CLS 218 AirMatic...

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ALFAitalia

MB Enthusiast
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Feb 19, 2022
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Location
Bognor Regis
Car
2009 ALFA 159 2.0 JTDM, Merc A170 (W169), Merc CLK 200K (C209) gone, 1999 Merc SLK 230K (R170) gone.
How do I tell if a 218 CLS has Airmatic suspension? I know how to tell if I'm with the car but is there an easy way to tell from dash or exterior pix in adverts? I'm trying to avoid ones with it as it's just more problems and expense.... and they look a bit silly sitting so high! I'm looking at 350, 400 and 500 (4.7L) models.
 
As its very similar to the W212, you need to get the Vin# and run it through a data card checker. If you are still in the trade you can obviously get the Vin from the Reg mark.
Look for Option code 488 CHASSIS WITH STEEL/AIR SUPENSION.
There is a button on the console to raise or lower the rear suspension . It looks like a shock absorber. Third button down in photo below.
Looking at the car from photos you'd be unable to tell if it has air suspension on the rear unless its faulty and sitting unreasonable low or high.

c4a6ca601534421caa21d79f5d1797a8[2].jpg
 
You can tell full Airmatic by the location of two buttons to the right of the Comand controller. One says “Sport Comfort” and the other has a rising car symbol. On the 500 it is standard but is an option on the others. If you are looking for a coupe then unless it has these buttons then the 400 and 350 will be steel-sprung all-round, whilst 350 Shooting Brakes are steel front and air on the rear unless they have Airmatic. Sport lowers the car by c15mm I believe and if you like that look you can leave it there. God, I need to get out more…IMG_0749.jpeg
 
Considering how many other expensive issues you can have with modern cars I’d say the airmatic isn’t really a big worry.

Modern steel springs snap and need replacing sometimes too. A pair of airbags isn’t the end of the world :)
 
I have ALFAs....I can virtually change a spring with my eyes closed!....and I've done bags on a E212...easy job. It's, all the associated pumps, pipes and control systems I could do without....it's not as if it's even that much better. All the ones advertised with Airmatic always look to high compared to the steel ones....I'm sure standard ride height is higher for the Airmatic ones.

Thanks for the info though.
 
I have ALFAs....I can virtually change a spring with my eyes closed!....and I've done bags on a E212...easy job. It's, all the associated pumps, pipes and control systems I could do without....it's not as if it's even that much better. All the ones advertised with Airmatic always look to high compared to the steel ones....I'm sure standard ride height is higher for the Airmatic ones.

Thanks for the info though.
Just one compressor/relay and a valve block, the plastic pipes are pretty self explanatory as to what they do.

I’ve had several cars with airmatic and never had an issue with anything other than one set of airbags. I think the compressors burn out when left with leaks in the system as they work hard to compensate.

Steel springs sag over time..you can easily adjust the ride height with airmatic if you want :)
 
Actually it supposedly is. Info on other forums and a couple of suspension specialists (yes it's the internet so could be wrong but I can't find better sources!) claims it's 15mm higher than steel. Rather taller in comfort settings of course
They certainly always look.taller. I'm far from certain and happy to be proven wrong.
A couple of pics from AT
Steel
Screenshot_20230821-095455~2.png
Air
Screenshot_20230821-094930~2.png
 
I have ALFAs....I can virtually change a spring with my eyes closed!....and I've done bags on a E212...easy job. It's, all the associated pumps, pipes and control systems I could do without....it's not as if it's even that much better. All the ones advertised with Airmatic always look to high compared to the steel ones....I'm sure standard ride height is higher for the Airmatic ones.

Thanks for the info though.

They sit slightly higher in Comfort mode. Yes, they look better in Sport but sometimes, on shit roads, I stick mine in Comfort to increase the suspension travel and waft.

I'm not trying to change your mind on Air but, FWIW, I've have two E500s with it over 13 years and 80k miles (with one car on 145k and the other on 85k) and the sum total of problems I've had is one pump and two rear air springs.
 
Fair enough....maybe I'm being a bit hard on it. But where I do all my own work (paint and tyre balancing aside) I like to minimise the unnecessary bits to reduce the chance of costly failures....especially ones that done really improve the car in a big way....like Airmatic, heated/cooled seats etc.
Lots of them do have Air so not eliminating that option gives me a wider choice of cars. At the moment.....and it might change as it have a few times.....I'm only looking at CLS saloons......but also still like the E 212....or the E213 E43 or...or...or (oh and the BMW F10 540I.....but we won't mention that apart from to say that I drive one last month....very nice!)
 
Cost wise I don’t really see this as an issue.

If you’re on a tight budget you can get aftermarket compressors and airbags.

Have a look on eBay, a pair of airbags and a compressor - if you should ever need them - is less than £250 delivered (I can’t vouch for the quality, but just as an example!)
 
It's not a case of not being able to afford it....it's far more a case being a tight git and not wanting too!.....also I'm a bit old school so the less to go wrong the better.....
 
It's not a case of not being able to afford it....it's far more a case being a tight git and not wanting too!.....also I'm a bit old school so the less to go wrong the better.....

I totally get that.

For the same reason I'm reluctant to go from a big simple V8 to something "more eco" as it will have turbos and I don't want that particular risk.

And I don't want a hybrid because of all the additional complexity they have.

Hence sticking with what I've got and upgrading the audio instead.
 
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Actually it supposedly is. Info on other forums and a couple of suspension specialists (yes it's the internet so could be wrong but I can't find better sources!) claims it's 15mm higher than steel. Rather taller in comfort settings of course
They certainly always look.taller. I'm far from certain and happy to be proven wrong.
A couple of pics from AT
Steel
View attachment 145348
Air
View attachment 145349
No. The suspension on so-called AMG models is 15mm lower, it's not 15mm higher on Airmatics. The standard ride height is what you call "raised" and is how the expert Mercedes engineer designers with decades of experience created the car.

Lower suspension (like bigger wheels) just makes the ride less comfortable and adds nothing to the driving experience in any normal legal use of the car.

When will people wake up and smell the coffee???

Perhaps one of these would suit better.

Fostla-Mercedes-Benz-CLS-350-12-1280x820.jpg

As a former 156 and 159 driver, I would say an LSD adds far more to the driving experience than lower springs or bigger wheels ever could.
 
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I've never damaged a big wheel from a pothole, ever. And personally the better steering feel and directness of lower profile tyres are well worth any small reduction in comfort....the better looks are just a bonus. As your picture proves though....you can go too far!...but since that example must me bagged to get that low he can probably set the ride height as high as he wants.
I also had a 156 (2.5 V6 Busso) before my 159....I've lowered 159 a bit on Eibach coils..but she's still on 17s.....I never could find a decent set of the ten spoke 19 inch TI wheels for sensible money...so didn't bother. Never liked ALFA horse shoe or holed wheels.
 

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