Air Suspension Issues Explained(+7 Troubleshooting Tips)

In this brief article we are going to discuss the different kinds of Air Suspension issues, what the causes are, and how these issues can be effectively dealt with.

When it comes to the ultimate in ride quality, it is only possible by having an air suspension in your vehicle. All high-end models from brands like Mercedes, Land Rovers, Audi, BMW, Bentley, etc. have air suspension. Not surprisingly, these models also boast of providing their customers with the best quality that anyone could offer.

Unlike conventional steel suspension systems, the air suspension systems are technologically advanced, and are powered systems that draw from the vehicle’s engine. In order for the suspension to work in the intended way, there should be no interruptions in the air suspension system function. Therefore air suspension system issues are somewhat different from steel suspensions and are somewhat a bit tricky to handle.

What are the symptoms of Air suspension issues?

The most common Air suspension symptoms of failure are:

  • Vehicle riding lower than normal

One among the most common initial symptoms of a problematic air suspension. The car rides significantly lower than normal vehicle ride height. Air suspension systems are powered by pressurized air from a compressor. A compressor malfunction will result in it not being able to provide the correct air pressure required to inflate the air springs. As a result the vehicle would sit and ride significantly lower. 

  • Abnormal noise during functioning

One of the most obvious symptoms of a defective compressor is abnormal noises during operation. Sounds, such as excessively loud clicking, whining, or grinding, may be due to a problem with the compressor’s motor or fan. If the compressor continues to operate with abnormal sounds, it may eventually fail. When the compressor fails, the system loses pressure resulting in deflated air springs and the vehicle will have a disabled suspension.

  • The compressor not turning on

Another symptom of a serious compressor issue is that it does not turn on at all even when the vehicle is running. Most air suspension systems are pressure-regulated and will automatically turn on and turn off the compressor as per the system’s pressure requirements. The suspension system Air Suspension cannot work without a compressor. A compressor that is failing to turn on at all, is a sign that it has either failed or is faulty.

  • Display Error Messages like:

‘AIR SUSPENSION FAILURE: VISIT WORKSHOP.’ In this case, If you get this message in the display, then the problem could be most likely due to an electrical fault. 

  • Error Messages like:

 ‘STOP: VEHICLE TOO LOW’.  This is to indicate that your car’s Air suspension has lost almost all of its air pressure. In several cases the car may not even be driveable. 

Can you drive with a broken Air Suspension?

Yes, you can drive with a malfunctioning Air Suspension, depending on the severity of the problem. If the car displays an error message like ‘AIR SUSPENSION FAILURE: VISIT WORKSHOP’, there is a chance that this failure could be due to an electrical fault in the system. If your car, at this point, is still maintaining normal ride height then your problem is not too severe. You still do have time to drive and get the car looked at by a competent person.

But if your car has severely dropped in ride height, then your car’s air suspension problem is actually a lot more severe. What this means is that your air suspension system has lost air pressure due maybe a leakage or compressor failure or any other system failure. 

So the car’s air springs are not functioning and it is now riding on the auxiliary springs, also called bump-stops. If you now try and drive the car in this condition, all the road impacts would directly hit the body with no isolation coming from springs. This could result in severe damages to the shocks, bump-stops as well as the car body at the suspension mounting points.

What causes Air Suspension System Failure?(+5 Troubleshooting Tips)

You can deal with Air Suspension System Failure by first finding out the root cause.

There are three probable causes for the failure of your Air Suspension System:

  • Air Compressor Failure

The main symptom of this kind of failure is that the vehicle would be sitting low and not able to raise itself again. The probable causes for this type of failure are:  

  • leakages in the air lines, 
  • airflow blockages leading to loss the of minimum pressure required to allow air suspension functioning, or 
  • Burn-out of the Compressor motor
  • Air Spring Failure

The main symptom is the vehicle would be sitting lower and at an uneven height while driving. The most probable cause would be damage to one or of the Air Springs due to external impact or due to wear out, which led to a leakage and loss of air pressure.

  • Blown fuses 

A Bumpier than usual ride is the main symptom of this sort of failure. It could happen due to either a voltage surge in the circuit or just simply due to age. It might also indicate other general electric problems in your car.

  • Air Suspension Relay Problems:

The relay opens and closes electronic circuits. Through this, it controls the Air Suspension compressor. Occasionally, a relay could fail due to loads over longer periods while engaging with the compressor.

  • Air Suspension Valve Block:

If there happens to be an Air Suspension Valve block, then air can leak back into the compressor and then potentially damage the compressor itself.

  • Air Suspension Shock Failure:

If the Air Suspension Shock has failed it could lead to dislodging of internal components and subsequent squeaking noises when the vehicle runs. This could be either due to:

  • A part defect
  • Incorrect assembly of the suspension
  • Shock has reached its end-of-life
  • Leakages in the Air Lines:

There is a possibility of leakage at any of the connection points within the Air circuit. You can easily identify the points of leakage by spraying soap and water all over the entire air circuit lines and then observing for the appearance of bubbles.

  • Excessive Moisture in the System

The compressed air within an air suspension system is drawn from the atmosphere which contains moisture. In the compression process, this moisture condenses and can get collected as water, leading to severe damage. 

The root cause for this is a malfunctioning air dryer. An air dryer is designed to take out moisture from compressed air. Excessive moisture in the compressed air due to a malfunctioning air dryer could result in rust and corrosion.

To check if there is too much moisture in the compressed air, visually observe the suspension system for physical damage like rust. Excessive moisture affects the self-leveling capability of the suspension and also the overall suspension performance. 

Typical indications of excessive moisture are the car riding lower and the car sitting low when it is parked.

Conclusion

In this brief article we have discussed the different Mercedes Suspension issues including Air Suspension Suspension, what the causes are, and how these issues could be effectively dealt with.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): 

 

How much does it cost to fix the Air Suspension suspension?

Let’s take Mercedes as an example. The Air Suspension spring replacement should cost around $1,500. The labor involved might cost around $220

The cost of a Mercedes Active Suspension Air Compressor Replacement should be around $1,200.

What happens when the air suspension fails?

When the air suspension fails the Air suspension systems compressor will not be able to provide the correct air pressure required to inflate the air springs. As a result, the vehicle would sit and ride significantly lower. Or even worse, the car could be literally riding on the Bump-stops.

 

 

How long does it take to fix the air suspension?

For a competent professional, a basic installation of most car air suspension kits will take 8-10 hours. In a majority of cases, the suspension components would mount straight away just like their OEM counterparts. For installing the compressor/tank/manifold/wiring/air line configuration the time required could vary.

 

Leave a Comment