Bring it On
Preparing your pickup’s suspension to carry the heavy loads

By Larry Walton / Editorial Services Staff Writer - Special to Talkin'Trucks.com

The odds are pretty good that the stock suspension on your truck is quite good until you load it down with landscaping materials, building supplies, or, during the summer and fall, maybe that slide-in pickup camper. Then the suspension—and your pickup’s handling—are tasked to the limit.

That’s what after market suspension upgrades are all about; there are a number of new products designed to improve stability and handling when your pickup is heavily loaded.

Keep in mind that any improvements you make to your trucks suspension should not be with the goal of exceeding the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).  Much more goes into calculating the GVWR than suspension capabilities like braking ability and axle strength.

Here are some of the latest suspension upgrade products to make your new pickup even be a better load hauler than it is---without taking away little, if anything, from that stock ride. 

 Air Lift RoadTamer

Air Lift brings semi truck technology to its RoadTamer suspension system by replacing the stock steel leaf springs with air springs similar to those used on the big rigs.  The goal of the RoadTamer design is to combine both comfortable ride and increased control, according to the company.

When the truck is loaded, the system automatically senses the truck sagging and turns on the compressor, filling the air springs to level the truck.  When the truck is unloaded, the system again senses the height change and releases air from the air bags. 

The automatic air suspension system fits ¾- to 1 ½-ton pickups.  The system comes with a two-year limited warranty.  RoadTamer carries an MSRP of $2,179.00 for the ¾ and 1-ton versions; $2749.00 for the 1 ½-ton kit; plus approximately $500 for installation.  Air Lift, (800) 248-0892, www.airliftcompany.com

Air Lift SureSet

The SureSet Load Controller System is a digital electronic air management system that monitors and adjusts air pressure in air helper spring systems.  The system features a set-point memory, which automatically maintains the driver-selected air pressure. Change your load and reset your pressure conveniently with the dash-mounted control unit and SureSet will automatically maintain the new pressure setting.  It’s like cruise control for air springs, according to the manufacturer.

Each kit includes all components for a complete install: 12V compressor, solenoid block, cab control unit and all lines and fittings. Installation time is about one hour; an illustrated installation manual is included.  MSRP $399.  Air Lift, (800) 248-0892, www.airliftcompany.com

Viair 90C Air Compressor

This compact and highly efficient 90C Air Compressor was built specifically for vehicles with Air Assist setups. The 90 Series Compressor is rated at 9% duty cycle @ 100 psi, with a rated working pressure of 120 psi.  Recovery rate on the 90C Compressor, from 85 psi to 105 psi on a 1 Gallon tank is roughly ½ Minute. No worries if you have a tight space, the 90 Series compressor can be mounted in any position under a vehicle, since it is oil-less and moisture & dust resistant. MSRP $75. Viair, (800)618-1994, www.viaircorp.com

Superlift Torque Max Traction Bars

You might associate traction bars with drag racing but they also provided added stability to loaded vehicles.  Superlift’s Torque Max traction bars feature frame mounted ends, which rotate to compensate for uneven sideloads generated when cornering.  This also helps prevent destructive torsional loads from being transferred to the frame, according to the manufacturer.  Applications are currently available for many Chevy/GMC, Ford and Dodge pickups. MSRP $ 725. Superlift, (800)551-4955, www.superlift.com

Superlift Select Monotube Shocks

The digressive design of Superlift’s SS shock uses a unique piston/valve assembly that permits independent damping between compression and rebound cycles, quickening reaction time regardless of vehicle speed, according to the company.  This means firmer does not have to be rougher. Made with induction-hardened steel shafts, the shocks employ other major components that are machined to precise tolerances as well. All bodies have a brushed finish and are silver zinc-plated to resist corrosion. A black boot is included with each SS shock. MSRP $115 each.  Superlift, (800)551-4955, www.superlift.com

Timbren SES Suspension Enhancement System

Timbren SES Suspension Enhancement System improves the suspension performance of all Pickups, RV’s, Vans and SUVs. Unlike helper springs or air springs, Timbren Suspension Enhancement System starts to work only when called for.  The extra support insures stability, improved handling and comfort, according to the manufacturer.  The system is easy to install, and provides exceptional maintenance free and trouble free performance of your vehicle.  MSRP $ 299. Timbren, (800)263-3113, www.timbren.com

ARB Old Man Emu Greasable Shackles

Shackles and pins should be greased periodically for longevity.  ARB made this quick and easy by including grease fittings on their shackles. This part is currently available for the Toyota Tacoma and several SUVs.  ARB is currently developing suspension parts for full size domestic trucks.  MSRP $115.  ARB, (866) 293-9084, www.arbusa.com

ARB Old Man Emu Leaf Springs

Currently available for the Toyota Tacoma with more models on the way, ARB’s leaf spring add-ons bring added stability and improved leveling to loaded vehicles.  MSRP $ 240.  ARB, (866) 293-9084, www.arbusa.com

KONI FSD Shocks

KONI says they’ve added a special parallel flow control valve that filters out high frequency vibrations before they enter the vehicle.  That’s how they are able to make a shock that provides firm suspension without giving up comfort.  Frequency Selective Dampening (FSD) adjusts automatically to road conditions and driving styles. This new product is available for the GMC Kodiak/Topkick  MSRP $198.  KONI, (866)566-4175, www.konirv.com

AMTECH RollGard Stabilizer

Unlike a common "helper spring", the RG Stabilizer by RollGard Performance Suspension uses patented Counter Spring Technology (CST) to counteract the motion of the existing leaf springs, thereby reducing side-to-side sway, according to the company.  When a leaf spring equipped vehicle enters a turn, the outside spring compresses, while the inside springs extends.  Because the RG Stabilizer provides opposing resistance to these motions, it prevents excessive body roll and helps the vehicle recover more readily from sway. MSRP $ 395.  AMTECH, (888) 880-8949, www.amtechsprings.com

Skyjacker Suspension Lift

Although best known for their big lifts like this 8.5” Class II Suspension Lift for the 2005 Ford Super Duty, Skyjacker has a huge variety of less radical kits that can also be a big help in load handling improvement.  System includes new track bar relocation bracket, bump stops, Softride front Coil Springs, heavy-duty greaseable upper and lower control arms, single steering stabilizer, control arm mounting brackets for the frame and axle, plus Softride rear springs.  According to the company the system bolts on easily and requires no welding.  MSRP $  www.skyjacker.com

CAGE Offroad 2” Leveling Lift

CAGE Offroad says their products are specifically designed for heavy use and the needs associated with the loads placed on a vehicle during heavy hauling and towing.  Included in their line-up is this billet aluminum 2" leveling lift for the 1994-2005 solid axle Dodge 4x4. MSRP $165.  CAGE Offroad, (866)587-2243, www.cageoffroad.com

Daystar Comfort Ride Spacers

Daystar’s Comfort Ride spacers are formed from Durathane Progressive Polyurethane for an excellent ride quality.  The Complete Comfort Ride kit will level the

truck without changing the ride or effecting the hauling capacity. Daystar’s Comfort Ride spacers are formed from Durathane. Lifts are available for 94-01 Dodge 1500-3500 4wd and 02-03 Dodge 2500-3500 4wd includes Cummins Deisel (extended shocks recommended on 2500-3500 models).  MSRP $155. Daystar Products, (800)595-7659,

www.daystarweb.com