Questions for owners about heights with the iar suspension.

Questions for owners about heights with the iar suspension.

I realize there has been many threads about air suspension reliability but none answered the questions I will pose. Because I am a professional mechanic and I like to keep things reliable and simple, I am tempted to avoid the air suspension. I may want to keep this car long term. Standard suspension is very simple, and easy to repair(rarely needs repair)/ modify. Air suspension will likely need replacement or repair at some point and the price will be much more than the $1500 you are now spending for the option. Some amounts I have seen people pay are in the thousands of dollars for repair. I would expect/hope, though we can not try it now, that Telsa will do a very nice job designing a traditional suspension.

I found this excerpt on the tesla club site:

Normal height = 6”
High Level 1 = 0.90” taller; When the vehicle accelerates above 19 mph, the clearance adjusts back to Normal height.
High level 2 = 1.3” above Standard and can be used for ascending a steep driveway or fording deep snow. Clearance reverts to High Level 1 above 10 mph.
Low Level = 0.79” under Standard; Active Air Suspension will automatically lower the vehicle for highway driving to improve aerodynamics. Low Level is also accessible from the touchscreen for loading/unloading of passengers. When the vehicle begins driving the clearance adjusts back to Normal height.

I must finalize my S this week. I like the low height the car looks in all the pictures I see.. My QUESTION is this to you whom already have the car: When the car is parked is it automatically at "low level"? At normal around town speeds, is the car adjusting itself back to "normal" level? Can a person adjust the car to "low" at around town speeds or only at hwy speeds? Would you say the usual pics I see of the S driving on the road are "normal" height?

Mark22 | February 4, 2013

No, the car at rest is, I believe at high level. This is to make getting in and out of the car easier.
It may be at normal level, most definitely not low though.
I like the air suspension and I don't think it will be as unreliable or expensive as you do.
However, my opinion is simply a guess as yours is.
Question for you, the cars you have seen that needed expensive repairs, were they cars than tend to cost a lot to repair anything on (BMW, Mercedes, etc)?

Mark22 | February 4, 2013

Ok, scratch the first part of my earlier post, I apparently had that backwards.

Thumper | February 4, 2013

Before I even ordered the car, I was quite worried about ground clearance. That is why I ordered the air suspension. Having had the car for a month, I have only raised it once to go over some particularly ugly speed bumps. I had my wife drive it super slowly over our driveway pitch to check it when we first got it. It clears in standard height. Now we just leave it in standard and let the car lower itself on the highway. Other than that, I haven't really tested it.

Theresa | February 4, 2013

I haven't watched closely but I know that if the car starts at the highest level as you go up in speed it will lower at certain breakpoints which I think are 5, 15, and 55 mph to go from very high to high to normal to low. But it will never return to high or very high unless you manually do it. This part I am not sure about though--When you get below 55 (roughly) it goes back to normal.

jat | February 4, 2013

@Theresa - I believe the low=>std transition is when you drop below 50mph, so it has hysteresis of 5mph.

The left side of the entrance to my garage has a steep slope, so if I don't raise the suspension to at least high it will scrub there. One of my friends also has a very steep driveway, so I am sure I will need it there as well.

generubin | February 4, 2013

The beauty of an electric car is its simplicity vs an ICE engine. I may just stick with my preference to keep it simple and wait for the non-air suspension. Also with non-air suspension there will likely be wonderful choices in aftermarket springs and shocks such as from Bilstein and Koni which can bring your suspension back to life as the years go by for chump change, compared to what a rebuild of the air suspension will cost you. Again, as a pro-mechanic, I prefer not to use a complicated way to achieve a simple task.

roofmonkey | February 4, 2013

I also opted for the standard suspension. As I don't "plan" to drive my Model S in the winter. When I heard that even though I opted for the 85Kw and many other bells and whistles the lack of the air suspension option would put me further down the delivery list I was a little dissapointed, but I feel it was one option I really didn't need.

Your comments about the lower cost of replacement springs and shocks does make me feel better about the wait.

dstiavnicky | February 4, 2013

I opted for standard suspension simply because I'm well aware of how good you can make the suspension with aftermarket gas pressure shocks and high-quality springs.
I've had many classic hot-rods and older american 'boats' made into great riding / handling machines. (Given the size and weight of some of them...)

As far as the 'snow clearance' of raising it 1.2 inches... just not enough to make a difference in any real snowfall...

generubin | February 4, 2013

@dstiavnicky, I am expecting Tesla will make an excellent standard suspension. Maybe so good it can't be improved upon. I just prefer knowing a possible needed rebuild would be in the hundreds of dollars rather than thousands of dollars. I expect to keep the car well after warranty and hopefully even after extended warranty.