Air Suspension

Air Suspension

Think it is a must have? I reserved my MS and now that I'm hearing the factory will shut down for a wek I'm worried that my delivery will be delayed past my lease expiration date on my current car.

If I could live with out the suspension I could get a MS with all of the same options quicker.

rodhoffman | 05. April 2013

I personally find the air suspension quite useful, especially when dealing with steep driveways. I also see a remarkable difference in highway efficiency when the car is riding on low. It is also a VERY smooth ride.

Rod in Evergreen, CO

christurbeville | 05. April 2013

I've been tinkering with a feature request. The driveway issue you mention hits me at work. Exiting my garage if I don't raise the suspension it will scrape. I usually remember but have forgotten a couple times and spent the rest of the day hating myself. I've taken to raising it when I park and have noticed the car is easier to get in and out of when raised. The feature would be to always go to very high when in park and not to leave till speed dictates. The only down side I've come up with is the rear hatch may have clearance issues in some garages. Ideas?

elguapo | 05. April 2013

Who said the factory is shutting down for a week?

rodhoffman | 05. April 2013

christurbeville - You can set the height of teh rear hatch opening (assuming you have the tech package) by opening the hatch and pressing the button to stop at a desired height. It will remember the height and always stop at it.


cgiGuy | 05. April 2013

*Press and hold the button until it beeps.

Captain_Zap | 05. April 2013

I find the adjustable air suspension essential. This is especially true for any driveways that have even a small gutter at its base. Do you know how much clearance does the car have without air suspension?

It is starting to look like the employees get a break after the end of each quarter after their rush for a maintenance shutdown.
I thought it was a good move after the holidays.

I wonder if it is Spring Break in their area at the time of the shutdown. If they keep it up like this they'll get the 4th of July off. Sounds like a great plan for Tesla and its employees.

PaceyWhitter | 05. April 2013

I always thought the adjustable part of air suspension was just a perk, but the real reason for it was improved ride characteristics. I haven't ridden in a standard suspension, but if they did an amazing job with it and if the only difference between the two was the ability to adjust the air, I wouldn't get it.

torst1 | 05. April 2013

The main thing I find about air suspension is ride quality and comfort.
-Sure rising the car when needed is great, but on previous cars I had with air suspension the ability to set the stiffness and lower center of gravity by the push of a button is what really counts. And for Tesla the lowering in higher speed also ensures better mileage.

Some days you fancy comfort gliding around - other days you feel the horn growing or you are a bit in a squeeze time wise. Put it into sport mode and meet them curves with a big grin on your face. And the best part, even in sport mode you have more comfort then with traditional coilovers. With traditional suspension you get one or the other. Either a comfy ride stable as your grandmas king size spring bed - or a sporty set up perfect for track days and curvy roads, which you really hate for the best part of the year. Air suspension let you have both, and even more so with the new performance pack option with better Polyurethane bushes and better sway bars.

Choose air - just do it.

rochec | 05. April 2013

Great, thanks guys...I'll just try to be patient and wait!

diegoPasadena | 05. April 2013

I think the most important function of the air suspension is not the occasional raising and lowering for obstacles - although it is certainly useful - but the fact that the car lowers itself at freeway speeds, which improves aerodynamic performance substantially, which will have a direct and measurable impact on your range. It's not just a gimmick. I'd recommend getting it just for that.

DouglasR | 05. April 2013

How do we know there is a measurable improvement in range with the air suspension? Has anyone measured it and reported back?

riceuguy | 05. April 2013

Rochec, also talk to your lease provider. I was told that it wouldn't be a big deal to extend the lease on my Infiniti for up to 3 months if my MS weren't coming 6 months ahead of its original schedule!

robkal007 | 05. April 2013

Not sure if this was mentioned, but my new use for air suspension is around high curbs. Saves the lower edge of the door.

JaneW | 05. April 2013

I have Vin and just signed the purchase agreement. I was also told they are shutting down next week for retooling and some vacation time. They say it won't change timing, but I don't see why not.
Expecting car by end of April.

JaneW | 05. April 2013

Sorry. Last post went to wrong thread.
Air should give you much better handling in this big, heavy car.

July10Models | 05. April 2013

I had three passengers in my car and the air suspension auto leveled the car. The ride felt normal even with the with added unbalanced weight in the car.

mcptwo | 05. April 2013

Air suspension is essential. Too many steep driveways and high curbs out there. It also appears to improve stability at maximum highway speeds. Hard to compare range because the suspension automatically goes to Low at highway speeds.

I still hope we can get more control over the very high setting. Possibly setting it for speeds under 10 mph.

RedShift | 05. April 2013

2 questions:

1. I can't seem to be able to set the ride height to low, even though its an option. Car will lower itself when set, but goes back to standard as soon as I start to drive. So when can you actually use the manual setting? ( I know for freeway travel it goes to low automatically)

2. Since someone brought this up earlier: once you have set the limit, can you reset the limit for how high the trunk lid opens up? I have accidentally set it too low right now.

inverts | 05. April 2013

RedShift: have noticed the same. It seems that low ride is given after some time (1 minute?) above a certain speed (55 mph?). Jetting onto a freeway hitting 65-70 in 6-7 seconds will not immediately lower the car, so I think there is some sort of time delay in the mechanism. At 45 mph on surface streets, it does not lower either, but at 55 mph it does eventually. I still have to observe at what speed it goes from low to standard when I go off the freeway.

On the other hand, the very high setting is cancelled immediately if you go above the critical speed (12 mph if memory serves me well).

2) just push the lid all the way up by hand. Done.

RedShift | 05. April 2013

Thanks for the help!

Vlnprof | 06. April 2013

Having just received my standard suspension two days ago, I can tell you the drive is still as amazing as with air. I get both the gliding ride and the sporty feel whenever I want - so I am not really sure what is being described above.

It seems some people must have the air for driveways, and I also have not heard how much a difference air makes for range. I do not know how anyone would have been able to measure that yet since standard suspension has just begun deliveries. At any rate, I think the trade off is the ability to adjust the height, possibly some marginal range difference, and the leveling of the car for heavy loads vs. saving money both now and in the future if air needs maintenance. The car is still perfect without air. You'll love it either way!

torst1 | 06. April 2013

I guess you refer to my post in this thread, and I can say for certain that air makes a difference. I have previous had german cars both with standard suspension, m-package and air. And I will not go back to standard suspension.

It is true that I have not tested the Tesla S. But ie the Merc E-class is about the same size/weight as Tesla. Also the Bmw 5 series. And from my experience it is totally worth it to shell out for air suspension.

You can tailor make your suspension to whatever suits your need whenever.
Heavy load in the back? No problem, air levels it out. Rough surface on the road for the next 2 hours drive? Air fixes that too, just switch to comfortable settings. Tight schedule due to the rough road surface? As soon as the surface gets better and you would like to fly around the bends put the air matic in sport you can actually feel the car tighten up allowing you higher speed in the curves.

But sure, if you rarely go beyond legal speed limits or hardly drive anywhere where the roads are twisty with thrilling curves, or never drive anywhere with heavy loads or many passengers and your driveway is smooth and flat, standard suspension will work fine. But as to your statement that the standard suspension is equal to air - I do not agree at all. I have seen it before with other cars - air suspension is worth the extra money.
And now you can get even more sport car feeling by adding the performance package with hi-end bushings and sway bar. I guarantee that combo will outperform standard suspension any day of the week.

Btw - lowering the car in highway speed does count for better mileage. By lowering the drag and air resistance. Less kw needed to "punch" holes in the air to assure forward motion.

gocken1 | 06. April 2013

I am unaware that there are settings for comfort/sport on the Model S air suspension. Are you sure your not adjusting the steering setting from comfort/standard/sport? As far as I am aware the air suspension only has settings for height.

torst1 | 06. April 2013

Well as I don't have a Tesla yet I am not certain.
But from what I have read in the forum the air suspension Tesla uses is the same system Mercedes uses, they call it air matic. And on the E-class there is a switch to choose mode - sport is more firm then comfort. So I assume Tesla too will have that option?

torst1 | 06. April 2013

Come to think of something. Maybe it is not that the sport/comfort settings actually tightens the air suspension - maybe it is the amount of air in the "struts" that predict the hardness of the ride?

Whatever the reason is the perceived stiffness and ability to handle corners will actually be influenced on the ride height itself, as the lower the car rides the better handling/center of gravity.

Getting Amped Again | 06. April 2013

There are currently no settings for the air suspension other than height.

torst1 | 06. April 2013

Maybe some tech savy folk can shed som light on the Mercedes air-matic system?
Does the amount of air in the struts dictate the firmness or is it some clever digital gizmo that makes the airmatic softer or harder?

As Tesla uses the same system I am sure they have the same ability as the Merc's to adjust the level of firmness. Maybe Tesla will come with some smart software upgrade at a later time?

jpgrolle | 24. April 2013

So... no further views yet? It seems like the air suspension on the Tesla is not allowing for (manual or automatic) adjustments on the firmness of the suspension, just the height - unlike some other cars with air suspension. Maybe the impressive ride quality through holes then is owing much more to the relatively big mass of the car and the relatively soft stabilizers (allowed by the low centre of gravity) than to the active suspension?
If the active air suspension is capable of adapting more than just the height, Tesla is certainly not saying so on the options page:
"Active Air Suspension continuously responds to the vehicle’s speed, lowering to improve aerodynamics at highway speeds or raising to increase clearance for city driving. Using the touchscreen, drivers can temporarily raise or lower Model S when entering a driveway, navigating a dirt road or simply unloading belongings."

RedShift | 24. April 2013

I mentioned this to Tesla (in a complement sent to George B)

Along with the steering, they should have provided the sport mode setting for the air suspension as well.

drsan | 20. Oktober 2013

What's the difference in active air suspension then and smart air suspension now in model S

chrisdl | 21. Oktober 2013

The name.

stevenmaifert | 21. Oktober 2013

@drsan39 - Name and $750 :)

iTesla | 21. Oktober 2013

I have an E500 and my P85 feels like the MB on the Sport 1 setting. My Tesla is only one week young, but my wife would like a softer setting. You can feel the tar lines in the road through the seat. I like the feedback. After all it is a performance model.

lolachampcar | 21. Oktober 2013


I sure wish I could give you the MB like airbag feel from my P+ to help you with your wife.