Vehicle suspension is a tricky subject for heavier vehicles. If you use your truck or SUV for towing or hauling, its good to understand the ins and outs of suspension. If your load gets unevenly distributed, you could have some troublesome safety issues as you drive.
You may have heard a little about the various types of suspension and helpers on the market. Air bag suspension is one of the most common additions to the list of options, though it’s not new. Let’s learn a little more about truck air bags.
What Do Air Bags Do?
When you hear “air bags,” a few different things might come to mind. First, the airbags that pop out of your car’s dash when you have a collision are not the same ones we are talking about here. We are also not referring to the air ride feature you typically find on larger commercial vehicles. We are referring to air helper bags that work to either add support to your spring suspension or provide lift above your leaf springs.
This type of air bag works to stabilize and level out your vehicle when you add heavy loads. Whether it be from a lot of gear, a trailer, or a camper, the weight of your truck and the things you tow need to be evenly distributed. If it’s not, lag happens. Lag can affect the safety of your steering, braking, and the integrity of your rear axle.
How Helper Air Bags Get Installed
Helper air bags usually get installed on top of or next to the existing springs in the vehicle. These bags are not designed to take the entire weight of the vehicle themselves but assist the existing springs. The kit you choose will come with a means to attach the bags to the vhicles frame.
The air bags then need to be connected to an air fill supply line. These lines can be connected to an on board air pump or a valve for an exterior air pump. Exterior air fill is a cheaper option as you can use the same pump you would for inflating your tires, however its not as quick as an on board unit.
IMPORTANT: While its easiest to tie the air bags on either side of the vehicle together in one tee so only one fill is required, its not advised to do so. The reason is that when the vehicle sways to one side the air will just compress out to the other bag. This can have a negative impact on vehicle sway instead of a positive one.
How Long Will Truck Air Bags Last?
Depending on who makes your air bag suspension parts, your system could last over 100,000 miles. We personally used our firestone ride rite for over 100,000 miles without any leaks. This was not off road use however and more for highway stability. In terms of time, it should last you about a decade before you need to replace the bags. Its usually more of a rubber degredation issue that a wear issue. Just like tires the bags will degrade naturally over time.
How to Choose the Right Truck Air Bags
When choosing air bags for your truck, it all stems from your vehicle’s setup. You have to know what type of suspension system it already has and what your truck’s engine can handle towing.
It wouldn’t be wise to install extra towing capabilities if your truck’s engine can’t handle the work. Make sure to line up all aspects of your new air bag setup before sinking all your money into a purchase.
Pro Tip: Unsure What Is Air Suspension? We took a closer look at all you need to know.
6 Best Truck Air Bags
The best way to ensure the right choice is to do some research before settling your mind or wallet. Take a moment to look into these top-rated truck air bags, and use the information you gather to help you get a better idea of what your truck needs.
#1 Air Lift 57398 LoadLifter 5000 Air Suspension Kit
About: These adjustable air helper springs work to level your load. And they’ll give you more control and a more comfortable ride while hauling. They help to eliminate sag, sway, and bottoming out. The kit comes with everything you need to complete the installation. You even get a handy instruction manual to guide you through the process.
- Fully adjustable air springs to level your vehicle when towing or...
- Up to 5,000 pounds of load leveling capability
- Easy to install with included detailed instructions
Features: LoadLifter 5000 kits can help tow the heaviest loads. They have up to 5,000 pounds of leveling capacity, and you can adjust them from 5 to 100 PSI. You get a limited lifetime warranty and a 60-day ride satisfaction guarantee on these air bags.
#2 Firestone Ride-Rite
About: Firestone’s Ride-Rite helper springs kit works best for light trucks, vans, and various motorhomes. These air springs have a carrying capacity of between 3,200 and 5,000 pounds. The kit comes with everything you need to install, and Firestone has various kits available for a range of vehicles.
- Fits 2007-2022 Toyota Tundra 2WD / 4WD
- This Air Bag Helper Spring Kit Is Direct Oem Replacement To...
- It is designed to maximize the vehicle's safe load-carrying...
Features: The Firestone Ride-Rite kit includes air springs, an air line, fasteners, upper and lower brackets, inflation valves, push-to-connect air fittings, and detailed instructions.
#3 Waverspeed LoadLifter 5000
About: Waverspeed Loadlifter 5000 air bags assist in load stability for Ford F250, 350, and 450 Super Duty 4×4 trucks. Specifically, this kit fits 2011 through 2014 models. It offers 5,000 pounds of leveling capacity for trucks with leaf springs.
- 【Applications】: for Ford F250 F350 F450 Super Duty 2011-2014...
- 【Fitment Notice】: ▶Note: Does not fit for cab & chassis...
- 【Load Leveling Capacity】: Up to 5,000 pounds, provide a...
Features: This truck air bag set reduces sag and rear bounce and can replace your factory jounce bumper. However, we recommend professional installation for this kit.
#4 Airmaxxx Air Over Load Tow Kit & Compressor
About: This is one of the more expensive but very well-equipped kits. It mounts onto Chevy Silverado and Sierra 1500, year models 2007 through 2018. However, it won’t fit on a truck with a rear sway bar.
Features: Airmaxxx Air Over Load Tow Kit has a 5,000-pound leveling capacity. It includes an air suspension compressor and fits most fifth wheel and gooseneck hitches.
#5 Pacbrake Alpha XD 7500 Air Suspension
About: The Pacbrake Alpha kit is a super heavy-duty air suspension assembly rated for a 7,500-pound leveling capacity. This truck air bags kit works for Dodge, Ford, GMC, and Chevy pickup trucks. And it fits the three-quarter-ton and one-ton pickups, making it a pretty flexible setup.
- Popular model can operate a wide variety of appliances, including...
- Super quiet: so quiet, your neighbors will thank you; the...
- Fuel efficient runs up to 20 hours on 3.4 Gal. of fuel: thanks to...
- ALPHA XD 7500 air springs are the only air springs on the market...
- The big 7-inch double convoluted bellow type air springs have...
- Each Pacbrake Double Convoluted Air Spring Suspension Kit is...
Features: Like any good kit, the Pacbrake Air Suspension kit comes with all the components you’ll need to get it hooked up and working well on your truck in no time.
Pro Tip: After upgrading your trucks suspension, find out What Mods You Should Do to Your Truck.
#6 Timbren Suspension Enhancement
About: The Timbren Suspension Enhancement kit is rated for a 6,000-pound leveling capacity. It’s a good investment for DIY truck owners, and you can install this kit using only a set of basic hand tools. It’s less expensive than the other setups on the list at around $250 per unit.
- Package dimensions :10.5" L x8.5" W x6.0" H
- Country of origin :Canada
- Package weight :10.0pounds
Features: It has a lifetime warranty on this air bag suspension setup. And it has no airlines or fittings to allow leakage.
How Do Air Bags Improve Your Suspension And Ride?
Now that you know a little about air bag suspension, you can make your way through your journey of learning about proper towing safety. Adding air bags to your suspension system will help evenly distribute the weight of a towing load and keep your vehicle from sagging in the rear. And you could even save your back axle from getting overloaded or broken.
Do you think your truck would benefit from adding air bag suspension? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
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Tuesday 31st of January 2023
Very happy with the Timbren SES system on my truck. Really helped stabilize the ride with my camper. Good choice if you don’t want a compressor system.
Mortons on the Move
Wednesday 8th of February 2023
Thanks for your comment, Thats great to know. The air system is one more failure point.
Tuesday 31st of January 2023
How do I use an onboard compressor without teeing them together. Thanks. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Dave
Saturday 25th of March 2023
@Mortons on the Move, tying the bags together will not cause sway and separating them will not prevent it. Heavy trucks tie each axle to a single leveling valve and if it isn't a problem for a top heavy dump truck with 3/4 inch lines. it will not be an issue for a supplemental suspension with 1/4 inch lines.
Mortons on the Move
Wednesday 8th of February 2023
You can use two separate lines with two separate fill valves, or valves to just shut off the individual bags after T'd if you are just trying to prevent sway. That's what we did on our current truck. Our first truck we had two separate lines with two separate fills and no onboard air compressor. On our coach, there are individual valves for each bag side so they isolate from the tank.