Optional Air Suspension System

Optional Air Suspension System

Will be ordering my Model S in a few months. Test drove one the other day that had the optional air suspension, really couldn't detect that much difference in the various settings. Not sure I need the option, won't be driving in snow, driveway is flat, and majority of my driving will be in and around town. Those that have the option, what is your feedback on the necessity of the system?

bostoncde | 15/03/2013

One thing to think about is they haven't started delivery of any models without the air suspension. I reserved 60KWH with standard suspension in Dec 2012 and am looking at a delivery timeframe of May-June. Air suspension would give me much quicker delivery, but didn't feel the need for the additional $1500. Had to draw the line somewhere.

Noah.S | 15/03/2013

I've seen several posts where people use the system quite a bit to get onto high driveways. I think there might also be a slight range improvement as it goes into a more aerodynamic angle at highway speeds.

diegoPasadena | 15/03/2013

I was impressed with the air suspension during my test drive, and I didn't have a chance to drive the car with a standard one (because they don't exist yet). So I opted to get the "known quantity".

I think there might be significant benefits beyond high driveways: Aerodynamics are vastly improved at higher speed, because the car goes into its lowest position automatically once it reaches a certain speed. A standard suspension wouldn't do that, and that affects range, and I'm guessing more than by just a trivial amount.

The air suspension is active, and while I don't know much about its ins and outs, I can tell you that the car sits in the turns better and flatter than any car I've driven before. Even my sports cars have had more body roll than the Model S. Part of that is, of course, the low center of gravity, but the active suspension might have a big part in that as well.

Yes, $1500 is not a small about. But I intend to have this car for a *long, long* time, and in that context, I found it well worth the cost.

riceuguy | 15/03/2013

I recently added air suspension to my configuration entirely to speed up delivery, but yesterday I realized how useful it will be when I noted that my not-so-low ICE almost scrapes my driveway, and then nearly had my front air dam pulled off by rebar sticking out of a parking block at a restaurant. I am pretty sure that would have been really bad in the Tesla without air (though remembering to raise the car is another story!).

bp | 15/03/2013

When pulling into a parking space with a curb or a tire stop, I will put the suspension in "Very High" to minimize the risk of hitting the front rubber bumper or scraping the underside of the car.

It only takes a moment for the car to raise - which I'll do as I'm pulling into the spot. And the car will automatically lower to standard when pulling away from the parking spot.

Plus, the car does lower at highway speeds, which may help energy consumption a little.

rsusi | 16/03/2013

Thanks for the advice. Like the idea of rising the car when pulling into parking spaces that have a curb, hate scraping my current cars.

Consumer reports have had their Model S for several weeks now. The previous report on a borrowed Model S last fall was very positive and initial reports are again favorable. Will be interested to find out more when their testing is complete in a month or so, specifically the issue of the air suspension system. But right now if Tesla calls and tells me it's time to place my final order, I am leaning toward getting the air suspension.

This Monday, April 18, I'm doing a Tesla factory tour and am excited about that. Particularly want to see what the new Red color looks like.

Brian H | 16/03/2013

March 18? April doesn't have a Mon. 18th. this year.

bostoncde | 16/03/2013

I was told Air suspension raises the car only 1 inch, if so that doesn't seem like it would do much difference for a driveway or snow.

sftesla | 16/03/2013

I believe that the very high setting is 1.3 inches higher than the standard setting - 7.3 inches vs 6 inches. It might not sound like much, but it makes a difference. My old Prius used to scrape the driveway climbing up off the street and going down into the garage. The Model S has never had a problem except for the one time I forgot to change the setting. I won't make that mistake again.

AndrewB | 16/03/2013

Also remember the air suspension lowers at highway speeds, which provides better aero, thus better mileage

bp | 17/03/2013

The air suspension is also useful in getting a little more clearance over tall speed bumps. While it may be safe to have the car bottom out over a speed bump - I really don't want to test that - and risk damaging the battery pack...

drp | 17/03/2013

Diego +1
I have it and glad I do but it was dumb luck for me. Magic carpet ride on the express way too. Too many poor slopes at business driveways etc. 0.24 drag coefficient.

lolachampcar | 17/03/2013

I would add one comment-
The MS dampers look a lot like MB units. The MB airbags are known maintenance items and are not inexpensive nor are the pumps, ride height sensors and control unit. Of course this is not an issue if you have extended warranty or will not be keeping your car past four years. Lastly, there is a shop on the west coast of Florida that is a cost effective source for rebuilding the dampers although this option will not be needed for MS for at least four years.

bsimoes | 17/03/2013

I had ordered this feature for all of the reasons above. My question is about how to reset it on the fly. If I'm turning into a friend's driveway from the main road with another car right on my tail, how easy and quick is it to reset the height?

deanes | 17/03/2013

I did not order the air suspension and just yesterday received a call from Tesla that my MS is enroute to Toronto for inspection. I expect to have it here in 2 weeks so I may be one of the early test subjects. From my monitoring of the various forums here I can tell you that the air suspension option, while important to many, was often chosen because it allowed people to get their cars sooner.

As I live on the prairies I really didn't see the need for the air suspension. The speed bump and parking stall stops are things I didn't really take into account when I opted to not get the air suspension. I guess only time will tell.

I can't wait to get the car but unfortunately I will probably have to keep it in the garage until spring shows up here.

lolachampcar | 17/03/2013

until spring :(

deanes | 17/03/2013

Actually until the weather and snow and ice disappear. Spring is technically on Wednesday. It will be an exercise in self restraint but since I made my reservation in April 2011 I figure what the heck another 4 weeks.

Thanks for the support. I will at least have the opportunity to get well acquainted with the car.

Thumper | 17/03/2013

bsimoes asked if suspension can be reset on the fly. Answer is yes if you are going under 20 mph.

Robert22 | 17/03/2013

Under 20 AND the road is smooth and not irregular. The suspension won't reset if the tires are moving and at different heights. I learned this the hard way by driving on recently plowed roads with a firm snow pack. If the tires are bobbing around you'll get the "flywheel" progress graphic but the car won't rise even at sub 20 mph speeds. I would need to either stop for minute, or find a smooth stretch of pavement to raise or lower the car. It was during one of these periods where I couldn't raise the car that snow buildup in the wheelwell popped off one corner of my left front fender.

torst1 | 17/03/2013

I have had 2 MB's with airmatic, one with 150K km and I have never had any problems. I do know there have been issues, and people have had problems. But I believe it was the first years of airmatic, and that problems was solved be launch of w211 in 2003. Also driving like a tool across speed dumps or high curbs might cause damages but for normal use I would said it is no problem even if Tesla use the same brand as MB does. The added comfort and convenience outweigh any doubt as far as I know based on close to 10 years experience with different airsuspensioned cars.

diegoPasadena | 17/03/2013

Resetting the suspension on the fly can be done, but this is where I become cautious. There is so much we can do with this screen, but controlling these settings while driving is more of a distraction than just tuning the radio. Not as much as texting, but it does require looking away for what might be a dangerous amount of time.
I've had the car for a month now, and found myself doing more and more with the display. I don't know where the threshold between routine and dangerous is, and I don't want to find out. So, just a few days ago I pledged to myself not to do these things, even if I can. Eventually, all these controls may be second nature, but until then I won't adjust anything I don't absolutely have to while I drive.
And really, what *is* there that must be adjusted? Set it before you start driving, and then just enjoy the simplicity of one-pedal motoring.

procarl | 17/03/2013


What was your reservation and/or configure date? Interested in that I have also ordered an non air suspension car and am waiting for delivery.



procarl | 17/03/2013


Sorry, just noticed you had already answered my question


danielccc | 17/03/2013

Can the suspension be raised with location?

If not, an option like "Always set this height at this location" would be useful I think, or something like that.

rsusi | 18/03/2013

Did the factory tour today and was impressed with the automation and what appears to be a real concern with putting out a quality product. Along with us were several individuals that were there to pick up the Model S, as well as a number of individuals who had already received there Model S in the previous month or so and had not done a factory before. Nothing but praise from the current owners. So I finalized my when I got home, and did get the air suspension system.

The new color red was not coming off the production line yet, most likely not till April. So we went with the pearl white.

DouglasR | 18/03/2013


A bit OT, but are they now scheduling tours for people who ask? I had previously wanted a tour as a reservation holder, but they were then limiting tours to people picking up at the factory. I would really love to do it next time I am in California.

dbourne | 19/03/2013

@danielccc . That is an AWESOME suggestion. I would love it if when I approached my driveway the suspension automatically went to HIGH. It would save me an step since I have to also tap the Homelink button on the touchscreen

Brian H | 19/03/2013

As of about 3 days ago, standard suspension deliveries began, per post in TMC:

rroonnbb | 19/03/2013

yeah, big +1 on the suggestion to raise by location. Is this on the global list that's being kept?

I'm pretty much resigned to scraping it half the time I come out of my garage. Afraid to see how bad the undercarriage already is after only a few weeks... :-(

Brian H | 19/03/2013

It's heavily reinforced. Probably minor scraping of the "rails".

Steve_W | 20/03/2013

My driveway is on an incline. the first time i exited the driveway on the standard setting, the car scraped the bottom. Setting the suspension to very high eliminated this. Once you start driving above a certain speed, the air suspension automatically lowers the car. Also, it does a very good job of eliminating bumps in the road. I am pleased the car came with it.

rsusi | 20/03/2013

Issue concerning factory tours. It is not easy to get a tour unless you have paid your deposit and talked to one of the sales people at the show room. When I had previously called the factory a couple of weeks earlier they said no tours! I then paid my deposit, but had not ordered yet, and did a test drive at the Menlo Park service center. It was there that the sales person was able to call the factory rep in charge of tours and get me scheduled. They do them from Monday-Thursday at 11am and 1pm. And on occasion they will do them on Saturdays by special arrangement.It runs for about an hour, very informative. They drive you through the factory in a tram like vehicle. You are pretty much on the tram the whole way with stops along the way where you remain in the tram but get an explanation as to what you are seeing. There is one 10 min stop or so where you do leave the tram and spend some time in an overhead platform viewing the production below.

There is an excellent 45 minute video put out by National Geographic called Mega Factories and it is about the Tesla product and factory. You can see it on utube. I highly recommend it, we didn't see it till after the tour, as it was recommended by someone on the tour.