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Self-Repair Corvette Magnetic Ride Control

Technically Speaking: Is Magnetic Ride Control Really Worth the Extra Cost?

James Berry Jun 6, 2017
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Q I need input from someone who has experience with the C7 Stingray. I am getting ready to order a new Stingray Coupe Z51 and am wanting to know is the Magnetic Ride Control really worth the extra cost? I am not interested in gadgets or things that are so complicated that they are always in the shop for repair. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Mike

A Mike, the answer is “Yes.” You do want Magnetic Ride Control Suspension on your new Stingray. This technology made its debut in the middle of the 2002 model year on the Cadillac Seville STS and then the following year made its way onto the Corvette. Magnetic Ride Control has been on the road for several years now and has passed the test of time with few mechanical problems.

The unbelievable speed at which it can change the damping rate of the shocks makes you feel like the car is driving on rails. In years past, if we wanted to achieve good handling we had to upgrade the suspension, which made the vehicle stiff and uncomfortable for day-to-day driving.

Vehicles equipped with the latest generation of the Magnetic Ride Control damping system can bridge the gap from a relaxing ride to a track setup with the turn of a knob using its monotube shocks. These shocks are filled with a special magnetorheological fluid that is teaming with iron particles. By the use of electromagnetic coils these shocks can be magnetized at different rates allowing the fluid thickness to be changed several times per second depending on vehicle and driver demand. So, by raising the thickness this increases the oil’s viscosity. This in turn affects damping force.

Corvette Technically Speaking Magnetic Ride Control 2 2/2

The Magnetic Ride Control suspension developed by Delphi is now in its third generation. This system is relatively simple in its design. Basically, a suspension module monitors the suspension height on all four corners of the vehicle through the use of height sensors. These height sensors use a potentiometer (variable resistor or voltage diverters) signaling the suspension module of a change in position. Think of these sensors like a dimmer switch in your home, as you move the dimmer switch it allows more or less voltage to travel through the switch and in turn the lights become brighter or dimmer.

The suspension module not only monitors suspension height but it also communicates with other modules through a serial data link so it can observe things like speed, steering wheel position, yaw rate, lateral accelerometers, engine torque, braking, etc. Based on all of these different inputs the suspension module can send a varying current to each shock to control the damping rate of the vehicle. (This current can vary from 0-5 amps.)

It controls the damping rate by the use of electromagnetic coils in the shocks. These shocks can be magnetized at different strengths, allowing the fluid thickness to be changed several times per second depending on vehicle and driver demand. The shocks are adjusted individually and independently from each other.

The electronically controlled shock absorbers have a tendency to weep, causing a light oil film to build up on the shock body, which can attract dirt and dust. This is not a problem and the film and dirt/dust can be wiped off. It is also normal for the top portion of the reservoir to have a light oil film.

So, if there is a problem with the system a fault code will usually be set and diagnostic of this fault is like any other fault code. As for the shocks, they are serviced as complete assemblies.

So Mike, the Magnetic Ride Control option is simple to use with only three settings: Tour, Sport and Track. It has few problems and is also simple to repair for an experienced technician. Did I forget to mention this option makes your driving experience exhilarating!

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