Stop The Squat - Towing Suspension UpgradesPosted in How To: Suspension Brakes on June 1, 2013
If you use your pickup for hauling more than just tail, then you’ve likely noticed the rear will squat or sag under heavy loads. While you should never exceed your pickup’s GCWR (gross combined weight rating), it’s not uncommon for a trucks rear to drop as you near its max-load rating. Most stock trucks are actually engineered with a slight nose-down rake to offset this hauling characteristic. The squatting rear generally doesn’t become as big of an issue until a leveling or lift kit is installed.
As the rear of the truck sags, it causes the front to shoot skyward. This nose-high setup alters the handling dynamic of the vehicle, which can be worse when towing. To combat this less-than-desirable squatting problem, there are an assortment of load-leveling devices available from the aftermarket. Gathered here is a few of the many rear helpful-hauling solutions that range from quick and easy to costly and complex. All have their place and are designed to solve your squatting woes and create a safer tow rig.
Adding helper air bags to the rear of your pickup is a safe and easy way to support additional tongue and bed weight. Kits such as the Ride-Rite system from Firestone are designed to handle up to 5,000 pounds, and most systems are completely bolt-on. Many of the kits have controller options that allow you to easily adjust the bags from inside of the cab. Spacer kits are available for lifted truck applications.
One of the most inexpensive and easiest ways to get a little lift from the rear of your truck is by installing an add-a-leaf. An add-a-leaf, such as the ones available from Rancho Suspension, is placed within your truck’s spring pack to help increase support and lift. In addition to basic add-a-leaf kits, Rancho offers a Lev-A-Load system that bolts to the top of your truck’s leaf springs. The Lev-A-Load system is designed to aid your factory springs, reduce body roll, and is said not to affect the factory ride (in most cases) when unloaded.
Info: Rancho Suspension
For those towing and hauling loads on a daily basis, an upgrade to a Kelderman Air Ride four-link conversion may be worth the investment. The bolt-on kits replace the stock leaf springs in the rear of your truck with a multilink suspension and Firestone air bags. In addition to handling the load-carrying requirements of late-model 1-ton dually trucks, the parallel trailing-arm system is said to reduce the wrapping effects that can be had with traditional leafs. The four-bag systems offer an in-cab controller and everything you need to complete the conversion.
Leveling your truck is great for everyday driving and hitting the trail, but it doesn’t help when hauling loads. A cost-effective way to get the factory rake back into your 4x4 is to add a 1-inch rear block. Such block kits can even be optioned with leveling kits from companies like Zone Offroad Products. This combo of a mild block and leveling kit is not only an inexpensive lift, but a great way to keep your truck from going noise high when hauling.
Info: Zone Offroad Products
Many late-model suspension systems focus on increasing the vertical wheeltravel of your workhorse. This is great when it comes to improving the off-road performance and ride, but the long-travel springs can come at a loss to your payload. For those looking to have their hauling and performance needs satisfied, Carli Suspension offers long-travel air bags for Dodge and Ford ¾- and 1-ton trucks. The bag kits allow for 10 inches of travel and are designed to support the manufacturers’ suggest payload.
Info: Carli Suspension
Another non-pneumatic load-leveling solution comes from Roadmaster Active Suspension. The Roadmaster system is comprised of a set of variable-rate coil springs which are engineered to add stability and support to your trucks factory leaf springs. The bolt-on suspension upgrade is said to reduce axlewrap and body roll, along with actively adjusting to increasing load forces.
Info: Roadmaster Active Suspension
Another item that can help keep your tow rig level without modifying its suspension system is a weight-distributing hitch. Weight-distributing hitches such as those offered by Valley Industries utilize a unique ball mount and stabilizing arms to help balance the weight of the tow rig and trailer. The idea is to couple the trailer and tow rig so that the load is more evenly distributed over the wheels. Most systems are weight-specific and require limited tooling to install.
Info: Valley Industries