Does your rear end sag? If so, you might need a lift. An airbag suspension lift that is. Airbag suspension for RV trailers and fifth-wheels will give you a smoother, safer ride and a better looking rear end on your tow truck.
Towable RVs are bigger and roomier than ever. You can take just about anything you need on the road and all your toys, but you’ll pay the price. Hitching an extremely heavy load to your tow truck changes the driving experience. The expensive, dangerous results include:
- A misaligned front end
- Excessive, uneven tire wear
- Reduced steering and breaking control
Don’t wait to encounter a hazardous driving condition when you’re towing. If you notice odd wear patterns on your tire and the rear end on your tow truck appears saggy when the RV is hitched up, it’s probably time for a tow truck suspension upgrade. The most popular is an airbag (or “air spring”) suspension mod.
Truckers have known about the benefits of “riding on air” for over 40 years, but the RV industry is just now catching on. In the past, people would add steel springs to the tow truck’s suspension to better distribute load weight. But this resulted in a rough ride when the truck wasn’t towing. Today’s air bag suspension mods are the best way that truckers, RVers, and anyone towing a trailer can enjoy superior leveling capacity and improved ride comfort. Installing air bags is a simple job you can do with few tools and just a few hours of your time.
How to choose and install an air bags kit for your truck and hitch
Before choosing an airbags kit you’ll need to find out which one works with your tow truck and trailer hitch. For fifth-wheels and gooseneck hitches, you want an under-frame mounted kit. Before buying anything it’s best to talk to your hitch manufacturer and truck dealer to find out which ones work with your particular set-up.
Many airbag kits like the AIR LIFT 57295 LoadLifter 5000 Series Rear Air Spring Kit don’t require tools or special expertise to get the job done. For most kits like this, you’ll only need about $300 and these tools:
- Socket wrenches
- Allen wrench set
- Screwdriver (or nutdriver)
- Drill (optional, depending on location of air fill valve)
- Air compressor
Airbag suspension mods for RV trailers and fifth-wheels require just six simple steps:
- Remove jounce bumpers
- Assemble airbags
- Mount frame brackets
- Attach bags to frame & axle
- Attach heat shield to muffler
- Install air lines & test for leaks
If your truck doesn’t have high clearance, be sure to put it on jacks. When doing so, be sure to set the jack stands as wide as possible on the axle or use lift points to avoid impeding upon the mounting bracket locations.
Sometimes airbag suspension mods for RV need fine-tuning. For example, if your ride is too rough when your trailer is detached, you might consider adding an automatic self-leveling system to your air brake system.
A kit like the SmartAir Automatic Leveling System by Air Lift uses a magnetic sensor to sense the weight of the trailer on the truck. It automatically inflates and deflates the air bags according to load weight.
Air bag suspension for RV trailers and fifth-wheels are worth the extra investment. You’ll immediately notice a difference in how your truck looks, drives and feels when braking. As a bonus, your passengers will thank you for a smoother ride.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.