Air Bags

Discussion in 'Trucks and Trailers' started by mowerbrad, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,268

    Alright, so I've been looking into adding air bags to my truck's rear suspension. I don't have much of a problem of sagging, its really only noticeable when I'm towing both mowers or in the fall when I have a full trailer of leaves, plus a full size ztr. After reading more into air bags, I think they may be a good investment, for a reasonable price too.

    My only concern is that I am going to sacrifice ride quality of my truck. From what I've read, they will improve the ride when towing and even improve handling. But I'm more concerned with the ride quality when the truck is unloaded and not towing. Since my truck is my personal truck first and work truck second, I don't want to have a super stiff ride while I'm commuting or traveling. I love the ride of my truck now, very smooth and not so "truck like", but I'm afraid that if I put air bags on that I will just stiffen up my ride too much and I will no longer have a smooth riding truck.

    I don't plan on installing an on board compressor (just too expensive), so I will have to fill the air bags while I'm at home or if I take a compressor with me.

    Any thoughts/comments from users...?
  2. modedicebox

    modedicebox LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 279

    I have a set on my 08 F250. It did change the ride some but it wasn't a caddy to begin with. When loaded down with my vbox and salt it rides and handles the weight awesome. I wouldn't work with out them...
  3. unkownfl

    unkownfl LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,837

    Have you thought about using a Weight distributing hitch system.
  4. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,268

    My truck already has a weight distributing hitch on it, which does help. When I'm just towing the trailer and my main mower, there is minimal sag and the truck tows wonderfully. However, its when the weight increases and I have a full trailer of equipment/debris/etc. that I notice more sagging of the rear end. When I had both mowers on the trailer as well as a pile of grass up front, I noticed the most sag and could feel a definate difference in handling.

    I have thought about adding a helper spring in the rear but I just think that is going to hurt my ride quality too much. I was thinking that with the air bags, since they are adjustable as far as PSI goes, I can adjust them a little bit to help with the ride depending on if I have a load or not. But from what I understand I have to keep a minimum PSI in the bags, which I am unsure whether that minimum level will hurt the ride quality or not?

    I know I'm extremely picky.
  5. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,008

    You only need to keep a few PSI in the bags. The reason for this is because on most trucks you will be removing the bump stops. The air bags will now be your bump stops but if they are empty you would have no bump stop to prevent damage to the airbags or other components.
  6. MDLawn

    MDLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    First bold highlight - Do you use the weight distibution systems as in the special draw bar, weight distribution bars, and the part that hooks on to the trailer A frame? Or are you just referring to the tag on the actual hitch on the truck that reads "Weight Carrying XXXXlbs XXXlbs tongue / Weight Distribution XXXXXlbs XXXXlbs tongue" The hitch on the truck just tells you the capacities of each. You need the whole set up for it to actually be a full weight distribution set up.....

    Second bold highlight - helper springs are constantly there. Some are progressive and some are helping right from the get go. But the consensus is that they will stiffen the ride.

    Get the air bags. I had them on my 250 and helped with the sag from a fully loaded dump trailer. Then when done just let the air down to 5 or 10 psi (as recommended not to let all the air out) and the truck rode like normal. I did upgrade the factory ford hitch which was 6000lbs 600lbs tongue weight for weight carrying to a 18,000lb 2000lb tongue for weight carrying capacity. Did i need it? Not sure but I like the big numbers better than the ford numbers. Not to mention the hitch was getting rusty and when you have a 10-12,000lb load behind I dont want the hitch to fail.

    Oh yea the inside compressor......not a neccessity but man it makes it easy and you can adjust on the fly and gives you a constant pressure reading. I think you can do it without the compressor but i would tie the two bags to the same line. That way the both have a consistent pressure. Otherwise if one is leaky your truck will be leaning to one side.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
  7. jdunk

    jdunk LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    put on the air bags thay will help your truck
    also im supprized that you dont carry a cheep plug
    in air compressor with a tire pluging kit (incase you get a flat)
    you can ajust your air bags on the cheep
  8. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,008

    The cheap plug in compressors do not have much power. I have one of the Cambell Hausfeld units that are about $40. The battery dies and then it runs slowly on just the plug in power.

    I want to get one that you hook to the batteries under the hood this time. You bypass all the fuses and get a better power source. You can fill things up several times quicker.

    If I get a flat I throw on the spare and head to Discount Tire to use my protection plan. My mower tires are all filled with some tire slime made in Bay City, TX so I don't need plugs for them either.
  9. GravelyGuy

    GravelyGuy LawnSite Silver Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 2,543

    Mowerbrad, you can run them with a minimum of 5 pounds in them. They will affect your ride very little at this pressure. If this is your daily driver and you plan to deflate them every day then I would recomend you get the onboard compressor. Or just man up it's a truck:p
  10. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,008

    A good firm suspension will have you feeling like your driving a 8000 lb. sports car. If I'm towing heavy sporadically I run 100 psi and leave it that way. Just don't drive down any crappy roads or the truck will bounce around and drive you nuts :dizzy:.

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