
Aug 12, 2017
317
155
Manchester
Model S air suspension has been fine. Less gnar than model 3 coils. Generally softer than coils I’ve driven before. Not as floaty as some Mercedes vehicles I’ve driven with air suspension (cars and trucks).

maintenance? It’s expensive whether it is coils or air so when it happens you just accept it.

I can see from driving both a Model S and a Model 3 how folks can prefer either. I’m happy with both.
 

roblab

Active Member
Jul 15, 2008
3,397
2,448
Angwin (Napa Valley) CA
Four more expensive things to break and repair. Go simple.

That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. That means you would forego power steering, power brakes, variable windshield wipers, remote door locks... the list goes on. Some things are just worth the extra complexity and cost, though hardly anybody that owns a Tesla with air ever thinks about it or has problems with it. Wifey has coils on her Model 3, and there's a definite difference between hers and my Model S.

And then, we can talk about people who buy gas cars with hundreds of moving parts that scrape and move and slide, and no one ever gives them a thought, either. Yeah, go simple! They're always breaking and needing repair. On my S, about the only moving parts I replace are my windshield wipers. Four cars, two with 100K miles, now two new ones with 20K each.
 

Hayseed_MS

Member
Jan 19, 2021
637
1,364
Midwest
Not fully understanding why this would be a downside of air suspension. New to Teslas but what is the correlation? Does having air suspension cause this vibration?
 

Cheburashka

Active Member
Jan 29, 2018
2,217
2,626
Los Gatos, CA
Only cars with the air suspension have that issue. Due to the ride height, that part has more stress on it. I think Tesla has tried addressing the problem in many ways, including part revisions and OTA adjustments to the height.. not sure if they actually managed to fix it.
 

alloverx

Member
Mar 20, 2016
876
606
Seattle
I assume Tesla does not make the air suspension so they will likely use the same suppliers as other carmakers. Obviously the Tesla configuration could be unique.
 

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