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January 10, 2022

Thanks to technological development, air suspension installation has become relatively easier. Back in the day, the majority of available kits required you to drill holes into the system of your car. It wasn’t a problem if you had the necessary expertise. But if you didn’t, you certainly encountered the risk of ruining the whole vehicle.

Modern suspension systems are more user-friendly. If you’ve never looked under the hood of the car, you might still have a hard time figuring out what is what. But, generally, they are way less complicated than they used to be. However, the question is – is it safe to replace the suspension on your own?

Today we’ll learn what is the airlift suspension system, its pros and cons, how you can install it on your vehicle, and if it’s worth your money or not.

What is air suspension?

It’s a complex suspension system that utilizes air bellows to regulate the height of the chassis. It has been widely used for buses, trucks, and heavier vehicles, but it’s becoming more and more common among “ordinary” cars. Mercedes has been using air suspension for a while now – their Airmatic is certainly one of the smoothest ones on the market.

Aftermarket kits are gaining popularity, as well. They are quite useful in case the existing system breaks down for some reason. I always suggest using professional services for the installation of such suspension systems, however, DIY models are available for those who want to take on the task themselves.

With that being said, it could be quite hard to determine the quality when you’re purchasing the suspension system separately. Add the installation cost and risks to the equation and you’ll see that it’s better to invest in a Mercedes that already includes the renowned Airmatic.

The advantages of air suspension

Pros of air suspension

But why would someone invest in the pneumatic suspension at all? – because it offers quite a few advantages that are hard to bit. It comes down to personal preferences, however, we can’t deny the fact that air suspension offers superior performance. Let’s see what its benefits are.

Smooth, noiseless ride

Everyone who has ever driven the Mercedes S-Class will agree that these cars glide over the road no matter how bumpy it is. That’s because they have air suspension. It offers a smooth and noiseless ride thanks to the air bellows that detect the condition automatically and adjust the height of the vehicle accordingly.

Automatic height adjustment

Be it GLE SUV or CLS Coupe – they all come with an adaptive damping system. This means that their suspension is electronic, making it possible to sense the conditions of the road and regulate the chassis of the car automatically.

Remains intact even with vigorous driving

Since air suspension reduces the vibrations even with vigorous driving, it also protects the whole system and enhances its longevity.

Improves the response of trucks and heavier vehicles on bumpy roads

This type of suspension enables trucks, busses, and heavier vehicles, in general, to ride smoothly even on bumpier roads. It can easily withstand heavy load and regulate response quickly depending on the route.

Improves precision and handling

One of the main benefits of air suspension is the fact that it improves the precision and handling of the driver. It lowers the chassis during high-speed driving, which relocates the center of gravity. As a result, you have smaller chances of rollover even in fast corners.

The drawbacks of air suspension

I’d be lying if I told you that air suspension is absolutely flawless – everything on this earth has a drawback or two. What you should know is that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages here, meaning that it’s still worth your money.

Could be expensive to purchase and repair

This system can be quite expensive when you purchase it initially. If you go for a Mercedes S-class, you won’t have to worry about additional costs – Airmatic is a standard on the majority of those vehicles. However, if you purchase a kit available on the automobile aftermarket, then the chances are you’ll have to pay substantial amounts initially.

If the parts get damaged, they could be pricey to repair as well. However, if you take good care of it, I don’t think you’ll have any problems.

Susceptible to air leakage

Just like hydraulic suspension, air suspension is also susceptible to leakage. If the seals on the bellows get damaged, the air might start escaping the container. This means that the system won’t work properly – you’ll need to repair the struts or have them replaced.

Reduced fuel efficiency

Air suspension could potentially reduce the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. You see, it requires a compressor to pump the air into the whole system. This means that it needs additional power to operate properly. If you install a custom suspension, the mpg (mileage per gallon) of your car might reduce noticeably. However, there are some tips and tricks that help you to increase the mileage.

Before you start air suspension installation

As I’ve already mentioned above, I recommend getting professional services to install the air suspension system, or skipping the whole process altogether and investing in the Mercedes.

However, if you’ve decided to take care of the business yourself, this guide will help you quite a bit. Before I give you instructions on the installation itself, there are things you should do beforehand.

1. Get the necessary tools

Before you even start doing anything, you should make sure you have all the required tools on hand. You’ll need a good ol’ toolkit, the air suspension kit itself, some protection to prevent your eyes from damage, jack and jack stands, as well as some sockets and ratchet.

2. Prepare your car

Once you have everything you need, you should prepare your car for installation. First and foremost, this means wearing eye protection. Second, you should lift your car with the help of jack and jack stands. Finally, you should remove the tires.

3. Remove the old system

Depending on the kit, you’ll need to remove front or rear (sometimes both) spring struts. Obviously, it’s a necessary step because we want to free up space for the air bellows and other parts of the suspension.

4. Get ready to install the air suspension

Find some space for the compressor. It’s a crucial part of the air suspension, which means you should find a place for it. Most commonly, it’s the space where you’d keep your spare wheel in the trunk.

It’s quite easy to take things apart – it’s the assembly that requires knowledge, caution, and effort.

How to take care of air suspension installation?

As a rule, you can be done with air suspension installation in a couple of steps. However, you shouldn’t forget that this process requires the most attention. If you don’t assemble all those parts correctly, the chances of malfunction will be quite high.

That’s generally the reason why I don’t recommend installing such kits. It’s way easier and less time-consuming to purchase the Mercedes which has everything in place. Let’s go through the installation steps so that you understand what to expect.

1. Install the rear and front air struts

The first step is to install the rear, front, or both air struts. They are the parts that hold the weight of the vehicle. Depending on the type of the specific suspension kit you’re trying to install, you might have to follow different instructions. Just make sure you do everything by the book.

2. Secure the compressor and air tank

A more serious step is to install the compressor and air tank. As mentioned, you’ll probably need to install these in the space where you keep the spare wheel. The chances are the manual will tell you where and how to install these.

Remember that the compressor and air tank need to be installed correctly. Otherwise, you might ruin the whole system you spent thousands of dollars on.

3. Take care of the wiring

Another serious step is to wire the compressor with the power source and install the air lines properly. You’ll need to connect the compressor with the relay, fuse, and battery.

4. Double-check everything

Once you’re done, it’s crucial to go over each part and make sure everything is installed properly.

What risks are associated with air suspension installation?

What to know before air suspension installation

Air suspension installation might not seem complicated, but trust me, installing the suspension is a serious business. You’ll encounter a lot of risks if you decide to be a mechanic for a day and replace the whole system yourself.

You might have to drill some holes in your car

Depending on the model you get, you might be required to drill holes in your car. Modern kits don’t necessarily require this step, but you’ll still need to do some digging to install the compressor. Either way, you could damage the whole vehicle, ruin the suspension, and, as a result, waste your money.

Unpredictable expenses

If you decide to involve a professional, you can easily find one by searching “the service shop near me”. But you should remember that it’s a difficult job, which will certainly cost even more money. If the whole point of replacing the suspension on your own is to save some bucks on Mercedes, you might need to recalculate your expenses.

Malfunction in case of poor installation

Once again, the risks of malfunction are quite high if you don’t install the kit correctly. You’ll certainly make a mistake or two if it’s your first time attempting to replace the suspension. In that case, you could cause serious damage to your car.

Final Takeaway

If I’m being honest, I don’t understand why would you go through all that trouble when you can easily purchase the Mercedes with air matic suspension. That way, you won’t risk ruining the whole vehicle and wasting money on unpredictable expenses. Not to mention the time that goes into the installation process.

At the end of the day, it’s your decision to make. However, I highly suggest taking an easier route. If you go with the Mercedes air suspension, you’ll get additional benefits.

Namely, you’ll get the chance to buy the Mercedes lowering module that will give you even more flexibility. You can connect this tool via OBD or OBD II system. Unlike the installation of suspension kits, this device is completely safe to use on your own. It provides you with the ability to select low, custom, or factory modes, explore various heights and select the one that works the best for your needs. Enjoy!

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