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Newbie Question: Air Suspension vs Standard

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by Carguy949, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. Carguy949

    Carguy949 Member

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    I had my first test drive in a Model S last Saturday and I loved it! Never thought I'd consider spending this much on a car, but for this I would. The one I drove was a loaded P85+ with air suspension and 21's. I'm going for the 19's for the smoother, quieter ride, lower cost, greater range range plus I think they still look good. But I'm curious about air vs standard suspension. Who's driven one with air suspension vs standard both on 19s and back to back? I'd love to hear some details on the differences.

    i really envy those of you who already have your cars! Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Discoducky

    Discoducky Active Member

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    I have when I went for a test drive with a friend (standard on 19") and then went back to my car (air on 19"). I could not tell the difference under normal driving (no sport moves).

    But the air comes in very handy for raising the car for steep driveways, snow and better mileage (we'll get it back again with a software update) at highway speeds.
     
  3. Bardlebee

    Bardlebee Member

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    Hello fellow "Never thought I would spend this much on a car" friend! From what I have heard Disco above is right. I am getting standard suspension since I live in Texas. I haven't seen snow in years and I won't miss the raising/lowering of the suspension. There was a time that I wanted it, but after reading theses forums I heard the standard was just as smooth as the air suspension. Though I don't drive like a sports driver :)
     
  4. Jason S

    Jason S Model S Sig Perf (P85)

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    Riding on 21's, I thought the air suspension was slightly softer, cushier, in normal driving versus standard suspension. However, for 19's you may get the same feel on standard suspension and air is little difference.
     
  5. Bardlebee

    Bardlebee Member

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    Yeah, I will note I have no good long term or short term experience between the standard/air.... I only test driven the air suspension.

    Don't take my word for it :)

    If you can find someone in your area with standards, maybe they would be so kind to let you test drive. :)
     
  6. Chris TX

    Chris TX Active Member

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    I was informed by one of the SC personnel that the 21" wheels actually provide slightly more range than the 19" wheels. This was due to the outside diameter of the tire being larger than the 19s making the motor not have to spin as fast at highway speeds. I'm still trying to do the math in my head on how that works, but that's what he said.
     
  7. yobigd20

    yobigd20 Well-Known Member

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    well that's just total BS. everybody knows that the 21s are more inefficient than the 19s because the 21s use stickier tires and have a lower rolling resistance. It even says so right on the web site. It's even built into their online range calculator Your Questions Answered | Tesla Motors so when you click on the button next to the wheels it drops down the estimated range and displays a pop up that says "Range decreases slightly with larger wheels. 21" wheels have more contact with the road and are made of stickier rubber. Both characteristics increase friction."
     
  8. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Bardlebee is correct. I've driven some 21" loaners and they always feel like I'm pushing the car through mud and the Wh/mi is far higher than with my 19" car. The RPMs of the tire are virtually the same. The SC person didn't know what he/she was talking about. No way will 21" tires increase range. A 5% or more decrease is what actually happens depending upon which tire that is installed. And Tesla has said this in print many times. They also have this incorporated into their range calculator.
     
  9. ddruz

    ddruz Member

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    I have the air suspension but had I to do it over again I would go for the coil suspension. I've driven the coil suspension on loaners. It depends most on your usage--whether you need to raise the car for snow or driveways, etc.--not on the feel of the different suspensions.
     
  10. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    P+ on 21s for me and S85 coil on 19s for my wife.
    I took the air off my P+ and put on Tesla coils (using air dampers).

    However, it is a very personal choice. If you are an M5 type, you will feel more at home on coils. If you are an E63 type, air may be a better bet. I suggest you drive both and decide. When you do, please make sure they are reasonably current cars as the older ones have softer lower a-arm bushings and feel very different (pre-May) and very early ones have softer sub-frame bushings which are really strange feeling.

    my 2 cents....



    WRT the 21s are more efficient comment, I believe that comes from the original information about standard 21s using Conti and uprated ones using Pilots. I believe the comment from Tesla was that the Pilots are more efficient (than the Conti's, not the 19s). I could be wrong here but that is what I remember. Tire cross section is a big drag element (look at ChampCar flip ups before the rear wheels or side fence skirts in front of the front wheels) so wider should hurt drag.
     
  11. dave

    dave Member

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    Do you have any more info on this? I have an early P85 (late 2012) with air suspension and I hate the swaying, swishy feeling of the suspension. I haven't driven anything else to compare with. Is there anything I can do to get rid of that feeling? I have historically been a "sport" suspension guy, rather than "comfort" mode.
     
  12. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    I have. I did not feel any significant difference on the roads in my area (San Francisco Peninsula). However, the roads are pretty good here, didn't have the opportunity to drive over any potholes.

    I have coils on my S85 and am very happy with them. Do not have a steep driveway so saw no need for the air suspension.
     
  13. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    Stock coils are higher than Standard air height thus no need to raise the car to clear normal obstacles.

    Dave,
    I know the early sigs have the soft sub-frame bushings which is why they require a new sub-frame when doing a P+ conversion. I do not know when the change was made but know my 4288 P85 had the improved sub-frame bushings (early Feb delivery) but did not have the new lower a-arm bushings. My wife's Sept delivery S85 had the new lower a-arm bushings. I thought it was just the coils that made the car feel sooooo much better than my original P85 but it was the combination of a-arms and coils. Apparently the new a-arms were used initially in the P+ then migrated to production wide.

    A Tesla Service Center parts guy/gal can check the sub-frame part number for your ViN and tell you what you have (I think as they do parts by ViN).
    Bill
     
  14. smil3193

    smil3193 Owner (S85)

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    I have 19" wheels and air suspension and am very glad I ordered it. Roads are rough here; I raise the car every time I go in and out of my driveway and also for high parking lot curbs. Also got caught in a rainstorm two weeks after delivery and was happy to be able to raise the car while slowly driving through some standing water on the road. I can feel/hear the suspension change when I'm slowing from highway speeds and think it probably improves my range on the highway with improved aerodynamics, though I have no way to check that.
     
  15. Chipper

    Chipper Active Member

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    I drove both and chose the 19's with air. I still feel that is a very good option and would do the same thing again. But I would probably hold off and see what Tesla is going to do with the "Smart" air suspension.
     
  16. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Here's what I've gathered from the forum:

    1. Be sure the tires are inflated properly.

    2. Be sure the lug nuts are torqued properly (129 ft. lbs.)

    3. Have Tesla check the torque on the suspension bolts.

    If all of that fails, get the plus upgrade.
     
  17. Gizmotoy

    Gizmotoy Active Member

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    #17 Gizmotoy, Jan 3, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2014
    I drove an S60/air, S85/coil, P85+ when shopping and had this to say in the past:

    Having driven the car for about 6 weeks now, I haven't regretted my choice. It did not feel as disconnected as the P85+ I drove, and has crisp turn-in with little of the floating/slow-to-follow sensation from the rear I thought the air suspension exhibited in aggressive transitions. It may be that the P85+ handles better by the numbers, but I felt much more confident in the abilities of the coils.

    Since I wrote the above I've had the opportunity to settle in and go back and compare the coils to back-to-back with my track-prepped Evo (though not yet on a road course, unfortunately). If the Evo's handling resembles a scalpel, the Model S is a butcher's knife, but it is fairly mind boggling how close the Model S comes despite the extra ton or more of mass it's carrying around (depressing given the Evo is already a bit of a pig). PLUS, that's comparing barely DOT legal extreme performance summer tires on the Evo to the crappy(-handling) all-seasons fitted as stock on my 19"s. The Model S doesn't communicate the "no matter what you do I'll get you out of this" confidence of the Evo no matter which suspension option you choose, but it can hold its own when driven well. Even with the 19"s and all-seasons. Even on the coils. Great praise, IMO.

    What kind of car are you in right now? As I said before, I really believe you should insist on driving both. There's a lot of personal preference here.
     
  18. AmpedUP

    AmpedUP EV Nut

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    Ah, the weekly coils vs. air thread. Is this the first one in 2014? I test drove an air suspension, and ordered coils. Car is due in April, so we'll see. During my test drive of the P85 air, I remember distinctly feeling as though I could literally feel the weight of the battery pack shifting below me, like it was suspended... like a trapeze.. below me. When I felt that, I thought...Oh, this is what people mean when they say "floaty." The best suspension I've ever felt was my brother in law's BMW M5. I've heard that the Model S Coil suspension feels similar. So, I'm looking ahead to coil suspension. That said, my brother has an Audi with air suspension that he has had to invest several thousand into over the last 10 years to keep going...and still swears that he will never go back to a coil suspension. To each his own...
     
  19. sranger

    sranger Member

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    Went with air. I found it much easier to get in and out with height set to max....
     
  20. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    Those M5 types and their love for suspension :)
     

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