Mercedes’ AIRMATIC suspension delivers an almost impossibly comfortable and responsive ride — when it’s working. But problems with that active suspension system are a common complaint among Mercedes owners. That can lead to a once-enjoyable ride becoming uncomfortable and even unsafe.
In this article, we explore some of the most common problems with AIRMATIC suspensions, some methods of fixing them, a few hacks and our own solution. Keep reading to learn the best way to fix your Mercedes air suspension system.
Common Mercedes AIRMATIC Suspension Problems
With a system as complex as AIRMATIC, there is always a long list of things that can go wrong. However, Mercedes owners tend to report certain problems more than others.
Leaking AIRMATIC Strut
One of the most common Mercedes air suspension problems is a leaking air strut. As AIRMATIC systems start to age, the rubber around the strut can become brittle, cracked, or punctured. The seals and gaskets around the struts and the air lines can also wear out and cause a leak.
If left untreated, a leaking air strut can cause damage to the rest of the vehicle. This is because the AIRMATIC system will try to level itself and perform its other duties, but will need to work much harder to compensate.
AIRMATIC Air Compressor Failure
The Mercedes air compressor is what powers the AIRMATIC system. It generates compressed air and pushes it to the reserve tank and through the system to keep it inflated. The compressor is also one of the most likely components to wear out and fail.
When it’s working properly, it’s difficult to hear it running — especially over engine and road noise. So, if you hear your compressor running loudly on your Mercedes, this indicates a problem.
Moisture in the Air Compressor
Your Mercedes’ air compressor is fitted with a dryer that keeps moisture out. If this dryer stops working as well as it should, moisture can get into the compressor.
Moisture inside the compressor can quickly cause corrosion, leading to early failure. The compressor can also push this moisture into other parts of the system like the air springs, leading to more damage.
System Unable to Maintain Ride Height
One of the primary jobs of your AIRMATIC suspension is to keep your Benz at the proper ride height at all times. If it can’t do that, it’s because there’s a problem.
If your Mercedes suspension can’t keep your ride at the proper height, you may see a suspension warning light illuminate on the dash panel. At this point, your car is becoming unsafe to drive and you should have it repaired as soon as possible.
Another primary job of your Mercedes air suspension is to provide a comfortable ride. When it’s working properly, your active suspension will respond almost instantly to changes in the road surface. As a result, you should barely feel them.
If you notice that your ride feels bumpy, or you’re jostling around a lot in general, your suspension is almost certainly to blame. It’s likely you have a problem somewhere in the system.
One of the more telltale signs of a failing AIRMATIC suspension is when part of the car is sagging below its normal ride height. This happens most often in the rear of the vehicle, but it can happen at any point with an air strut.
Mercedes AIRMATIC Suspension Fixes
The best time to repair your AIRMATIC suspension is when you first start to notice problems. Delaying can only increase the chances that you do damage to other parts of your Mercedes-Benz. There are a few options to do so.
Fix AIRMATIC Suspension at the Dealership
Many people look to the Mercedes dealership first when looking to repair their air suspension. That makes sense for many reasons, but there are some downsides.
- Mercedes-certified techs: Technicians at the Mercedes dealership have been certified by the company to work on its vehicles. This means you can be confident that your tech knows their way around your AIRMATIC system.
- Mercedes-certified parts: When you have your suspension repaired at the Benz dealership, the mechanics will use only OEM replacement parts or those certified by Mercedes. This means you can count on the fit and performance of those parts.
- Expense: As a Mercedes owner you know that repairs at the dealership are always costly. The same is true for air suspensions. Put the two together and it adds up quickly. According to data from RepairPal, replacing just one AIRMATIC air spring can cost more than $2,500.
- Inconvenience: Getting a repair appointment at the Mercedes dealership is difficult these days and you may need to wait a while. In the meantime, you’ll be risking more damage to your Mercedes if you have to drive on bad shocks.
Fix AIRMATIC Suspension at Your Local Mechanic
You can also head to your preferred neighborhood repair shop for work on your air suspension. This may be a preferable option for many people, but there are still some downsides.
- Choice of parts: Your local mechanic may be willing to use aftermarket parts in your Mercedes. Many air suspension replacement components are made to the same standards as the OEM parts and usually cost significantly less.
- Personal advice: Working with a smaller mechanic shop allows you to build a relationship with the people working on your Mercedes. As they get to know you and your car, they can provide valuable advice and insight that the dealership may not have time to.
- Labor costs: It still costs a lot to work on a Mercedes, even at a smaller shop. Air suspensions like the AIRMATIC system are very complex, so they require more time in the shop for repairs.
- No guarantees: Repairing your work at the Mercedes dealership comes with a guarantee on the parts and labor. Some mechanics may offer this, but many won’t.
DIY AIRMATIC Suspension Fix
Fixing an air suspension at home has a few advantages — if you can do it right. If you can’t, your AIRMATIC system could end up even worse than when you started.
- Affordability: A DIY repair is, by far, the most cost-effective way to fix your suspension. You’ll only need to pay for parts and any additional tools you might need.
- Confidence: If you’re good at working on your car, doing the repair yourself lets you know that the job is done right. You’ll also get to know your Mercedes a little better.
- Difficulty: Air suspension work can be very tricky. Repairing your AIRMATIC suspension or replacing parts may be more difficult than you’re picturing.
- Risk: If you’re only “sort of” confident in your mechanic skills, you may want to leave it to the professionals. An improperly installed suspension can make your car very dangerous to drive.
AIRMATIC Suspension Fix Hacks
Not everyone can afford to take their Mercedes to the dealership or a shop for AIRMATIC repairs. As a result, many people have found hacks or quick fixes for their suspension. These include:
- Patching AIRMATIC air struts: If a hole or crack in your air strut is small enough, you may be able to patch it with a tire repair kit or other material. This will eventually lose its seal, however, and require fixing again.
- Splicing air supply lines: When one air supply hose gets a tear or puncture, some people have been able to splice it into another line. This will keep the air seal for a little while, but may not function as well.
- DIY link building: Some people have managed to use hardware to build their own suspension links to keep their car at the right height. However, this will provide an uncomfortable ride at best and an unsafe one at worst.
We strongly discourage using any of these hacks. While they may work for a short time, they are not a solution. Any one of them could put you in a dangerous situation.
AIRMATIC Suspension Fixes: What We Offer
At AirSuspensions.com, we only offer the highest quality AIRMATIC suspension replacement components. Here’s what we have to offer in all of the parts we sell:
- Precision engineering: All parts and kits are designed to fit your specific Mercedes perfectly. Many of our components come from the same manufacturer as the OEM parts.
- Reliable manufacturing: We only work with manufacturers with a proven track record of performance and reliability, ensuring consistent quality across our entire portfolio.
- Quality materials: It’s easy for manufacturers to pick lesser materials that look the part to save a little money. We know that your suspension is responsible for keeping you and your passengers safe, so we only carry products that use top-shelf alloys and other materials.
- Customer support: You likely won’t need us after you purchase your parts. We’ve worked to make sure of that. But if you do, know that we are here to help, either over the phone or after business hours through our chat feature.
With our quality AIRMATIC replacement parts, you can give your Mercedes the suspension it deserves without breaking the bank.