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Old 09-22-2021, 12:02 PM   #1
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Vail , Arizona
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Rough ride with air suspension?

Hello everyone. My wife and I are looking into buying a 2017 Interstate with the VB Air Suspension. I have read on the forum that the air suspension makes a lot of difference and is worth it, however, we drove the van yesterday and both couldn't get over how rough the ride was. It was like every seam on the road jarred the whole van, especially the back. My wife tried sitting back there on the way back and said it made her feel road sick. I did verify the air suspension worked by putting the parking brake on and raising and lowering it, and the service light on the remote was not on. The way this was, I can't imagine how bad a non-air Sprinter would be considering the praise everyone has spoke about the VB system. I will say there was a patch of newly paved interstate, and it was very smooth on that, but anything on the road other than perfectly smooth pavement was felt sharply. Does this sound right, or does it sound like something could be wrong with this coach specifically? Thank you.
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Old 09-22-2021, 01:40 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by azco View Post
The way this was, I can't imagine how bad a non-air Sprinter would be considering the praise everyone has spoke about the VB system. I will say there was a patch of newly paved interstate, and it was very smooth on that, but anything on the road other than perfectly smooth pavement was felt sharply. Does this sound right, or does it sound like something could be wrong with this coach specifically? Thank you.
The Mercedes Sprinter 3500 dually is a 5-ton truck. If you've ever driven a 3500 dually Ford or RAM pickup with an empty bed, you would be familiar with an even worse nightmare of a ride. The Mercedes Sprinter 3500 chassis is a better riding chassis than the Fords or RAMs, although the modern Fords & RAMs have come a long way. But I digress.

The rear suspension in the AI is replaced with VB Air components (replace is truly the best description vs. added, because most of the original rear suspension is removed and replaced with VB Air components). While the ride does improve, IMHO it is the drivability & handling & achieving the goal of always having the desired ideal suspension 'geometry' (my term - for lack of better name) that was the intent of VB Air. It was intended to achieve constant ride height regardless of weight and shifting conditions (i.e. crosswinds, twists & turns) on the road as the system is constantly adjusting many times a second. It's ECU works with the MB ECU that handles the ESP system.

If you scrutinize all AI literatures on VB Air - they say "Optional air suspension system for improved drivability, stability, and comfort." Notice that comfort is LAST on that claim while drivability is primary. To put it bluntly, it's still a 3500 5-ton truck and it's gonna ride like it is, VB Air or not. No amount of rear suspension work will make it ride like my big S-Class sedan. And if you did, then you would not be able to carry 5-tons.

So, assuming your VB Air is not broken, you will probably need to accept its limitations or look elsewhere. But the X-factor is your 2017 (I assume) is a used unit. So mileage plays a part in this - how old are the tires? VB Air has components that could degrade over time or mileage or misuse. The VB Air suspension system contains mainsprings (trailing arms) with air-springs, shock absorbers and a stabiliser bar. The system also has a dual-air-circuit with twin height sensors. These all need to be verified. The 'ride' issue is very much subjective and hard to evaluate in a forum setting. If in doubt, you may want to have a shop that is VB Air certified check it over.

I have driven both versions of rv's with (my 2018 AI) & without VB Air (a friend's Coachmen). I have also driven extensively another friend's Sprinter 3500 cargo van (empty shell, just 3-person middle seats). The ride is night/day. If you ever plan on having rear passengers (even if its just the 2nd row captains chairs but especially on the rear sofa), VB Air is a must have.

Lastly, every 3500 vehicle I have driven rides better, especially over the rear duallies, when it has a FULL load maxed out over the axle. That's how they are built to ride.
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Old 09-22-2021, 02:10 PM   #3
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Tire pressure set too high.

I had this when I picked mine up at the dealer. Tires were at 90 psi should have been at 61 psi
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Old 09-22-2021, 03:11 PM   #4
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Alex, thank you for the detailed info. We didn't end up getting that particular Interstate due to being too far apart on our offer. Honestly it doesn't break my heart. There were other issues with this one. Check engine light, cracked windshield, MB lane assist inop waring. This was on the front line of a major US dealer too. Point being, there certainly could have been issues with the air system that they have not bothered looking in to.

Having been shopping around, seems like dealers are using current demand and inventory shortages to their advantage. Basically someone is going to buy it anyways, so why bother fixing it? We looked at a Regency at another dealer and they didn't even vacuum it out. There were still crumbs all over the seat and a 140K price tag

Sorry for rambling... But I guess my main train of thought is there is a beautiful private party Interstate a couple hours away but it doesn't have the air ride. We have kids and will always have someone in all 4 captains seats and people in the back when we have family in town. Just can't imagine putting someone back there if the ride is even noticeably worse on the non-air version.
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Old 09-22-2021, 04:10 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by azco View Post
Alex, thank you for the detailed info. We didn't end up getting that particular Interstate due to being too far apart on our offer. Honestly it doesn't break my heart. There were other issues with this one. Check engine light, cracked windshield, MB lane assist inop waring. This was on the front line of a major US dealer too. Point being, there certainly could have been issues with the air system that they have not bothered looking in to.

Having been shopping around, seems like dealers are using current demand and inventory shortages to their advantage. Basically someone is going to buy it anyways, so why bother fixing it? We looked at a Regency at another dealer and they didn't even vacuum it out. There were still crumbs all over the seat and a 140K price tag

Sorry for rambling... But I guess my main train of thought is there is a beautiful private party Interstate a couple hours away but it doesn't have the air ride. We have kids and will always have someone in all 4 captains seats and people in the back when we have family in town. Just can't imagine putting someone back there if the ride is even noticeably worse on the non-air version.
AZCO - Rambling not an issue here. I do it everyday! Good call following your gut/instincts. If it has CEL and issues with Lane Assist and of which many other systems are part of & controlled by ECU, who knows what it's doing with ESP and it's direct interface with the VB Air system. There will always be another AI to check. It did strike me as extreme that your wife felt like getting sick in back. My daughter & wife who are sensitive & susceptible to getting car sick if ride isn't smooth have not had issues. So there very well could have been an issue with that unit's VB Air. I would suggest maybe still test driving units without VB Air so you have some basis of comparison on what is normal.
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Old 09-22-2021, 04:54 PM   #6
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Hi

Right now is *not* a good time to find a deal on a used RV. That's true of all RV's and is not specific to AS products. Yes, you might find a reasonable price from a private dealer on the first day he lists. It is very unlikely you will find one at a dealer.

You may well find a used van in very nice shape at this or that dealer. In my experience, asking price will likely be the same as MSRP on a new van. Will he get that price? Would he come down 10%? Who knows .... I didn't even start the discussion, I moved on.

Bob
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Old 09-23-2021, 04:03 AM   #7
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Like many others we have an AI Lounge without air suspension and without leveling jacks. Ours is a 2016 that we bought used. We view the lack of those two options as an advantage: fewer complicated systems to fail. However, itís just the two of us so nobody rides in the back for long. On occasion, one of us rides in the second row, which has been fine.
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Old 09-23-2021, 06:41 AM   #8
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Hi

These same vans get used as people haulers. Three or four folks in a seat. Four or more rows of seats. If you have ever been in one of those, you quickly learn that the back row is *not* the one you want....

Bob
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Old 09-23-2021, 11:05 AM   #9
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The rear sofa/jackknife bed in our Sprinter did not have seatbelts and was labeled “Not for use while in motion”. It was a very rough ride behind the axle. I added airbags which helped stability in windy conditions but made the ride even rougher as pressure was added.
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Old 09-23-2021, 06:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
It was a very rough ride behind the axle. I added airbags which helped stability in windy conditions but made the ride even rougher as pressure was added.
Before I bought mine in 2018, all the readings I did here and other forums highlighted this ride problem being hard to tame with aftermarket trial-&-error. While lots of the info was anecdotal and tough to quantify, it made me exclude many other SOB's from consideration because the AI was the only one that can be ordered with VB Air from factory. So I bit the bullet on the expensive option just so I was not faced with expensive suspension tweaking. Glad I did!
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Old 09-23-2021, 11:04 PM   #11
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I specifically sought out the VB when I bought my 2016 Interstate. I believe that it is highly beneficial, especially with handling at highway speeds. There have been times that I have been in windy conditions and the van seemed like it corrected its path. In other instances, it seemed like it helps smooth out imperfections. Another desirable feature is the ability to level out somewhat when parking and to raise or lower the rear when attaching a cargo box.

I never have anyone riding in the back. I keep the bed permanently set up. I have been on some roads that were rough to the point that nothing would make the ride better. One thing worth mentioning is that switching to Michelin Tires improved the smoothness of the ride, and the noise level decreased as well.

I would opt for the VB system again. An RV is a rolling earthquake. I think that having the system will make the van last longer.
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Old 09-24-2021, 08:19 AM   #12
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Thanks for all the input. Looks like we are going to hold off for a VB equipped Interstate or go with a custom builder. I really liked the Winne Era, but some of the materials were not as nice as the Airstream.
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Old 09-24-2021, 09:18 AM   #13
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Hi

Even in "normal times" driving a thousand miles to see this or that RV is not at all uncommon. Doing so at the drop of a hat to get there before it's sold is a very typical part of it as well.

These are not normal times in the RV market. Whatever was typical three years ago is out the window now. Spending a lot of time on the road, even to see dealer inventory is how you do it today.

Bob
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