I love the factory air ride on my 958 Porsche Cayenne GTS which has five levels; normal ride height in the middle, and then two settings to raise the car (high, and highest) and two more settings to lower the car (low, and lowest).
The lowest setting is known as “loading height” meant for when you’re loading heavy objects into the rear, and unfortunately the car will not let you drive at this level, which means there is really only one setting lower than “normal” height.
The car looks good at this “lower, but not lowest” height, but I’ve never been someone to leave “good enough” alone, and every car I’ve owned in the last 15 years has been lowered in some fashion.
I started searching the forums on the best way to lower the Cayenne while retaining the factory air ride, as it rides super nice and it’s great to have the ability to change the ride height whenever I want.
There are two main methods to lower the car while retaining the air ride, either updating the software coding or installing lowering links.
The software coding route is “free” (if you have access to the $900 durametric tool, that is) and basically recalibrates the ride height sensors to think that “normal” should be lower than it was originally programmed. The reviews on this method are generally positive, although the most you can get is about a half an inch of lowering, and it does degrade the ride quality some at the “normal” height.
The other option is to install lowering links which allows you to adjust the sensor arm to lower the vehicle. This method will give you greater range than software alone (although they can be used in tandem), and doesn’t require you to have a Durametric tool.
Install was about 2 hours of shop labor, although plenty of people have DIY installed these as well.
My shop noted that they did have to adjust them a few times to get the ride height even at all four corners, and opted for a slight rake to give the best appearance and handling.
After getting the car back, I really can’t notice a difference in ride quality whatsoever…with the only exception being large speed bumps or potholes if you are in a lower setting you are more likely to hit bump stops since the car has less suspension travel.
Each setting appears to be about one notch lower than it was before – e.g. normal height looks like the “lower” setting, and the “lower” setting looks like the loading setting, etc…
The loading setting looks the coolest, and tucks a little in the rear. With some spacers or aftermarket wheels this will look as good as any aftermarket air ride setup would.
I find myself driving in the “lower” setting, although I’ve been switching between lower and normal a bunch just to see if I can tell a difference…it’s pretty hard to tell, and I don’t think my passengers have noticed or cared one way or another which is always a good litmus test.
If you’re thinking of lowering your Cayenne, this seems like a great option. The links are $200 and the labor was another $200, keeping your all-in cost under $500 which is probably the cheapest lowering kit I’ve ever bought (on the most expensive car I’ve ever owned, ironically enough).
While I can’t speak to the DIY install, the pictures don’t seem to bad, just be prepared to spend a lot more time than it would take a professional.
In terms of long-term reliability it remains to be seen, but these parts are not particularly load bearing so I don’t see a reason for them to fail or have issues – they’re basically just adjustable arms for a sensor.
While I plan to keep the Cayenne pretty stock, this was a cheap mod that looks great and hasn’t compromised the ride quality or other dynamics from the factory, so I’m glad I had the chance to do it…as you can see the results aren’t crazy different or over-the-top, just a nice subtle drop without having to hack your ECU or suspension up to accomplish it.
Got any experience with lowering links on your air-ride equipped car?
Leave me a comment with any feedback or advice on how your experience has been, I would love to hear it!