Manufacturers spend thousands of dollars and have clocked tons of man-hours into figuring out how to make diesel trucks do what they do. These trucks are designed to haul and tow things safely while maintaining good handling characteristics. The original suspension on your truck allows for this. But, when you’re fully loaded, the weight can shift to the rear, lightening the front of the truck (which can affect steering) aiming your headlights higher into view, and potentially bottom out the rear suspension.
If you’ve seen an overloaded truck, you know what I’m talking about. There are remedies out there for this, but the one we’re about to highlight sticks out. Roadmaster Active Suspension (RAS) offers a system that can be bolted on in just a small amount of time. No welding or fabrication is required. This kit claims to fix many issues, including squatting, in a matter of minutes.
What About Airbags?
I know what you’re thinking. What about airbags? Isn’t that the go-to option? Airbags are, and always will be, a very popular option. But the RAS system, makes you consider there is another viable option. When you dissect the design, they really make a good point as to why this is better. To better understand this system, we reached out to RAS to learn more.
“Because of the market size and demand for pickup trucks, RAS is often compared to Airbags or the traditional helper spring upgrade,” says Nolan Mast, director of marketing for RAS. “Although our system greatly reduces rear squat, it does so much more. Comparing Roadmaster Active Suspension with air bag/helper type suspension upgrades is not a true apples-to-apples comparison. Put simply, RAS offers all the same benefits as air bags, helper springs, sway bars, and traction bars, all in one unique product.”
This system has been fine-tuned to match each pickup truck so the springs will work for whatever you’re doing. A RAS system can be bought for between $400 and $600. Each system is similar, but unlike the airbag or helper spring system, this doesn’t require the rigamarole of an installation. With basic tools and less than an hour of labor, they claim to be ready for any job.
Why I Hate My Airbags
As someone who is an advocate for airbags, and also someone who has never used the RAS product before, I was intrigued by its design. I want to have a rig that exhibits safe driving characteristics, even load handling, and more. Could I really get what I needed with less money and time? We’ll get to that momentarily. But first, I want to talk about why the airbags on my personal truck are a pain in the rear.
If I throw my race truck onto my new 22′ lowboy gooseneck trailer, the truck will obviously squat in the rear. The weight of the truck on the tongue of the trailer does just that. This isn’t a surprise to anyone. What I do then is air up the airbags to the comfortable amount that gets me to level, and off I go. Here is the problem, though.
When I get home from a night of racing, I pull the truck and trailer into my parking spot and unhook it all. It’s late at night and I’m ready to be home. With the trailer and truck disconnected, now my truck is free to roam. The airbags are full of air and the truck rides like a log wagon. Not good. It’s so bad that I don’t even want to drive it sometimes.
I know what you’re thinking. “Why don’t you just let the air out?” Well, I could, but I would have to do it manually because I don’t have a controller. I could get one, but that is an additional cost. Yeah, it’s laziness, but you see what I mean. I’m sure there are more of you out there that know what I”m talking about. Here is where the RAS system catches my attention. You get the benefits of an airbag system, except when you take the load off, the leaf springs go back to normal, reissuing the factory ride characteristics. That has me excited.
On top of frequently adding or removing air from the bags, you also need to constantly monitor the pressure to ensure your load will be level or to maintain a comfortable ride. Again, not the end of the world, but for a supposed quick install, inexpensive add-on, with no adjustments needed, this has to be the real deal. Luckily for me, Nolan at RAS said, “Try it. Put it on a truck and tell us what you think.
Quick Install, Eh?
One of the biggest attributes of this system is its ease of installation. When we did the airbag install, it took a few hours to get everything into place, all of the airlines run, etc. I wanted to see just how fast we could get this system onto a truck. Frantically ripping the box open, I was excited to see our new upgrade. Simply put, there they were.
You can see that each component of this system is heavy-duty and large in construction. At a glance, you know that this will handle whatever you throw at it. On one end, you have the big ‘meat hook’ side where the RAS spring will attach to the rear of the factory spring. On the other end, you have the plate and hardware that will grab ahold of the U-bolt area and secure the system to your rear axle.
Before you can install this, it is important to identify a few different things. First, you need to make sure your truck is on a clean and level surface. Once it is, you can start to raise the rear of the truck high enough so you can allow the leaf spring system to hang, taking off all of the stress of the springs. Once fully unsprung, you’re ready to go.
Once you’ve got the system attached, you can turn the spring by hand until it gets tight. Once it is tight, you can then use a socket or wrench to tighten it up to the preferred spring load. RAS will supply you with pucks of different thicknesses that will show you what percentage of load the springs are set at. Obviously, the thicker the gap between the spring coils, the more pressure there is on the spring.
Tow Ready In Minutes
I was hesitant about the claim touting how easy this kit is to install, but after doing it, wow is all I can say. It literally took 15 to 20 minutes to have both sides on and tight the way I wanted. As I mentioned earlier, I followed the simple steps and they were spot on. I can already tell just by bouncing on the truck, they are working to keep it at a safe, level spot.
For those of you who have a fifth-wheel camper, gooseneck, or bumper-pull equipment trailer (within reason) or really load the bed down for a trip into the wilderness, this kit is for you. Ford, GMC, Chevrolet, RAM, Nissan, and Toyota all have support from Roadmaster Active Suspension. If you look back at our interview with AMERICANDURAMAX on YouTube, you’ll see where he vouched for this system.
AMERICANDURAMAX: “Honestly, the installation is easier than it looks. Seriously. Not having to pay for a shop to do this makes these very attractive. When you compare this system to an airbag system or any other rear-load system, this is just so much simpler. This is why I’ve got them on both of my trucks now. Why wouldn’t you?”
We have plans to load this truck down and show you on-road performance and our impression of how it works with a trailer behind us. Stay tuned for the next update as we dive deeper into Roadmaster Active Suspension‘s upgrade. Does your truck have a suspension helper back there? What do you use? Let us know in the comments below!
For more information about Roadmaster Active Suspension, check out their website here.