Active air suspension

Active air suspension

I've got an order in for a 85kw (not the P) w/o active air. The car I test drove was the performance so it had active air suspension. I didn't test drive one w/o active air. The lady I rode with told me she prefers w/o active air. Anyone else test drive both and have a preference? I'm upgrading from a 2002 manual honda accord so I guess either one would be way more comfortable.

sxross | 24 juillet 2013

I have a P85 with active air and it's getting some paint chips repaired so Tesla loaned me one without the active air. I personally love the active air. I feel it gives me a quieter, smoother ride and it provides one killer feature: The ability to raise the suspension so I don't get as creeped out by high parking curbs.

I'm really missing that feature in particular with this loaner -- otherwise, the loaner is great! Thanks, Tesla.

nickjhowe | 24 juillet 2013

Same as sxross. I have a P85 with air and the loaner was an S85 with regular, both on 21s. The road surface was more noticeable on the standard suspension.

Brian H | 24 juillet 2013

Upgrade to magnetic. Nicola would insist.

shao | 24 août 2013

I actually got to test drive active vs standard a couple of weeks ago. Asked to do it blinded. The first car felt really smooth, and I figured it must have had the air. I was wrong. The second car (which actually had the air) was noticeably better, but not notably better, if you know what I mean. My wife was riding in the back and didn't seem to feel a difference.

Caveat: We are not car afficionados. Just regular people who drive to work everyday.

Having said all that, I'm still on the fence as to whether or not to spring the extra $ for it. I don't see myself stopping to raise and lower the car in front of my driveway or at speed bumps in front of Home Depot, you know? If the GPS-aware suspension becomes a reality (or if there were some confirmation that this was really going to happen), I would go for it.

lolachampcar | 25 août 2013

another consideration to muddy the waters...

Coil spring cars sit 14mm higher and thus have less negative camber in the rear (tied to tire wear). If rear tire wear is a concern for you I believe your best bet would be coil springs and 19" wheels.

Pungoteague_Dave | 25 août 2013

We are also driving a P85 loaner that has a delete on the air suspension option. The window sticker in the glove box shows a $1,500 deduction - on a $102k car!

Driving both confirms that the air suspension is a "must" in our world - we have a bumpy farm access road and the air makes it a pleasure compared to any car or truck we have driven.

The standard suspension on our loaner P85 catches all the bumps, seems floaty at speed, and does not lower at highway speeds, so range is reduced. We have a big ramp-up into our driveway at our city house, and the loaner scrapes every time, something our S85 avoids by setting the suspension on "high".

Having now driven about 500 miles on a non-air car, and 7,000 on our air-suspension car, there's no question that the air is superior. Elon said something like "I can't understand why anyone would order one of these cars without the air suspension." (paraphrasing as I can't find the original quote.)

NKYTA | 25 août 2013

Just heard at the Burlingame service center that they are a bit worried about issues that can occur when you park on an uneven surface and the air suspension self levels after you walk away.

Fortunately my garage is flat, but bear that in mind when out an about.
Had a bunch of grins on the last road trip, so I'll pile them up...

:-) :-) ;-) ;-)

pebell | 26 août 2013

@PD: Interesting that Elon has said something like that. I have often wondered myself why TM would bother with making so many different suspensions ("air", "non-air","plus") for one and the same car. All those systems need to be designed, tested, probably certified, more parts are needed, parts that also need to be stocked and distributed globally coz suspensions do break, service instructions provided, it complicates the production line.. Why?? As this is their 1.0 production car, why not keep things simple, make one suspension that is the best they can do with a reasonable pricetag (which is pretty darn good) and leave it at that?

There has been tons of discussion about why TM didn't include some features that many consider "must haves" on a car in this price range, and the consensus answer is always "It's just a 1.0 car, TM can't do everything at once". I agree (to a certain extend) with those sentiments, but to me, I feel that argument should certainly have been applied to the MS suspension. The "Plus" suspension I kinda get - and it is expensive enough to feel that it is largely being paid for by the people actually ordering it. But I think that if TM would not have even offered the standard coil suspension at all, the total costs for the air suspension (which would then have been just "regular suspension") would have been quite a bit lower, for all of the reasons mentioned above.

jat | 26 août 2013

@pebell - because different people have different requirements. Aside from anything else, I need the air suspension to get into my driveway/garage without scraping (and a number of friend's driveways). So, I pretty much had to have it unless I wanted to do some major work re-profiling the driveway.

Others have said they wouldn't buy it with air suspension because they are worried about maintenance down the line.

Some have wished for stiffer suspension for performance driving, while others wouldn't want the rough ride that goes along with that.

So how do you make those groups happy without providing different options?

Also, I think there is a big difference between getting the right hardware in the car from the beginning, versus software-only features that can be added later.

pebell | 26 août 2013

@jat: I guess my assumption here was that air suspension is always superior to standard coil suspension. I reckoned that at only a $1600 price tag, with all the additional costs of desiging, testing etc etc having both systems, they could probably have done the "air suspension only" scenario at, say a mere $800 addition to the base price.

If it is indeed the case that some buyers actually prefer the standard suspension over the air suspension, that pretty much invalidates my argument.

pebell | 26 août 2013

@jat: also, I guess I didn't make it clear enough in my original post, but I meant that I wondered why bothering with designing a "standard coil" suspension if the air suspension is not _that_ much more expensive.

In my mind I compared it with offering the MS with a half-size touchscreen to save a few bucks - at the expense of having to design and produce a whole different dashboard for it.

Pungoteague_Dave | 26 août 2013

All of the luxury car companies offer suspension alternatives on all of their models - MB has adaptive air suspension as an option & just added a new system with forward looking cameras that not only can respond to the road like on their existing cars and our Model S, but can now see road conditions and bumps ahead and deal with them through suspension adjustments before the condition is reached.

Every model of BMW has at least two suspension alternatives (although no air that I know of). It really isn't that hard... although having owned several high end cars with low profile tires and sport suspensions - never again. Sport suspensions in a luxury car are an oxymoron in my opinion - they makes a luxury car into a schizophrenic compromise. Nice, quiet, great sound system, beautiful interior, but can feel every bump in the road. No thanks, if I want that I will drive my C4S or one of our motorcycles.

Teslagator | 26 août 2013

I was sure I needed to order the air suspension due to my steep driveway. However when test driving a P85 w air suspension I punched it and felt noticeable body shifting almost like torque steer and promptly decided against it, especially since getting it requires buying the $3500 Tech Package. Did a 'driveway test' with a P85 at standard height and am having 2 feet of concrete removed and flattened for $500 to solve the issue. I also could have just driven in on an angle like my wife does with her 300C Hemi that scrapes if you don't, but the concrete fix is pretty easy and far cheaper. I am used to the tight spring of a BMW 335i so maybe thats why the air suspension feels too wobbly to me.

amish.bhatia | 26 août 2013

Don't know if my car will be getting this feature as I've requested it late and I am unsure if they can still add it into the process, but any idea what the maintenance on this would be after a year or so (or a few years) ? I'm hoping its covered and seems like one of the more risky options to put into the car. Before the price increase this past month, what was the price of Active air suspension?

Pungoteague_Dave | 27 août 2013

Amazing that people won't buy the active air because of maintenance cost concerns. Really? Perhaps the Model S isn't the car for them - we are buying a car with a BATTERY and COMPUTERS as its core technology, all new, custom-designed, and unprecedented in the history of automotive design. Yet we worry about an active air suspension system that is tested and proven technology, sourced from a major supplier with significant experience over many years?

Yes, active air systems in the '90's were new and some had problems, bad enough that some owners replaced them with regular shocks. Those experiences are old news, and the systems installed in more recent cars, including many Mercedes, Land Rovers, and other manufacturers, have not had significant repair histories. I had three vehicles with active air before buying the Model S, and never had a moment's issue. OTOH, the active suspension on my BMW K1600GTL motorcycle has had to be repaired several times...

There is an easy solution if you do eventually have problems with the active air system and regret getting it. Replace it with the standard shocks. They bolt right on, no modifications except perhaps a software update. For $1,500, it seems like the best value in Model S options - it is certainly one of the most transformative in terms of how the car behaves in daily driving.

Our experience may be unique, but we nearly could not live without it seeing how our loaner scrapes into our driveway. We can avoid that by approaching at an oblique angle on the wrong side of the road, but the High setting solves all, and when GPS-enabled, will be another one of those gee-whiz features that we love about these cars.

Bernard Hong | 27 août 2013

+1 Pungoteague_Dave. I was having the same issue getting the Air or not and the price jumped from $1500 to $2250 while I was debating to myself but after considering the comfort and needs, which I think it will be a good option raising the height driving in the winter time in the snowing country, I decided to option that and have confident with it. I agreed tp P_dave that your are buying a future car with ipad control, electric motor and you lost confident on Active Air? Just my 2 cents

RZitrin1 | 27 août 2013

NKYTA, I live on an SF hill and had this problem early on in mine. The service center and I realized you just have to re-level it on the surface. When you're on different levels on a grade or partial grade, it appears that the car is off-kilter. Just get it flat and change the suspension level and drive off. All will be good.


amish.bhatia | 27 août 2013

I'm on the "old" pricing plan and just added it :) -- Glad i'm not paying $750 more hehe.... funny how stingy i'm being with a 80K car....

NKYTA | 27 août 2013

@ rzitrin, nice, thanks for the info!

DonS | 27 août 2013

Air suspension has a big advantage that has nothing to do with the ride. The headlights are very bright and are aimed (in theory) to cutoff just below the windshield of oncoming traffic. If you fill up the back with suitcases, the air suspension keeps the care level regardless of the load.

Brian H | 28 août 2013

Very cogently put.