Mercedes SL550 suspension problems can turn an otherwise sporty and luxurious ride into one that’s uncomfortable, hard to handle, or even dangerous. If you’ve started to notice issues with the air suspension on your Benz, it’s important to fix them as soon as possible. But before you start shelling out thousands of dollars at the dealership, there are other options you should consider.
In this article, we explore how your Mercedes SL550 air suspension works, how it can fail, and your best options for fixing it.
With a Strutmasters Mercedes SL550 suspension conversion kit, you can eliminate your air suspension problems for a fraction of what it would cost to fix your air ride at the dealership. At $1,799, this kit allows you to replace your entire suspension with a much more reliable coilover system.
How Does the Mercedes SL550 Air Suspension Work?
The Mercedes SL550 employs what it calls the active body control (ABC) system as part of its overall air suspension. This system stabilizes the vehicle by actively responding to changes in the road and adjusting the resistance of the shocks and struts.
To do this, it uses pressurized air that inflates or deflates rubber air springs as needed. When working properly, this results in a smooth ride that offers a perfect balance of comfort and responsiveness.
Here’s a general guide to how the SL550 system works:
- Sensors at each wheel measure the ride height and report changes to a suspension computer called the electronic control unit (ECU) or control module.
- The ECU instructs the compressor on how much air to generate based on the information from the sensors.
- A specialized air compressor uses the instructions from the ECU to generate the amount of air needed and sends it to the air tank.
- At the same time, the air tank releases pressurized air into the manifold, which distributes it as needed through air hoses and into the springs.
- The air springs inflate or deflate to maintain the ride height and limit the impact of bumps and dips in the road.
Most Common SL550 Air Suspension Problems
Mercedes’ air suspension system, however, does not always work properly. A failing or malfunctioning ABC system is a regular complaint from SL550 owners. These are some of the most commonly-reported issues:
- Electrical issues: Faulty relays or blown fuses in the air suspension system are a common problem for SL550 owners.
- Leaking air spring: The air springs in the SL550 are prone to cracking or losing integrity over time, especially in colder climates.
- Failed compressor: Issues in other parts of the air suspension system can cause the compressor to overwork, often leading to early mechanical failure.
- Ride height sensor failure: As they are moving parts, the ride height sensors in your Mercedes are prone to wearing out or breaking.
Mercedes SL550 Suspension Malfunction: Early Warning Signs
The onboard diagnostic system in your Benz can detect issues in the suspension system. But it can miss smaller problems before they become more noticeable. There are a few signs you can look for that may indicate suspension problems in your SL550 before your diagnostic system can detect them.
- Long stopping: The suspension does a lot of the work of stopping your car and distributing that force. If your brakes are in good working order and your SL550 takes longer than it should to stop, you may have a bad suspension.
- Nose diving: Another stopping-related warning sign is if, when coming to a stop, the front end of your Mercedes dips down while the rear lifts up. Known as nose-diving, this is a tell-tale sign of front suspension failure.
- Leaning or sagging: This most commonly occurs in the rear end, but if any side or corner of your SL550 is sagging down lower than its proper resting height, the suspension is failing at its job.
- Loud compressor: If you can hear your compressor running loudly or for longer than usual during cycles, this is a sign that it is overworking. This could be due to a leak somewhere in the system.
- Bumpy ride: Your SL550 air suspension is meant to provide an extremely smooth ride that feels like gliding. If you’re feeling every bump, crack, or hole in the asphalt, your suspension isn’t working properly.
How to Check for Mercedes Air Suspension Problems
There is also a way to actively check for problems with your Mercedes SL550 suspension if you suspect an issue. This method, known as the bounce test, takes just a minute or two to perform and you can do it anywhere.
Go to each corner of the vehicle and press the body of the vehicle down as far as it will go. Then, observe it as it comes back up.
When shocks and struts are healthy, the body of the vehicle will pop back into place almost immediately. If it takes a long time to rise to its resting position or bounces up and down before it settles, this indicates a soft or weakened suspension at that corner.
While failing this test is an almost surefire sign of bad air shocks and struts, passing the bounce test does not mean that there isn’t a problem. If you suspect issues it’s always a good idea to have a technician inspect your air suspension.
How to Fix Mercedes SL550 Air Suspension Malfunction
Generally speaking, you have two main options when it comes to fixing a faulty SL550 suspension. The first option is to repair it by replacing your air suspension components as they break with new parts. Alternatively, you can remove the air suspension on your Mercedes and replace it with a passive coil system.
Fix Your Air Suspension at the Mercedes Dealership
Most people’s first instinct is to take their SL550 to the Mercedes service center at the dealership when they have problems. While this is a logical choice, it’s also an expensive one.
As a Mercedes owner, you probably know already that labor doesn’t come cheap—especially at the dealership. Unfortunately, the replacement air suspension components for an SL550 are also incredibly expensive.
According to RepairPal, the average cost for the parts for a Mercedes SL550 suspension shock or strut replacement is between $4,788 and $4,972. The website estimates that labor for the repair work is typically between $441 and $556, bringing the total average cost to between $5,229 and $5,528.
Air suspension components tend to wear out at about the same rate. This means that as soon as you replace one of your SL550’s shocks or struts, you’ll likely need to replace the others soon. For many people, spending this much money on an aging car just isn’t worth it, even if they can afford it.
Convert Your Mercedes SL550 Air Suspension
As we mentioned earlier, there is an alternative solution. With the new Mercedes-Benz SL550 air suspension conversion kit, you can get rid of your failing air ride and install a brand new coilover suspension in its place—for a fraction of what you’d pay for repairs.
For just $1,799, you can convert your entire SL550 suspension to a much simpler and more reliable coilover system. Rather than sensors, computers, and pressurized air, the passive coilover replacement sits your Benz on sturdy steel struts and springs.
These kits have been painstakingly engineered to replicate the feel of your original air ride when your Mercedes was still new. The Strutmasters engineering team has tuned and rated the springs to provide the ideal balance of give and resistance. As a result, you’ll have an SL550 that feels and handles like new.
The components in this kit have also been designed with an easy installation in mind. Many Strutmasters customers choose to do the installation themselves. Doing so requires just a few common hand tools, a safe and sturdy jack or set of ramps, and about an hour per wheel. A skilled mechanic can complete the installation much faster if you choose to leave it to the professionals. Either way, you’ll save a significant amount of money on labor fees compared to the dealership.
Why a Strutmasters Mercedes SL550 Suspension Conversion Kit is the Best Fix
To put it simply, when air suspension issues start to happen, they don’t stop. On top of being very expensive, repairing your Mercedes air ride is only a temporary solution. You can expect more problems in the near future.
Converting your Mercedes SL550 with a genuine Strutmasters suspension conversion kit, on the other hand, is a permanent fix. The coilover suspension that replaces your air ride is built for durability and longevity. In addition, the simplicity of the new suspension means that if you do need repairs, they’ll come much cheaper and easier.
When you consider how much time and money you’ll save and the added reliability you’ll get from the new suspension, it’s clear that a Strutmasters conversion kit is the best fix for your Mercedes SL550 air ride problems.
Here’s what you’ll get when you buy from Strutmasters:
- Meticulous engineering: Our engineers work tirelessly to design components and kits that offer a perfect fit for your vehicle and a ride that comes as close as possible to matching the original.
- Premium manufacturing: We produce our suspension components and other products at factories located in the U.S.A. Doing so allows our quality control experts to frequently check in on the manufacturers to ensure they uphold our strict quality standards.
- Quality materials: Each product we sell is made with the best materials for the job. From the struts and shocks themselves to the screws used to mount them, we put quality first in the metals and other materials we use.
- Product guarantee: We include a one-year guarantee with each component and kit we sell to ensure you get the quality suspension solution you pay for. This warranty also helps us demonstrate our confidence in our products by putting our money where our mouth is.
- Customer support: Our Suspension Experts are here to assist you before, during, and after your purchase. You can ask them for anything from help finding the right product for your vehicle to installation tips.
When you’re ready to stop throwing money away on air suspension repairs for your Mercedes SL550 and convert, you can purchase your conversion kit online. Just enter your model into the search bar and find the matching kit.
If you have any questions or would prefer to order over the phone, you can reach our Suspension Experts at 866-597-2397. You can also connect with a representative by using the chat feature on the bottom right of this page.