One of the world’s most well-loved luxury vehicles, the Rolls Royce remains a popular automobile among collectors and regular owners. Rolls lovers enthuse over their luxury features. Beautiful styling and handcrafted quality welcome passengers and drivers alike to sit back and enjoy their ride.
Speaking of ride, Rolls is known for cars that give an ultra-smooth ride. Unfortunately, two models — the Rolls Royce Phantom and the Rolls Royce Ghost — have developed a reputation for air suspension problems.
How Air Suspension Works
Basic air suspension systems were designed to replace the coil springs in a vehicle’s suspension system. Comprised initially of two airbags inflated by an outside compressor to a correct pressure or height, they have evolved into much more complex systems with multiple components and electronically controlled system regulators, which are usually independent of the vehicle’s on-board electronic systems.
Lines, composed of a rubber/polyurethane material or made of custom steel, carry compressed air to the airbag struts. In non-electronic systems, valves are an essential part of controlling and directing the flow of compressed air to provide for a smooth ride. In electronically-controlled systems, solenoids control the filling and venting of air in the airbag struts.
“Intelligent” Air Suspension in the Rolls Royce Phantom and Ghost models
The fantastic ride provided by these two models, sometimes referred to as a “magic carpet ride,” can be attributed to the innovative air suspension system design developed by the manufacturer. Each model sports a state-of-the-art chassis with intelligent air suspension incorporating all four corners of the vehicle. Dynamic handling and safety systems such as Active Roll Stabilisation, Variable Damping Control, and four corner air springs are designed to work in tandem, providing a comfortable and safe ride, even over rough surfaces.
Phantom and Ghost air suspension systems are so finely-tuned they can sense the smallest of changes. The manufacturer boasts that even the movement of a rear seat passenger from one side of the seat to the other can be detected by the air suspension system and adjustments made to compensate accordingly.
The computer system controlling the Phantom and Ghost air suspension systems is on-board, reading inputs from multiple sensors around the vehicle. For example, just the dampers make individual load calculation every 2.5 milliseconds. The extreme sensitivity of the system produces a truly enjoyable ride.
Causes of Air Suspension Problems
Unfortunately, the source of the highly-touted ultra-smooth ride is also the Rolls’ Achilles heel. The Airmatic system, composed of four air struts and a compressor along with its electronic sensors, is known to malfunction in some models.
An examination of the suspension system often reveals leaks in the airbags. Often the rubber parts in these components can tear or break and result in an air leak. The manufacturer recommends replacing the air struts in pairs to maintain proper system equilibrium.
Often an air compressor fails because it’s being overworked. Sometimes, if the vehicle has been sitting for awhile, the compressor will have released some of its air in order to protect the pneumatics. In either case, consultation with a specialist is recommended.
Symptoms of Air Suspension Problems
Air suspension problems manifest primarily in the position and movement of the car. A vehicle having problems with air suspension may lean more significantly to the right or left. This usually occurs in the front, but has been known to happen in the rear, as well.
Problems with the air suspension system will also cause the vehicle to sit much lower to the ground than normal. An uncharacteristically bumpy ride is also usually the result of problems with the air suspension. Finally, faulty air suspension systems may have either a continuously running compressor or a compressor that won’t come on at all.
We Can Help
Mark Douglas Motorworks in Orange County specializes in European imports. Serving satisfied clients in Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Huntington Beach, Laguna Hills, and Laguna Nigel, CA, we’re a dealership alternative facility committed to providing trustworthy and affordable service to our customers. Your investment in your Rolls Royce deserves expert care. Call today to talk to one of our Rolls Royce specialists and let us help get that air suspension issue resolved.
* Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe image credit goes to: DarthArt.
* Rolls Royce Ghost image credit goes to: josefkubes.