Why cars with Air Suspension aka 'Balloon' like Benz and Range-Rover don't do well in Nigeria


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Air suspension is a very comfortable type of suspension in cars but Nigerians shy away from buying cars that have it. Why?

Air Suspension is the reason why President Buhari's Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the most comfortable car to ride in but first, what is a suspension system in cars?

The suspension system is in place on your car to give you a comfortable ride as you drive through rough/unleveled roads; we have a lot of that in Nigeria.

Without a suspension system on your car, riding through uneven roads will be very bumpy for you either as the driver or passenger. In short, the suspension takes in all the bumpiness you are meant to feel. But why we say "Don't drive cars with air suspension in Nigeria"?


The most common cars with Air Suspension in Nigeria; Benz GL & S Class, Range Rover Sport

The concept of air suspension is very simple. Normal everyday cars use springs for its suspension system while in air suspensions, compressed air is used in place of springs. This compressed air is regulated by an engine-driven air compressor.

Why is Air Suspension perfect?

The comfort of air suspensions is next to none and this is why only high-end luxury cars like Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Range Rovers, Bentleys e.t.c use it on their high-end cars.

Regular cars like the Toyota Sequoia and Prado also have Air Suspension enabled variants.

The Mercedes-Benz S-Classes with air suspension is often referred to as a spaceship because its air-suspension makes riding in the car on bumpy roads and potholes very smooth. This does not mean you won't protect your car from potholes in Nigeria because the effect can be very costly to repair. 


Some Air Suspension systems can be controlled with remotes

The second reason is that you can easily adjust air suspensions. On Range Rovers, for example, there are buttons to adjust the ride height of the car. If you are about to go on very bumpy roads, you raise the height of the car so that you have a high ground clearance to tackle the bad road. If you want to drive at high speeds, you lower the car so that the ride can be more balanced and you can have perfect handling to control the speed.

What is the major problem of air suspension in Nigeria?

You know in Nigeria, 75 percent of cars bought are gotten either as local or foreign used aka Tokunbo. Cars with air suspension would have been exposed to wear and tear already and there is a particular component called the "balloon" just attached to the air suspension. The balloon is where the air is stored for the suspension to utilize.

This balloon often leaks air when it gets old. The rubber components of the balloon deteriorate, creating holes and tears and this causes an air leak.


This is the notorious Balloon from Air Suspension cars 

Air suspension is very expensive to replace and this is why cars like the Mercedes-Benz GL550 (2006 - 2012) and Range Rover Sport (2005 - 2013) have very low resale value in Nigeria while buyers know they would change the balloon of the car soon.

You will see a lot of Range Rover Sports at mechanic workshops that look like they have been slammed. Slammed means that body of the car has been lowered beyond normal. This is what happens when the balloon leaks.

One important note is that balloons will always leak and there is nothing you can do about it especially in Nigeria where the sun is always very intense, which affects the rate at which the balloon deteriorates. This is why you shouldn't daily drive an air-suspension in Nigeria especially if it will spend a lot of time on the road under the sun.


Faulty Air Suspension cars; it just comes down like it is lowered

Also, if you own or you are about to own an air suspension enabled car in Nigeria, make sure you park it under a shed at all times. However, you can always convert your Air Suspension cars to have full springs like regular cars but you will lose that ride comfort.

A friend of mine converted his 2005 Toyota Sequoia from Air Suspension to normal springs for ₦25,000 and it would have cost him ₦150,000 to replace the damaged balloons normally. 


Air Suspension is an expensive type of suspension that needs to be gently maintained when being used in Nigeria. The balloon leaks are inevitable when you buy the Air Suspension car locally or foreign used in Nigeria. That's why we don't drive cars with air suspension in Nigeria that much!

On Naijauto.com we constantly keep you in the loop with up-to-date car news and all you have to know to stay above water as a motorist in Nigeria.

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Crank - the head of content for 234DRIVE is a mechanic/car enthusiast/car vlogger that writes and creates relatable motoring experiences. Whenever he lays his hands on any car, he reviews them in depth. He calls himself the 'Educative Car Guy'.

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