A Guide to Common Mercedes CLS550 Air Suspension Problems

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It doesn’t matter if it’s brand spanking new or an older model; having a Mercedes CLS550 in your garage will show off your smarts and sophisticated taste. But before splurging your hard-earned cash on this luxury ride, wouldn’t it be wise to consider any potential hiccups? Of course, yes. 

Astonishingly, the Airmatic suspension system in the Mercedes CLS550 is prone to specific issues. Throughout the years, owners have been griping about some common Mercedes CLS550 air suspension problems, including air spring leakage, ride height stuck at the high position, compressor failure, faulty suspension valves, etc. 

However, we can’t let the fear of such issues obstruct having your dream car. So, read this. Here, we will explore the common issues faced by CLS550 owners and offer troubleshooting tips with expert advice on what to look out for when buying one.

How Does Mercedes Airmatic Suspension Work?

When Mercedes-Benz introduced its Airmatic suspension system on the W220 S-Class in 2000, it marked a significant departure from conventional coil springs used in previous car models. 

Instead of relying on coils, this groundbreaking technology relies on air springs equipped with electronic level control and adaptive damping at all four corners of the vehicle’s chassis. 

Complementing this advanced system is the Adaptive Damping System (ADS), which continuously monitors both road conditions and your driving habits. 

The advanced ADS feature constantly monitors road conditions and your driving style to instantly firm up shock absorbers for superior handling within an impressive response time of just 50 milliseconds.  

Why Is Mercedes CLS550 Air Suspension Prone to Issues?

The Mercedes CLS550 air suspension, also known as Airmatic suspension, has been found to be prone to certain issues. But why? Well, issues are more or less common in air suspensions, whether a basic unit or a modified one. 

So, in the case of Mercedes CLS550, several factors contribute to the frequent problems encountered with its air suspension.

Gradual Degradation 

Mercedes CLS550 air suspension relies on various components working together seamlessly, making it susceptible to wear and tear over time. 

Accumulated dust, dirt, and debris can infiltrate and damage the system. This buildup prevents the airbags from inflating or deflating as needed, resulting in a compromised ride quality. 

Additionally, deteriorating rubber components within the suspension system also contribute to its susceptibility to problems. Rubber wears down over time due to exposure to various elements, such as heat and moisture, leading to cracks and degradation.

Electrical Issues

Another factor that contributes to Airmatic suspension problems is electrical failures. Issues such as faulty sensors or malfunctioning control modules can lead to inflated or deflated air springs at inappropriate times or unevenly across wheels, causing an imbalanced ride. 

Additionally, wiring harnesses connected to the suspension components may be damaged due to corrosion or physical stress.

Faulty Sensors

Faulty sensors are another culprit behind Airmatic malfunctions. These sensors monitor the suspension’s performance and adjust accordingly. However, they can become misaligned or damaged, resulting in inaccurate readings that lead to improper functioning of the system.

Moisture or Water Intrusion

Water or moisture intrusion can lead to various air suspension issues in the Mercedes CLS550. One potential area affected is the air compressor, which pressurizes the system to maintain proper suspension height. Water intrusion into the air compressor can damage its internal parts, leading to a loss of pressure and consequently impacting the vehicle’s ride comfort.

Another vulnerable component is the air struts or shocks, which absorb bumps and provide stability. If water seeps into these struts, it can corrode internal seals, impairing their ability to function properly. This may result in a bouncy or unstable ride.

Symptoms of Air Suspension Issues in Mercedes CLS550

The air suspension of your CLS550 is facing performance difficulties and internal problems, with the added concern that the warning light is not illuminating. 

This situation could potentially lead to a dire outcome. Familiarizing yourself with the typical symptoms of air suspension issues in such cases can help avert significant damage or the occurrence of accidents.

Vehicle Sagging

One common indication of an air suspension problem is a noticeable sagging or uneven height of the vehicle, particularly on one side or corner. This can affect the overall stability and handling of the vehicle while driving.

Rough Ride

Another symptom to watch out for is an excessive bouncing or jolting sensation while driving over bumps or rough road surfaces. This could suggest a malfunctioning air compressor, which is responsible for maintaining proper pressure in the air suspension system.

Unusual Noises

Unusual noises such as hissing or whining coming from beneath the vehicle may also indicate potential air suspension problems. These sounds can signify leakage in the airlines, faulty valves, or a failing air strut.

Compressor Running Continuously

If you notice that the compressor runs more frequently than normal or stays on for extended periods, this could indicate that your air suspension system is struggling to maintain proper pressure levels. The compressor should typically only operate intermittently when needed.

Abnormal Ride Height

Another indication is if the vehicle exhibits an uneven stance, where one side is noticeably higher or lower than the other. This can result from a leak or faulty compressor within the air suspension components. 

Mercedes CLS550 Air Suspension Problems

You can’t escape issues in air suspension systems, and it’s usual indeed. However, frequent issues in air suspension are alarming. Below we have discussed common Mercedes CLS550 air suspension problems. 

Air Spring Leakage

The Mercedes Airmatic suspension has unfortunately garnered a negative reputation largely due to its air spring leakage problem, which appears to be pervasive in the CLS550 model as well. 

Numerous owners have come forward, reporting that their vehicles consistently lose ride height overnight or after being parked outside for an extended period. Air spring leakage occurs when there is a breach in the seal within the system, resulting in air escaping and causing a drop in ride height. 

Potential Solution:

To address this frustrating problem, we recommend following the troubleshooting steps outlined below:

  • Inspect the air springs thoroughly for any visible signs of damage or leaks. Specifically, pay close attention to cracks, tears, or worn-out rubber components.
  • Utilize a soap and water solution to perform a bubble test on the air springs. Apply this mixture to suspected areas and look for bubbles forming to indicate leaks.
  • Check all airlines and connections meticulously for any loose fittings or deteriorated rubber hoses that may be causing air leaks.
  • Inspect the suspension compressor for any potential malfunctions or damages that could affect its ability to maintain proper pressure levels within the system.

Ride Height Stuck At The High Position

A significant number of Mercedes CLS550 owners have voiced their frustration regarding an issue with the ride height of their vehicles. These individuals find that the ride height remains stuck in the high position, regardless of their attempts to lower it. 

According to experts, this particular problem may stem from a faulty ride height sensor in the Mercedes Airmatic suspension system. The ride height sensor is a vital component of the Airmatic suspension, responsible for monitoring and adjusting the level of the vehicle according to driving conditions and passenger load. 

When it malfunctions, as seems to be occurring in these CLS550 models, it inaccurately detects and maintains an elevated ride height. One potential explanation for this malfunction is that moisture and debris may accumulate around the ride height sensor over time, causing corrosion or physical damage. 

Another possibility is electrical issues or wiring faults disrupting proper communication between the sensor and other relevant components within the Airmatic system.

Potential Solution:

If you find yourself facing this issue, there are a few troubleshooting measures that may help resolve the issue.

  • Firstly, it is advisable to thoroughly inspect the ride height sensor and its surrounding components for any signs of damage or wear. This should include examining the wiring harnesses and connections for any loose or corroded components affecting sensor operation.
  • Ensure all system fuses related to the Airmatic suspension are intact. Troubleshoot by inspecting each relevant fuse and replacing any blown ones as necessary.
  • Another potential solution involves resetting the Airmatic system by disconnecting the car’s battery for approximately 30 minutes and then reconnecting it. This process may help recalibrate the sensors and restore proper functions within the system.

The Car Slammed into the Ground

Many Mercedes CLS550 owners have encountered an issue where their cars’ ride height drops unexpectedly, causing the vehicle to slam against the ground literally. This problem tends to occur during attempts to lift the car with a jack, as despite multiple attempts, the ride height fails to increase. 

One possible explanation for this issue lies in a malfunctioning air compressor. This crucial component is responsible for pressurizing and supplying air to the suspension system. A faulty compressor can deliver insufficient pressure, causing an inadequate increase in ride height during a jack-up operation.

Another potential culprit could be leaking or damaged air springs failing to sustain the desired level of lift. Over time, these components may wear out due to normal usage or endure damage from external sources such as road debris or harsh driving conditions.

Possible Solution:

To troubleshoot this problem, it is advisable to inspect the air suspension components. Check for any visible damage or leaks in the air springs, valves, or hoses. Repair or replace any faulty parts accordingly.

Next, ensure the air compressor pumping air into the suspension system works correctly. Inspect its connections and wires for any signs of damage or loose connections. 

It may also be helpful to recalibrate the air suspension system according to Mercedes’ specifications. This can usually be done through a diagnostic tool at an authorized service center or dealership.

Airmatic Malfunction Alert 

One common air suspension issue that has garnered significant concern among Mercedes CLS550 owners is the frequent occurrence of an Airmatic malfunction alert on the dashboard. This alert often accompanies a noticeable tilting of the car towards the right side. 

The primary cause behind this problem is typically a leak in either the front or rear air springs. However, it is important to note that leaks can also occur in airlines or in the suspension valve block responsible for directing air to the four air springs.

Potential Solution:

To address this problem, our expert mechanics recommend following these troubleshooting steps:

  • Start by visually inspecting the air springs for any signs of leakage. This may include observing sagging or unevenness in the affected area.
  • If leakage is evident, closely examine all connections and air lines leading to and from the air springs. Look for cracks, loose fittings, or other indicators of damage.
  • If no leakage or visible damage is found, proceed to inspect the suspension valve block. Pay special attention to its electrical connectors and wiring harnesses to ensure they are securely connected and free of any corrosion.
  • Test each individual air spring’s functionality by activating them manually using a diagnostic tool specific to your Mercedes CLS550 model.
  • Replace the faulty component if you encounter any faults during this manual activation test. This could involve replacing a leaking air spring, repairing damaged air lines, or resolving issues within the suspension valve block.

Final Words

While the Mercedes CLS550 offers a luxurious driving experience and an impressive range of features, it is important to be aware of potential air suspension problems before purchasing. The issue of air leaks and failing components can lead to costly repairs and inconvenience for owners. 

It is recommended that prospective buyers thoroughly research the specific model year they are interested in and consider consulting with a trusted mechanic or dealership to assess any potential risks.

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