Towing is how we as truck guys get large loads from Point A to Point B. Once we have a trailer and a hitch selected, we think we’re ready to start hauling cargo. But the real question is – are our trucks ready?
One product that’s important for a towing rig is air springs, and Firestone Industrial Products has a top-of-the-line offering in its Ride-Rite series of air springs. Air springs, more than just facilitating heavy-duty towing, are also remarkable in other ways. We spoke with Firestone’s Paul Fessel to learn more about the Ride-Rite series and what it brings to the table.
What Air Springs Offer
While some truck trims offer air suspension from the factory, most come in plain old leaf-spring setups. When people hook up 12,000-pound trailers to these trucks, they’re rolling the dice that the suspension will hold up, as every additional tow outing will add up over time and start to wear down the vehicle in one way or another.
“Some of the common problems people will see are quickly wearing brakes and worn-out shock absorbers,” said Fessel. “When a truck tows heavy loads, it also starts to camber out the tires, and that results in uneven wear on the tires.”
Even if the truck is being loaded within what the manufacturer says is the maximum recommended weight, there can be issues. “People think it’s just a fact of life that they have to live with these issues, but we have a solution,” said Fessel.
When it comes to what separates the Ride-Rite system from the competition, Fessel said, “Firestone is the original patent holder of air springs. We’re the world’s largest manufacturer, and we supply air springs – Airide – to everything from over-the-road semi trucks down to pickups. We’ve taken what we’ve learned to survive in the most arduous, demanding cargo hauling applications, and scaled it down to put it into the Ride-Rite kit. It’s the same rubber and reinforcing cords, the same corrosion-resistant material; there are unique features to our product that no one else has.”
The Different Types of Ride-Rite And Supplemental Parts
Currently, the Ride-Rite kits break down into two main types: standard and Extreme Duty (RED Label). “For most pickups and day-to-day driving, Ride-Rite is the ideal solution. Most of the kits are rated for up to 100 psi and will level up to 5,000 pounds. The Ride-Rite Extreme Duty (RED) kits are rated for up to 150 psi and will level up to 7,500 pounds. The RED kits receive better high-strength steel brackets, grade 8 hardware, and so on. Everything in the RED kit is just more robust and is really intended for extreme users – logging trucks, agricultural, oil field workers.”
But having the Ride-Rite kit, whichever one you choose, is best served with the right parts for the job. Specifically, an onboard air compressor – the Air-Rite – is what we’re talking about. “The added convenience of an onboard air compressor is nice to have,” said Fessel. “It allows users to change the air pressure, and therefore the ride quality on the fly.”
Ultimately, the Ride-Rite systems are intended as much as a towing assist as they are a suspension assist. “People often do a lot to their trucks to get them ready to pull, like auxiliary transmission coolers and extended mirrors, but the suspension is overlooked,” said Fessel. “With just a few hours of work, our no-drill kits go on and greatly enhance the ride quality and capability when towing.”