What Is MagneRide Suspension?

What Is MagneRide Suspension?

Last Updated February 23, 2024 | Meghan Drummond

Suspension tends to come in two flavors: Comfortable or responsive. The easier a car is to sit in, the harder it’s going to be to handle around a curve. Suspension upgrades like air lifts change that by being variable. But even air ride systems take a minute to adjust, and you need to constantly choose between good handling and a good ride.

MagneRide seeks to eliminate that, offering riders an active suspension that’s comfortable and responsive, all through the power of magnets. First unveiled in the early 2000s, the first car with MagneRide was a 2002 Cadillac Seville. Recently, more performance-oriented cars, like the Mustang, have added MagneRide suspension as an option.

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How Standard Suspensions Work

The suspension is a critical part of your car. While most associate suspension upgrades with comfort, it’s also an important part of the handling and stability of your car. Think about driving over a speed bump without adequate suspension. Your wheels would lift up, transferring the shock into the frame of the car. Then the wheels would fall back into contact with the road again, once again sending waves of shock into your car. Not only would this be uncomfortable, but you would lose steering capabilities multiple times and cause undue wear and tear on your vehicle.

Thankfully, suspensions allow the wheels of your car to adapt to the variable surface of the road. They help keep the wheels in contact with the road and work to address body roll. The suspension components of your vehicle include the wheels and tires themselves, springs, shock absorbers or struts, linkages, bushings, bearings, and joints. All of these components work in harmony to minimize the impact of variable road conditions on your car.

There are several types of suspensions, but all of them require some kind of shock absorber or damper. Shock absorbers help to regulate the energy output of the springs’ release, decreasing the vibrations. They do this by using a liquid or gas to slow the pistons, and the stiffness of the shock absorption relates to the viscosity of this material and how difficult it is to move.

Struts function similarly. A strut is a shock absorber inside a spring, but the function is pretty much the same. So, your vehicle comes with some kind of shock absorber in your suspension that takes the hits and adjusts accordingly. This is the part of the suspension that MagneRide impacts.

How MagneRide Works

Instead of a traditional damper, MagneRide systems have dampers that are full of magnetorheological fluid. It’s essentially a blend of iron particles and synthetic oil. When exposed to magnetic fields, the magnetic particles line up, making the fluid denser. This can happen in twenty-thousandths of a second, and the process is totally reversible.

Diagram showing how MagneRide iron particles work to control suspension feel

So, you get to have the kind of soft, floaty suspension everyone dreams of, but then when you need to corner, it suddenly becomes the intensely stiff suspension that you need to handle the vehicle safely.

A version of this system exists not only in cars but also has been used for prosthetic legs and military helicopters. Fabrics engineered with magnetorheological fluid are being researched for use as bomb blankets and body armor. In short, there are a lot of practical uses, only one of which is making sure that you have an awesome ride.

MagneRide for the Mustang

Gif showing how MagneRide stiffens and softens the suspension

The Shelby GT350 has been getting MagneRide since 2015, but the GT and EcoBoost models had to wait until 2018 for it to be an option. Now you can get this suspension upgrade for a fairly reasonable price on any model of Ford Mustang you desire.

MagneRide is a perfect choice for the Mustang for a lot of reasons. High on the list is the fact that many owners use their Mustang as their daily driver. A lot of those same owners also like to take their Mustangs to the track on the weekends. MagneRide is ideal for both situations, giving the Mustang more comfort as a daily and more handling capabilities for performance situations.

MagneRide on the Mustang comes with three selectable modes: Normal, Sport, and Track. You can probably guess which is which, but you’ll want normal to go to work, sport to show off for your friends, and track for, y'know... the track.

Pros and Cons of MagneRide

Other than the obvious benefits to comfort and handling, there are several other pluses to this upgraded suspension package. Reducing the moving parts and friction in your suspension helps increase its longevity and decrease the number of problems that you might have with it. Though there’s an initial upfront cost, it pays itself off pretty quickly when you take the cost of replacement parts into consideration.

Image comparing body roll between standard and magnetic suspensions

Compared to the coils of a traditional shock system, MagneRide is in a different galaxy both for comfort and also for handling improvements.

The MagneRide’s level of stiffness is controlled by your car’s electronic “brain” and as such, can have all of the problems that you’d expect with that. It also is an additional cost on top of the already pricey performance package.

And of course, as with all performance parts, the cost of fixing anything that goes wrong with MagneRide is high. Premium parts have premium prices, and once you’ve had a great suspension, it’s hard to go backwards.

Is the MagneRide Damping System Worth It?

Obviously, there’s cost. Though MagneRide is standard on the GT350s, it’s still an upgrade on all other Mustangs. Adding an aftermarket system though is significantly more expensive and though it’s possible, it’s not a very convenient upgrade.

If you already had your heart set on an air ride system, there are some things that the air lift suspensions are capable of that the magnetic ones aren’t, like slamming your car to the ground at your next car show. There’s no point getting a MagneRide if your very next move is going to be changing out the suspension.

Every upgrade is worth considering in light of your individual needs and uses, but it’s tough to imagine someone whose life wouldn’t be improved by an upgraded suspension like this. Even if you just cruise your neighborhood on Sunday afternoons, the magnetic suspension will be more comfortable and less likely to wear out. In terms of everyday practicalities and enjoying your car? It’s tough to beat the MagneRide suspension for either cost or comfort.

Sources: Tested: 2018 Ford Mustang GT Manual, Car and Driver | How Magnets Make the Camaro ZL1 Dance Around a Race Track, Jalopnik | Tech Talk: What Is Magnetic Ride Control?, New York Daily News | For Cadillac and Corvette Fans: Exploring the History of GM's Magnetic Ride Control, MotorTrend | How Car Suspensions Work, How Stuff Works

Image Credits: Ford Nxt | Autocar | New Atlas | MagneRide

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