Magnetic Ride Control vs Air Suspension

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The magnetic ride control vs air suspension debate has been a hot topic in the automotive world, with enthusiasts and experts weighing the pros and cons of each system. So, how do they compare in real life, and what are the differences? 

At their core, magnetic ride control suspension harnesses the power of electromagnets to continuously adjust damping levels for a smooth yet dynamic ride quality. On the other hand, air suspension relies on compressed air to provide adjustable height and improved load-carrying capabilities. 

However, they also differ from each other in terms of performance characteristics, and maintenance requirements. Whether you’re a car enthusiast or simply curious about automotive innovations, understanding the disparities between magnetic ride and air suspension is sure to pique your interest in this fascinating realm of vehicular engineering. So, let’s explore them in detail. 

What is Magnetic Ride Control Suspension?

Magnetic Ride Control

Magnetic Ride Control Suspension, also known as MagneRide, often seen in high-performance vehicles, operates through a combination of magnetic technology and sophisticated control systems. Using electromagnetically controlled fluid within the shock absorbers, this suspension system can adjust its damping levels in real-time. 

When an electrical current is applied to the fluid, its viscosity changes, allowing for swift adjustments to the vehicle’s ride characteristics without compromising on comfort.

The key to Magnetic Ride Control Suspension’s effectiveness lies in its ability to respond swiftly to changing road conditions. By continuously analyzing inputs from sensors that detect wheel movement and body motion, the system can make split-second adjustments that enhance both handling and ride smoothness. 

What is Air Suspension? 

Air Suspension

Air suspension is a sophisticated system that replaces traditional coil or leaf spring setups in vehicles. It utilizes air-filled rubber bags, also known as air springs, to provide adjustable support and cushioning to the vehicle’s chassis. 

This allows for a smoother ride and better handling, as the system can adjust the ride height based on driving conditions, load weight, or driver preference.

Unlike traditional coil springs, which have a fixed stiffness, air suspension can actively adjust its ride height and damping characteristics on the fly. This dynamic capability not only enhances comfort but also improves stability and handling by minimizing body roll and squat during acceleration or braking.

Magnetic Ride Control vs Air Suspension: Key Differences

The main difference between Magneride and air suspension lies in their approach, magnetic ride control focuses on fine-tuning shock absorption, while air suspension prioritizes altering the vehicle’s overall stance and ground clearance. Apart from these, there are some vital differences you should learn about. Let’s check them below:

Ride quality and Comfort

Regarding ride quality and comfort, both magnetic ride control suspension and air suspension offer unique benefits. Magnetic ride control suspension provides a responsive and adaptable driving experience. This allows for instant adjustments to road conditions, resulting in a smooth and comfortable ride. 

On the other hand, air suspension utilizes air springs that can be adjusted to different heights, offering a customizable level of comfort. This not only enhances the overall ride quality but also provides additional support for heavy loads or towing.

The difference in approach between these two suspension systems ultimately impacts the way they deliver comfort to passengers. While magnetic ride control focuses on real-time damping adjustments for precise handling and reduced body roll, air suspension prioritizes height adaptability and load-bearing capabilities. 

Thus, drivers looking for a more dynamic driving experience may lean towards magnetic ride control, while those seeking superior load-leveling features might prefer air suspension. 

Adjustability and Customization

Adjustability and customization are key factors in choosing between magnetic ride control suspension and air suspension. Whether it’s achieving optimal handling on winding roads or ensuring a smooth ride over rough terrain, being able to customize the characteristics of your vehicle’s suspension system can enhance both performance and comfort. 

With magnetic ride control, the underlying technology allows for real-time adjustments to the dampers, ensuring a smooth and responsive ride regardless of road conditions. 

This level of adaptability is further amplified with customizable driving modes, allowing drivers to tailor their experience based on preferences or specific driving conditions. Moreover, you can manually adjust the Magnetic ride control system

On the other hand, air suspension provides a different kind of adjustability by enabling drivers to raise or lower the vehicle’s height at will. This feature not only adds a level of convenience for loading and unloading cargo but also enhances aerodynamics and overall stability during high-speed maneuvers. 

Additionally, some air suspension systems offer adjustable firmness settings, providing a personalized driving experience that caters to individual comfort preferences.

Maintenance and longevity

Magnetic ride control systems often require less maintenance than traditional suspensions due to their lack of moving parts that can wear down over time. This means less hassle for car owners and potentially lower long-term costs. 

On the other hand, air suspension systems may need more regular maintenance to ensure that their complex air springs and valves are functioning optimally, which could lead to higher upkeep expenses in the future.

Longevity is also a crucial factor worth pondering when weighing up these two types of suspension systems. Magnetic ride control systems are generally lauded for their durability and ability to provide consistent performance over many miles, which ultimately contributes to a longer lifespan for the vehicle as a whole. 

Meanwhile, while modern advancements have significantly improved the durability of air suspension systems, there are still potential concerns about long-term reliability and the need for costly repairs as they age. 

Performance Comparison

One of the most significant areas of differentiation when comparing magnetic ride control suspension and air suspension is their performance on varying road surfaces. Magnetic ride control excels in providing precise and instantaneous adjustments to the damping force, offering a more responsive handling experience. 

On the contrary, air suspension provides a smoother and more cushioned ride, particularly on rough roads or uneven terrain. The ability of air suspension to adjust ride height allows for improved ground clearance when navigating obstacles or rough terrain, enhancing off-road performance compared to magnetic ride control.

Moreover, the impact of temperature sensitivity on performance sets these two suspensions apart. Magnetic ride control can be affected by extreme temperatures due to changes in fluid viscosity, potentially impacting its responsiveness and overall performance. 

In contrast, air suspension’s use of compressible air means it is less susceptible to temperature variations, maintaining consistent damping characteristics across diverse environmental conditions

Application in Various Vehicle Types

The application of magnetic ride control suspension and air suspension varies across different vehicle types, contributing to unique driving experiences. In high-performance sports cars, the precision and responsiveness of magnetic ride control make it an ideal choice for delivering superior handling on both smooth and rough surfaces. 

Magneride suspension’s ability to adapt in real-time to various driving conditions ensures a dynamic and exhilarating driving experience. It has since become a standard or optional suspension system in numerous models across Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet, and other GM vehicles.

On the other hand, air suspension finds extensive use in luxury vehicles and SUVs, providing a comfortable and controlled ride quality by adjusting the vehicle’s height based on load, road conditions, or driver preferences.

In off-road vehicles such as trucks and SUVs, air suspension offers added versatility with its ability to raise ground clearance for tackling challenging terrain while also maintaining a smooth ride on paved roads. 

Conversely, magnetic ride control excels in providing precise handling during spirited driving without compromising comfort. Furthermore, in commercial vehicles like buses and trucks, air suspension’s load-leveling capabilities ensure stability and safety when carrying heavy loads or navigating uneven road surfaces. 


Magnetic ride control suspension systems are generally more costly due to the complex electromagnetic components involved, leading to a higher initial investment for the vehicle. As per Reddit users, the replacement of magnetic suspension could come with a price tag of $15,000 before factoring in labor costs. 

JustAnswer suggests that the replacement of a MagneRide shock on a Cadillac Escalade may incur expenses of approximately $750 per shock, along with 1.5 hours of labor for each shock. On the other hand, the average cost for a complete air suspension kit can vary between $2,000 to $7,000, depending on both the specific kit and the vehicle model. 

The installation charges may range from $500 to over $2,000, contingent upon the vehicle and location. Typically, most workshops are capable of installing an entire airbag suspension kit within approximately 10 hours at an hourly rate of around $100 to $125. 

Consequently, installers may levy fees in the vicinity of $1,000 to $1,250 in addition to shop fees. Overall, air suspension systems are often relatively more affordable, offering drivers a smoother ride at a lower price point.

Pros and Cons of Magnetic Ride Control

To select the most suitable option from a range of choices, it is prudent to carefully evaluate their advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, we have outlined the significant pros and cons of Magnetic Ride Control suspension below for your consideration.


  • Offers superior ride quality and comfort due to real-time damping adjustments.
  • Enhances handling and stability by instantly adapting to driving conditions.
  • Reduces body roll and improves cornering ability for a more controlled driving experience.
  • Provides a smoother ride over rough roads, enhancing overall driving comfort.
  • Increases vehicle performance by adjusting suspension settings based on road surfaces and driving dynamics.


  • Can be expensive to repair or replace if components fail outside of warranty coverage.
  • Relies on complex electronic components that may be susceptible to failure in some cases. Check the most common issues regarding Magnetic ride control
  • Potential for decreased reliability in extreme temperature conditions or harsh environments.

Pros and Cons of Air Suspension

Now let’s have a look at the positive and negative sides of air suspension:


  • Air suspension can level the vehicle when carrying heavy loads or towing, enhancing safety and stability.
  • The ability to adjust the ride height allows for better clearance over rough terrain or improved aerodynamics on highways.
  • Offers a smooth and luxurious ride, providing superior comfort compared to traditional coil spring suspensions.
  •  Reduced wear on tires and suspension components due to more even weight distribution.
  •  Enhances the overall driving experience with customizable settings for comfort and performance.


  • Can be expensive to repair and maintain compared to traditional coil spring setups. 
  • Prone to leaks and failure over time due to the complexity of the system.
  • Compatibility with aftermarket modifications and off-road capabilities are often limited with air suspension setups.

Magnetic Ride Control vs Air Suspension: Which One Should You Choose?

The choice between magnetic ride control and air suspension ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you prioritize agility and sporty driving dynamics, Magnetic Ride Control may be the ideal choice. On the other hand, if a smooth and adaptable ride quality is your priority, then Air Suspension might better suit your requirements.

Both systems have their strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to carefully consider the type of driving experience you want before making a decision. 

Ultimately, test-driving vehicles equipped with each system can provide valuable insight into which one best suits your driving style. Take the time to research and experience both options firsthand to make an informed decision that aligns with your driving preferences and priorities.