How To Fix Tesla Model S Suspension Problems

How To Fix Tesla Model S Suspension Problems

Scott Beaddles
13 minute read

 

Few cars made in the 21st century are as iconic as the Tesla Model S. While it wasn’t the first car Tesla produced, it was the car that brought the company into the mainstream and helped establish its place as the country’s leader in EV production. 

The award-winning Model S has been lauded for its design and performance since its release in 2012. But as the vehicles have started to age, complaints about issues with its air suspension system have become increasingly common. In this article, we go over the suspension problems Model S owners are facing, how to recognize them, and the best way to fix them.

Summary

Tesla Model S owners have increasingly been reporting problems with their vehicles’ air suspension system that can degrade its performance or even make it unsafe to drive. Fixing these issues through Tesla is an expensive endeavor that can be cost-prohibitive for many owners. Strutmasters has released an air suspension conversion kit for the Model S (2012 - 2016) that allows you to remove your failing air ride and install a brand new, ultra-reliable coilover suspension for a fraction of the cost of fixing it through Tesla.

Common Tesla Model S Suspension Problems

The Model S is outfitted with an active air suspension system that adapts to changes in the road surface and vehicle movements. It also allows the user to adjust the ride height as needed. When new, this system provides a silky smooth ride, enhanced performance, and heightened stability. However, because this system relies on a complex network of moving parts and computer-controlled components, it is prone to wearing out and eventually breaking down. 

As more Teslas have started to age and accrue miles, owners of the Model S have reported a wide range of issues with the air suspension. Some of the most commonly-reported problems include:

  • ➡️Leaking air struts: The Model S uses flexible “air bags” that inflate and deflate with pressurized gas to provide support and resistance for the vehicle. These air struts are prone to cracking, being punctured, or simply wearing out over time, resulting in air leaks that can impact the suspension system’s ability to perform its duties.

  • ➡️Faulty compressor: Your Tesla has an air compressor under the hood that generates the pressurized air needed to inflate the air springs and pushes it through the system. Model S owners have reported major issues with their suspension compressor, ranging from overworking to not working at all.

  • ➡️Control module failure: The air suspension in your Model S is controlled by a small computer called a control module or an electronic control unit (ECU). Like any other digital technology, this module can run into a wide range of errors and stop functioning as intended. This can lead to failure of the entire system.

Tesla Model S Suspension Failure

The three issues listed above are common to all vehicles with an air suspension system. But Model S owners have reported a problem that is much more rare and potentially dangerous: complete failure of the suspension while the car is in motion.

In December 2023, Reuters reported on the issue, detailing stories of Tesla owners who experienced one or more wheels completely disconnecting from the suspension and falling off of the vehicle while driving. Some of these incidents happened to vehicles with as few as 15,000 miles on the odometer. The article also notes that at the time of writing, Tesla owners had filed around 260 suspension and steering-related complaints with the NHTSA. 

In other words, you are far from the only Model S owner who has experienced or will experience suspension problems with your vehicle.

Tesla Model S Suspension Problems: Early Warning Signs

Air suspension issues tend to start small, but only get worse over time. If ignored, these issues can also cause widespread and severe damage to the rest of the vehicle. That means that the earlier you spot and fix air suspension problems in your Model S, the easier and cheaper they are to resolve and the less damage these problems do to your Tesla. 

Your car has a warning light on the instrument cluster that looks like the outline of a car with one triangle pointing up and one pointing down. When the onboard diagnostic system detects a problem with your air suspension, this light will illuminate — yellow for a minor issue and red for a severe issue that disables the system.

However, these systems may not detect suspension problems in your Model S early on. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. There are a few warning signs that your Tesla is experiencing problems with its air suspension that may not yet register with the diagnostic computer. These include:

  • ➤ Sagging: When you have a fault in your Tesla air suspension, it may no longer be able to keep the vehicle at the proper ride height. If this happens, you may notice your car sagging down at one or more corners. With the Model S, this most commonly happens with the rear end of the vehicle, but it can happen at any of its four corners.

  • ➤ Drifting or swaying: Active suspensions can adjust the resistance at individual wheels to stabilize the vehicle as it goes through turns. If you feel the body of your Model S “drifting” from the wheelbase or swaying as you turn, this is a sign that the air suspension isn’t performing as designed.

  • ➤ Loud compressor: The noise of the air compressor operating in your vehicle should be barely noticeable, if at all. But when the compressor is failing or cranking out more air than usual to compensate for a leak, you may hear it running loudly or cycling longer than it should, indicating a problem somewhere in the system.

  • ➤ Poor braking: Your suspension does much of the work of bringing your Tesla to a stop, absorbing the force of slowing the vehicle down. If your brakes and tires are in good shape but your Model S is taking a longer time and distance to stop, your air suspension is likely to blame.

How To Check Your Model S Suspension

If you suspect air ride issues with your Tesla, there is a simple, old-school way to check for yourself known as “the bounce test.” To perform this test, all you need to do is walk to each corner of the vehicle and push down hard and watch how it responds. 

A corner sitting on a healthy suspension will pop back into place and settle almost immediately. If, instead, the corner you push down takes a while to return to its resting position or bounces up and down before settling, you likely have a faulty air spring or other component at that corner.

It’s worth noting that while failing this test is a strong indicator of a problem, passing it doesn’t mean you don’t have any issues. If you suspect an air suspension problem but your Model S passes the bounce test, it’s still worth looking into more closely. 

How To Fix Tesla Model S Suspension Issues

Problems with your air ride are annoying at best and dangerous at worst, but they are ultimately fixable. You have several options on how you want to move forward once you’ve discovered an issue. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages compared to the others.

Repair Your Suspension Through Tesla

Most people’s first instinct when they have air suspension problems is to go to the dealership for repairs. As a Tesla owner, you also have access to the company’s mobile repair service. Tesla technicians will use original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts that are identical to the ones they are replacing, guaranteeing a 1:1 fit. While this method is the “official” way to service your Model S suspension, it has some notable drawbacks.

The first of those drawbacks is price. According to the Reuters article, one Tesla owner was quoted $14,000 to repair his suspension. This is mainly due to the expense of air suspension components and the cost of official Tesla labor.

It’s also worth considering that the OEM parts you’d be putting into your Model S are the same ones that broke in the first place. Given that Tesla owners have reported suspension failures as early as 15,000 miles, it’s reasonable to hesitate to trust the same parts again — especially at a premium price point.

Fix Your Model S Air Suspension With Aftermarket Parts

As air suspension failures in the Model S have become more common, third-party manufacturers have begun making replacement air suspension components for the vehicle. These parts are often of similar quality (or sometimes even superior) and can perform at the same level as OEM components at a significantly lower price point.

But using aftermarket Model S air suspension components to fix your Tesla also has some substantial downsides to consider. There are many manufacturers that make high-quality, dependable components, not all of them do. That means that unless you do a lot of research, you could end up with inferior suspension components that may not fit your Model S perfectly or don’t hold up under use.

And while you may save money on parts, you’ll still have to pay for expensive and often hard-to-find Tesla labor. Working on air suspensions is difficult and time-consuming, which translates to huge labor fees. In addition, Tesla technicians aren’t likely to use aftermarket parts, and independent mechanics who are qualified or experienced to work on your Model S can be few and far between, especially if you live outside of major urban centers.

Convert Your Tesla Model S Air Suspension

Fortunately, you have an alternative way to fix your Model S air ride that produces similar results while being significantly more affordable. In response to customer demand, Strutmasters has developed one of its signature air suspension conversion kits for the Model S.

These kits allow Tesla owners like you to get rid of their troubled air suspension altogether and replace it with a simple and dependable passive coilover suspension — all for less than the cost of replacing a single Model S air strut. At just under $2,000, you can install an entirely new suspension on your Tesla that offers long-lasting performance that rivals your stock air ride.

Recommended Solutions

Instead of a complicated web of computers, moving parts, hoses, and pressurized air, these kits sit your Model S on robust steel coil springs and struts. The engineering team at Strutmasters spent months developing this kit for the Model S, and then testing and refining it until it produced a precise fit and ideal performance. As a result, when you convert your air ride, you’ll have a brand new suspension system built to last with far fewer things that can go wrong.

Save Even More When You Convert

The Strutmasters engineers who designed this kit for fit and performance also designed it to be easy to install to make it an even better value for Model S owners. Each coilover strut comes completely assembled and loaded, meaning they’re ready to be installed with just a few nuts and bolts. 

These kits are so easy to install, many customers choose to skip the shop and do the job themselves. If you’re reasonably handy with a wrench, you can complete the installation in about one hour per wheel, or four hours total. Here’s everything you’ll need for a DIY install:

  • ➤ Sturdy jack or ramps to safely elevate the vehicle

  • ➤ Wrench set, ideally with socket wrenches

  • ➤ Tire iron

  • ➤ A well-lit space or supplemental lighting

If you prefer to trust a professional, the installation is even faster and easier for experienced technicians with shop-grade tools. That translates into fewer labor hours and a much more affordable repair bill compared to repairing or replacing air suspension components.

Tesla Model S Air Suspension Conversion Kit: What’s In the Box

The Strutmasters Model S conversion kit comes with absolutely everything you need to install it on your vehicle. Here’s what comes with your kit:

  • 1. Two (2) fully-assembled, pre-loaded coilover rear strut assemblies

  • 2. Two (2) fully-assembled, pre-loaded coilover front strut assemblies

  • 3. All mounting hardware, including nuts, washers, and bolts

  • 4. Detailed installation instructions

Strutmasters Tesla Model S Air Suspension Conversion Kit: Conclusion

The Model S conversion kit from Strutmasters isn’t just affordable, it’s a high-quality replacement you can depend on to keep you and your Tesla on the road. Since 1999, Strutmasters has been a leader in the suspension industry, building its reputation off of trustworthy products and best-in-class customer service.

Here’s what you can count on when you purchase the Tesla Model S conversion kit or any other product from Strutmasters:

  • Precise engineering: “Good enough” just isn’t good enough for us. We demand a perfect fit and top-tier performance from every component we sell.

  • Superior materials: Some manufacturers make suspension parts that may look the part but don’t stand up to the test of the road due to being made with inferior materials. At Strutmasters, we insist on top-shelf alloys, rubber, and other materials for each and every component we sell — right down to the nuts, washers, and bolts.

  • Manufacturing excellence: To ensure that every item we carry deserves the Strutmasters name, we hold our manufacturing partners to the same rigorous standards we expect of ourselves.

  • Guaranteed quality: Each product we sell comes with a limited warranty against material or manufacturing defects. This guarantees that you get the quality you’re promised and reflects our confidence in our products.

  • Dedicated support: Our customer service team is based in-house at our Roxboro, NC headquarters. Each member of our team is a specialist in providing support for suspensions and is intimately familiar with our products.

Your Tesla Model S may eventually go down in history as one of the more important vehicles of the 21st century. With a Strutmasters conversion kit, you can restore the performance that made it comfortable and fun to drive without breaking the bank. 

When you’re ready to get the best fix for your Model S suspension problems and get back to enjoying your Tesla, you can purchase your kit right here on this page. If you have any questions or need some guidance, our Suspension Experts are standing by to help. You can reach us by phone at 866-597-2397 from 8AM to 9PM Monday through Friday or 9AM to 6PM on Saturdays. We’re also available by email at customerservice@strutmasters.com.

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