The Audi A8 of the 2000s brought the car manufacturer to the forefront of the foreign luxury car market in the United States. With a combination of luxury and performance that rivaled the “other” German brands, Audi broke through and became a major player.
Part of the car’s luxury appeal was its sophisticated air suspension system. While providing an excellent ride, like all air suspensions it suffers from longevity issues. This has left owners with few good options for maintaining their Audi’s ride quality. The A8s from this time had several common issues that affected their suspension performance.
Common Audi A8 Suspension Problems
Although the air suspension system provides a smooth ride when it works properly, it's prone to fail before the rest of the car. Here are the four most common Audi A8 air suspension faults you might experience.
1. Faulty Control Module
The Audi A8’s air suspension is controlled by an electronic control module. The control module is a small computer that reads electronic signals from the car's sensors to determine how much air pressure to apply to each shock. Like all electronic parts, the control module is prone to occasional software issues and malfunctions.
Some signs that the control module is malfunctioning include:
- Uneven ride height
- Bumpy ride quality
- Over- or under-inflated air springs
- Illuminated dashboard warning light
If the air pressure sensor malfunctions, the control module may shut down your entire suspension system. That's why it's so important to take care of these issues as soon as possible.
2. Leaky A8 Air Springs
Flexible materials like plastic or rubber allow your air springs to properly cushion your ride, but they're also less sturdy than metal parts.
The air springs bear the full weight of the car over tens of thousands of miles, so they're destined to wear out eventually — usually well before the 100,000-mile mark. If you keep your car in a cold or dry environment, these springs may wear out even sooner.
Here are some signs that you may be dealing with damaged springs:
- Sagging suspension on one or both ends of the car
- Reduced shock absorption
- Abnormally long airbag inflation time
- Strange noises coming from the suspension
- Vibrating steering wheel
If you notice any of the above, it's best to inspect your car right away to prevent further damage to the rest of your suspension system.
3. Punctures or Tears in the Air Lines
Your A8 uses pneumatic air lines made of flexible plastic or rubber tubing to carry pressurized air from the compressor to the air springs. These materials are particularly prone to damage from nicks or cuts.
No matter where you live, road debris is just part of the life of a driver. While it's common for small pieces of rock or glass to puncture an air line, this problem is easy to overlook.
Hissing or other abnormal noises coming from the suspension system can indicate a leaking air line. Leaving this problem untreated will cause the compressor to work overtime to keep the air springs inflated, which can cause early compressor failure.
4. Worn Out Compressor
The compressor is a small engine that generates pressurized air to pump up your air springs. It's made up of tiny moving parts — like all delicate mechanical systems, it will eventually wear out.
Additionally, when other parts of the air suspension start to fail, it is usually the compressor that picks up the slack. This added load makes it more susceptible to early failure, which can be dangerous.
Some signs you may be dealing with a failing compressor include:
- Lower ride height
- Abnormally long air-up time
- Strange grinding, clicking or whining noises
- Bouncier ride
Audi A8 Air Suspension Reset
One way you can try treating the problem is by resetting the suspension system from the car's computer.
- Lower the car: Secure all four corners of the car on jacks, placing blocks of hardwood underneath for support. Loosen the Voss fittings at the valve block and allow the air to release slowly from the airbags. Then, carefully lower the entire car onto the hardwood blocks.
- Remove rubber caps: Take out the rear rubber caps, which are behind the rear longitudinal spars. Close the Voss fittings to their original tightness.
- Adjust suspension settings: Turn the car on and turn the VCDS to adjust mode. Using the click wheel in the center console, erase all existing suspension settings and program the current level as level one. Turn the car off.
- Confirm adjustment: Start the car and inflate the system through the VCDS. Then, select level two from the console — it should inflate to the correct height.
Resetting the suspension usually only solves minor suspension problems. If you perform the reset and still experience issues, you may need to perform repairs. You'll need to run diagnostics to find the root cause of the issue, which involves two steps:
- Check for fault codes: Look for any fault codes that appear in the car's computer to determine the problem. For example, Audi trouble code C10C800 indicates a malfunctioning air suspension sensor.
- Run diagnostics: Inspect the area using wire probes to run more intensive diagnostics. Cycling the key and listening for strange noises can also help you determine what's causing the problem.
This kind of advanced diagnostics requires specialized materials, so it may not be possible for most Audi owners. It's best to bring your car in to a professional if you think you're dealing with a serious issue.
Fixing Your Audi A8 Air Suspension Problems
If you're experiencing suspension problems, you have a few potential solutions. Here are the two best choices.
Replacing the Entire Suspension System
While you can choose to fix each component of your Audi A8’s failing air suspension, this method is usually very expensive. The compressor alone may cost more than $2,000 — and that's just for the part. Add the cost of labor, and you're looking at spending nearly $2,500.
It may seem tempting to spend just a few hundred dollars here to replace one of the air struts and hold on to that air ride. However, because the system is so interconnected, once one component starts to fail, the rest are sure to follow.
Converting to a Coil Spring Suspension
Coil spring conversion kits are a far more affordable option for most people looking to get rid of their faulty Audi A8 suspension systems. With a Strutmasters Audi A8 4 Wheel conversion kit, you can rid yourself of that troublesome air suspension for good by replacing it with a brand new, durable coil spring suspension.
We specially tune all Strutmasters kits for each vehicle, and our Audi A8 kit is no exception. Our patented Glide Ride technology ensures a smooth ride comparable to your original air suspension. Best of all, it costs a fraction of the price — with one of our kits, you can replace your entire suspension for less than $1,500. That’s thousands less than it would cost to repair or replace the air suspension at the dealer.