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November 15, 2021

Anyone who has ever driven the Mercedes Benz W221 Airmatic will agree that it’s a different experience. It’s similar to the feel of W220, but improved suspension and added features set it apart quite a bit. Depending on the model and make, you’ll get a different package, yet they all have one thing in common – the majority of models are equipped with our beloved W221 Air ride suspension system.

Since not all of the W221 vehicles come with Airmatic, it can be frustrating to determine which type of suspension is included in your car. Don’t worry – today you’ll learn whether your buddy has the Airmatic or not, what sets it apart from the competition, and what you can do to improve its performance even more.

What is the W221 Airmatic?

W221 Air suspension relies on air valves to regulate the height of the vehicle. As a Mercedes proprietary suspension system, the Airmatic is targeted at people who want to enjoy maximum comfort while driving.

W221 air matic suspension has dedicated valves at each wheel. They contain compressed air which enables them to lift or lower the chassis of the vehicle. The majority of S-class cars include the Adaptive Damping System which can detect the conditions of the road automatically.

With the help of this sensor, your vehicle will determine whether the route is rocky or smooth and adjust the height accordingly. Such flexibility is particularly convenient for people who don’t know how to adjust the suspension of their cars.

The Airmatic enables the driver to select the suspension level themselves. For instance, if you’re someone who enjoys higher speeds, you can lower the height of the vehicle yourself to reduce the rollover risk. This means that you can tailor the specs of your Mercedes to your liking, driving habits, and preferences.

A smooth and comfortable ride is just an addition to a great package. With all these features combined, the hype around the Airmatic shouldn’t be surprising. I’m not saying that other suspension systems are bad – I’m just saying that this one is a bit more special and luxurious.

W221 Airmatic VS other suspension systems

W221 Airmatic and other options - comparison

W221 Pneumatic suspension isn’t the only type of suspension we encounter on the market. In fact, there are quite a few options depending on the weight and purpose of the vehicle. For instance, buses and trucks need reliable suspension systems that can withstand a heavy load, while other cars require comfortable and smooth types.

We could get technical and explore the differences between dependent, semi-dependent, and independent systems, however, it’s better to focus on the main suspension types we see among cars. Let’s see what distinguishes spring, hydraulic, and air suspension systems.

Spring suspension

Spring suspension uses metal springs to regulate the height of the vehicle. It includes shock absorbers to control vibrations and make the ride a bit smoother. The main advantage of spring suspension systems is that they are extremely durable and affordable.

Hydraulic suspension

Hydraulic suspension relies on four independent dampers and hydraulic liquid. By reducing or increasing the pressure, it’s possible to lift or lower the chassis of the car. The hydraulic suspension delivers a firmer ride and enables you to customize its characteristics to your liking. However, the liquid that is trapped inside this system might leak due to damage or malfunction.

Air suspension

As you already know, the air suspension uses an independent valve attached to each wheel to adjust the height of the vehicle. It uses an air strut to guarantee a smooth ride and excellent handling. Air suspension is an electronic system that can sense the condition of the road and regulate the chassis on its own.

Even though all suspension systems have the same purpose, some of them are more comfortable than others. Premium air suspension, such as W221 Airlift suspension, provides the smoothest ride among all. You’ll notice the difference right away if you do a side-by-side comparison yourself.

Which Mercedes Benz models have W221 Airmatic?

The majority of S-class models come with the Airmatic system. It’s a standard suspension system for the W221 Airmatic. However, there are a couple of exceptions, such as S 600, S 63, and S 65 AMG. As a rule, these are equipped with ABC suspension instead.

The Active Body Control (ABC) suspension is a more advanced system that uses a combination of steel springs and hydraulics to regulate the height of the chassis. It’s even more precise and offers better handling compared to the W221 Air ride suspension. If you’re planning to drive your car at high speeds and conquer fast corners, then ABC could be a better choice.

Don’t forget that you can get an optional ABC suspension on the rest of the W221 models (except for the cars that come with a 4Matic all-wheel-drive system). That’s why you can’t determine if your car has Airmatic or not solely based on exceptions. It’s better to go the extra mile and figure out the exact type of suspension on your vehicle.

How to tell if Mercedes W221 has Airmatic?

Does Mercedes W221 have Airmatic?

Instead of playing a guessing game, you could follow simple steps to figure out whether your W221 has Airmatic or not. If you own S600, S63, or S65 AMG, most likely you’re dealing with ABC suspension.

For the rest of the models, you can use the following steps to make sure you have a W221 Air suspension.

Examine the dashboard

Cars with ABC suspension usually have a button saying “ABC Sport”, while the vehicles with the Airmatic usually show a spring with arrows. You should be able to determine the type of suspension just by examining the dashboard.

Look under the hood

If you still can’t tell whether your car has Airmatic or not, you can look under the hood and search for answers there. Locate the shock absorber – if you notice separate air lines, then you’re probably looking at the air suspension. If you see black plugs that are connected to the shock absorber, the chances are you’re looking at the ABC suspension.
The second step can be a bit difficult for some – trust me, I’ve been there. Luckily, you can search pictures online and you’ll see the difference between these two right away.

Pros and cons of W221 Airmatic

Even though the W221 airmatic suspension comes really close to perfection, it isn’t flawless. It has certain perks and drawbacks that you should keep in mind before making the purchase.

The advantages of the Airmatic

  • Smooth and comfortable ride;
  • Decreased risk of rollover while driving at higher speeds;
  • The ability to adjust the height of the vehicle;
  •  that senses the condition of the road;
  • Secure ride thanks to the perfect location of the gravity center;
  • Can withstand heavier loads;

The drawbacks of the Airmatic

  • Expensive costs initially;
  • The higher price of repairs;
  • Susceptibility to leak and damage.

Even though the Airmatic isn’t perfect, it’s still more luxurious compared to other suspension systems. It offers higher flexibility and enables you to drive at higher speeds without worrying about rolling over. If you’re not satisfied with the level of customization it offers, you can always improve its performance even more. All you’ll need is a Mercedes lowering module.

Could W221 Airmatic get even better?

Yes, it can. You might think that you’ll need expensive modifications for that, but you’d be wrong. You can simply invest in the Mercedes lowering module to maximize the benefits of the W221 Pneumatic suspension.

Mercedes lowering module is a compact tool that enables you to customize the suspension level even more. You can make an adjustment or two just by scrolling through the settings. You can go even lower with this module, making sure that you can enjoy your sporty rides.

The Mercedes lowering tool has a lot of benefits that make it cost-efficient and useful for daily utilization.

Easy to install and use

The Mercedes lowering module is extremely easy to install and use. It’s compatible with OBD and universal OBD II systems, meaning that it’s a perfect match for your W221. Just plug it in, select Low or Custom modes, and tailor suspension to your own preferences. Once you’re done, you can select Factory mode and reset the settings.

Decreases the rollover risk even more

With this tool, you can decrease the rollover risk even more. It enhances the possibilities of your vehicle by allowing it to accelerate at lower suspension. If you love the adrenaline of higher speeds, then you should certainly give the lowering module a shot.

Delivers more precision and better handling

Since the Mercedes lowering module adjusts the suspension to your needs and preferences, it’s capable of delivering more precision and better handling while driving on rocky roads.

As you can see, the Mercedes lowering module turns you into the master of suspension calibration. It breaks the limits of the Airmatic and enhances its flexibility even more.


With all the information we have discussed, it’s not difficult to determine whether your car has a W221 Airlift suspension or not. Once you figure out if you have the Airmatic or not, you can invest in the Mercedes lowering module and make your ride even more enjoyable. The combination of this tool and the Airmatic means that your car will follow your desires like a charm.

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