In this guide, we take a look at Mercedes Adaptive Damping System or ADS. What it is and how to tell if your Mercedes-Benz has it.
Many Mercedes-Benz vehicles are equipped with Airmatic suspension including models such as E, S, ML, GL, R, SL class.
In this day and age, there is a good understanding of what Mercedes airmatic suspension is and how it works. Yet, there is a lot of confusion on the Mercedes Adaptive Damping System or ADS.
Sometimes Mercedes ADS is even confused with Active Body Control (ABC) hydraulic suspension.
A few Mercedes vehicles are equipped with (ADS) in addition to Airmatic. Think of ADS as an add-on to the Airmatic. In fact even though ML, GL, R class sold in the US have air suspension as standard, not all of them have ADS.
What is Mercedes's ADS?
On vehicles equipped with Adaptive Damping System in addition to Airmatic (automatic vehicle height adjustment), the driver can select the suspension stiffness (ride quality) at a push of a button. Mercedes with ADS has a button on the center console that allows them to select the stiffness of the suspension. Typically you have three settings.
- Sport - Suspension becomes very stiff
- Normal -
- Comfort - Very soft suspension, you feel like driving a Lexus.
If your Mercedes does not have ADS, you can not adjust the stiffness of the suspension. The vehicle adjusts the ride height automatically, or you can raise the vehicle. But that does not change the stiffness of the suspension.
Having used an R500 with ADS, my preferred setting is NORMAL. Sport makes you feel every little bump on the road. While the COMFORT setting feels as the car needs new struts and there is too much bouncing. The soft setting is good if you drive in a city with bad roads, but the downside is that it has the potential to shorten the life of the airbags. In Comfort ADS settings, the suspension airbags move up and down the most.
How can I determine if my Mercedes has ADS?
There are two straightforward ways to determine if your Mercedes-Benz has ADS.
First, you have a button on the dashboard, to adjust the ride quality. The button shows a shock and has the words "SPORT" and "COMF" written on it.
A car without ADS will not have this button. Cars with airmatic but no ADS, still have a button to raise the vehicle.
Second, the airmatic structs in vehicles with ADS have a solenoid installed next to the airmatic strut that is not installed on cars without ADS.
Mercedes Airmatic Strut with ADS
Mercedes Airmatic Strut without ADS
Struts from vehicles with ADS are not interchangeable with struts from vehicles without ADS.