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Air suspension


I realize that this has been discussed previously, but I am now at the time to finalize my order. I would appreciate any current thoughts on whether or not to add this option.

My concern is primarily reliability , particularly in the southwest heat where I live. Any input would be appreciated. I especially interest in current owners of the car.

@ esb - The air suspension likely affects the feeling of the suspension compared to non-air suspension. However, the controls provided in the current Model S software only allow for raising or lowering of the car with air suspension installed. There is no option to change feel of the suspension. We do not know enough about the air suspension system to say whether such an option could be added with software only changes in the future.

@R&B - who am i to doubt one of the few folks who've actually got a Model S, but during the GetAmped events there were three settings on the controls (Sport, Normal, ...?) that I ** thought ** adjusted a couple of things (steering?) as well as suspension stiffness/response rate.

Has that setting disappeared, or does it not affect suspension?

The settings on the Controls -> Driving screen are:
Suspension: Very High, High, Standard, Low, Jack
Steering: Confort, Standard, Sport
Regenerative Braking: Standard, Low
Traction Control: Off, On

There is no adjustment for suspension stiffness that I am aware of.

I would love for a GPS-engaged high-suspension automatically. As it is now I'd have to raise the suspension (I have a very sharp, short driveway) and roll down my window, grab the driver's side mirror, fold it in (I have a narrow garage) just to park at home.

I wish the folding mirrors were powered, and I could program one button for "garage mode" that folds them in and raises the suspension, and then press it again to return to normal.

I think he was implying that the steering modes incorporated suspension differences, too. Seems possible.

I dunno that I'd trust GPS to be accurate enough for that activity.

I dunno that I'd trust GPS to be accurate enough for that activity. (Vawlkus)

Well, speed limits for the different height levels would/should still apply, obviously. Assuming that they do (and assuming that you slow down before entering your steep driveway), a slightly imprecise GPS trigger wouldn't hurt. For details on those limits, see my post from August 22 on page 1 of this thread.

I read it Volker. Maybe I'm just thinking of the older GPS that were only accurate +-30 meters. Bit of a gap there ;)

Vawlkus, while the GPS is much more precise now under ideal conditions, it may still be considerably off if the view to the satellites is less than ideal (e.g., trees, bad weather) or when there is a massive disturbing signal (e.g., cable car).

Yet, I don't see the problem: Just specify a circle of, say, 100 meters around your house. When you are approaching at speed, the air condition wouldn't raise the height, or would lower it when leaving and accelerating. But while you are maneuvering slowly within that magic circle, the car would be raised. Did I miss something?

Edit: air condition -> air suspension ;-)

@ Brian H - Yes, I agree that is seems possible for the steering modes to incorporate suspension differences. What I trying to say is that the Guide of Owners and the touch screen control selections both describe only steering differences for the Steering selection.

Instead of GPS they could use wifi network recognition. My phone does this to detect I'm home and so does my ipad. It could sense your wifi at home and raise the suspension unless you had a super long driveway

Note that normal slowing won't raise the suspension to the max. That's a manual/special option only, IIRC.

I also agree that the control for steering *could* also control suspension but I am pretty sure it doesn't right now. I have played around with it and certainly don't notice any qualitative difference in the suspension as the steering modes are changed.

As someone who has owned exotic performance cars and luxury sedans I am still very pleasantly surprised at the quality of both performance and ride comfort in their design. I was a bit worried about what ride quality would be like with the 21" rims and performance tires and find it to be more comfortable than my 2012 Audi A8 which has the non-performance rims (which I specifically chose because there *was* a significant comfort difference between the performance setup and the normal setup even though it also has air suspension).

@Volker.Berlin, "massive disturbing signal".

My friend has some jogging gizmo that uses GPS to calculate how long he has been running. Problem with that was that in that area there was some odd disturbance that put the GPS off by couple of km for few seconds every now and then. So without even leaving the house he had been running a marathon with average speed of mach two. Pretty impressive, right?

That kind of disturbance in Model S with automatic air suspension doing raising and lowering based on location would be bad. Air suspension would bounce you like frog in crack.

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 - 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 the air bags themselves due to wear, weathering, aging, etc.

All that said, I configured "with" active air suspension knowing it's potential pitfalls (one being the vehicle may become un-drivable if one "or more" air bags 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.

It should also be noted that I have yet to reserve. I've been patiently saving $$ in a dedicated account to make reservation payment / purchase. along with some financing??? options. I'm just a working stiff that's fed up with who I have to thank for the Oil I'm using. The Model S will be more $$ than I have EVER spent for ANY vehicle I've ever owned and will require considerable belt tightening to pull it off. It's on the bleeding edge of my budget but I am a believer in the technology and the need for us as a Nation to rethink what is possible in transportation and the automotive industry.

I'm trying to put my money where my mouth is.

Well said, Superliner!

I don't know about others, but I am still undecided on the air suspension option. It's the only option that is preventing me from finalizing my order for a Feb delivery, else I'll have to wait for April, which I don't really mind. Problem is, we don't have a non-air suspension to compare it to. No doubt the S without air-suspension won't ride as smooth going over uneven road and bumps, but it may be good enough and more reliable.

The fact that the car becomes "undriveable" if one or more suspension component fails due to air leak and the possible high cost of maintenance after waranty (as much as a few thousand per suspension), is making me lean toward non-air suspension.

@jhuang Did you purchase the air suspension? I'm on the fence now and can't decide.

consistent ride frequency


Load levelling is something else you can't get with coils.

I like my air suspension. I miss the auto lowering at 60MPH. But the ride is great. I do use it in parking lots with sleeping policeman (traffic bumps). I like to raise it to get in and out of the car. I think it is worth it. I didn't get leather or the pano roof but I did get the tech package.

Hope this helped. Welcome to the Tesla owners club. Enjoy. Try not to drive our wife crazy while you wait.

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