For over a decade, Mercedes has been synonymous with an unbelievably smooth driving experience. Its popular S-class series maintains the reputation for a superior ride. This is largely due to Mercedes’ innovative AirMatic suspension system, which intelligently reacts to different road environments for a ride that is smooth and pleasurable.
In this article, we will take closer look at the AirMatic system, what it is, some of its most common faults, and how best to repair them to maintain the quality of your Mercedes.
The AirMatic system is an air-based suspension system unique to Mercedes and featured in all modern S-Class and C-class vehicles. Comprised of pressurized air, it works seamlessly with the vehicle’s on board computer to inflate and deflate, reacting to changing road surfaces. This creates an unbelievably smooth driving experience since quite literally, you are riding on air.
Before we delve into methods of diagnosis and repair, we first need to know what to look for. While the AirMatic system is highly reliable, there are some common points of failure. Being aware of these will really help when it comes to diagnosing and troubleshooting your specific AirMatic issue.
Issues with the AirMatic relay can be quite easily fixed. If you are mechanically savvy, you may be able to be repair this from home. The relay unit is housed within the compressor module and is a switch that opens and closes circuits within the compressor, allowing the compressor to pump air when needed. When this doesn’t work, the compressor can quickly become worn out.
The compressor is probably the most hard-working part of the AirMatic system, responsible for providing the suspension with the air it needs to function. It can fail because of the relay but also because of blockage, faulty wiring, or just due to natural wear and tear over time.
The valve of the AirMatic system is connected to the compressor and keeps air from returning back to the compressor. If this valve fails, then air is allowed to freely enter the compressor, putting strain upon it, and potentially causing a sagging suspension.
Probably the most annoying symptom of AirMatic failure is squeaking. These noises usually occur when your suspension shocks have failed, are worn out, or damaged.
This type of failure is probably the most noticeable, as you’ll most commonly experience a perfectly buoyant suspension on one side and a sad, sagging suspension on the other. The culprit for this imbalance is the failure of the air suspension strut. This usually occurs when poor repairs or bad installation has occurred.
This is another failure that is not too extensive. It can be patched or repaired by savvy DIYers. Similar to a drinking straw, an air suspension can be victim to holes or air leaks around the valves and connectors. This causes the system to struggle to maintain full inflation as air escapes. This problem can lead to sagging.
When it comes to diagnosing issues with the AirMatic system, unless you have mechanical experience, it may be best to leave the diagnosis and repair to the professionals. Electrical and wiring issues are trickier to diagnose, but you’ll certainly notice the effects of inconsistent air distribution and air leakage. Seek professional help to quickly solve this AirMatic problem.
The same can definitely be said for repairs. Poor or inexperienced repair jobs can lead to knock-on effects and failures throughout the AirMatic system. This can become a much more expensive and complicated repair job than was originally anticipated. While it is relatively easy to patch an air leak once it has been located, it is best to only view this as a temporary measure. Take your Mercedes to a professional shop to have it repaired properly.
If you’re looking for repairs and maintenance of your Mercedes S-class suspension, and you live in Lawndale, Culver City, West Los Angeles, and South Bay, or surrounding areas of California, Import Motorwerx will become your trusted garage. Our experienced team regularly receives five-star ratings, and with $40 off repairs of $500 or more and a 2 year/24,000 mile warranty, you will drive away happy.
* Mercedes-Benz A217 S-Class image credit goes to: DarthArt.