Coil vs. Air suspension

Coil vs. Air suspension


I think this may have been discussed before but I'm not finding the thread. I've been debating about getting the air vs. coil suspension and was wondering if anyone has any info on the longevity of the air suspension? Maybe from the Roadsters as the the model S hasn't been out long enough to really have a good idea.

One of my main goals with getting a Tesla is lower maintenance costs compared to a regular vehicle. From what little I have read about air suspensions in general they can be a major point of failure for a vehicle.

I plan on keeping the Tesla a minimum of 5 years.



hfcolvin | February 10, 2013

Somebody else, I'm sure, will post a link to allow a search of this forum. You can also search over at Tesla Motor Club forums. I had the same concern myself and my impression is that air suspensions in general are as reliable as metal springs without the need for much maintenance and a much better ride/handling. They've been used on high end vehicles for several years now with good result and reliability. I finalized my MS with active air.

Superliner | February 10, 2013

@ spazthecat

copy and paste these into your browser;

Having spent my entire career in the automotive industry I can tell you that "height adjustment not withstanding" the main advantage of air suspension is consistent ride frequency under varying loads, that is the holy grail of suspension systems.

In order to change the way the suspension "feels", stiffer, softer etc. requires adjusting the shock absorber valving controlling damping of the jounce and rebound travel of the suspension.

As far as reliability, most "full" air suspension systems where the air bags support the entire vehicle weight (not those that use metallic springs with air assist shock absorbers to control height) will usually experience maintenance issues + or - 7 to 10 years out of the gate. Problems range from electronic control issues in the more complex systems to just plain old compressor or solenoid valve failures or air leaks in connections, lines, the air bags / struts themselves due to wear, weathering, aging, puncture etc. Additionally it's repair costs can be substantial often 2x to 4x $$ when compared to conventional metallic spring/strut suspension system components and often require specialized proprietary "to the manufacturer" equipment to effectively repair.

Among other potential pitfalls (the vehicle may become un-drivable if one "or more" air bags/struts develop an air leak) however the consistent ride quality regardless of vehicle loading and it's inherent nature (shock valving not withstanding) to provide a cushy "if you will" ride make it attractive.

Conversely a standard coil over arrangement can often last the life of a typical car and over it's lifetime will usually net much lower repair costs in the event of failure or wear replacement.

(Jury is still out on Model S) we need more of them in the wild to see how they perform in the hands of customers.

Hope this helps!

nickjhowe | February 10, 2013

I created the site in memory of Volker.Berlin who did an amazing job manually posting links to other threads.

It will NOT search private threads, but will search everything else. It does a customized Google search using the site:url modifier.