Upgrading Coil Springs To Improve Towing And Hauling Capability

When it comes to hauling a heavy load or towing a heavy trailer, your truck must have a suspension that is up to the task. Until 2014, the rear suspension in all heavy-duty pickups was comprised of parallel leaf springs. However, in 2014, Ram flipped the pickup truck world on its ear when they started to deliver their 2500 trucks with rear coil springs.

I’m not here to start a debate about whether leaf springs or coil springs are a better option. What I am here to discuss is a great upgrade I found for the OE coil springs for Project WorkHorse. While the OE coil springs are technically fine, upgraded springs from SuperSprings International (SSI) have proven to be a better option and I’ll explain why later.

The SSI front springs (left image) are designed to raise the front of the truck 2-1/2 inches, and the rears (right image) keep the stock height.

Pros And Cons Of Coil Springs

There are many benefits to the coil spring and multi-link rear suspension as found in the Ram. For starters, the link bars center the axle while the springs support the load. With a leaf spring truck, the leaves perform double duty by centering the rear and supporting the load. Since a link bar and coil spring suspension splits the duties of locating the axle and holding up the truck, the link bars allow the axle to move up and down and articulate freely while preventing axle wrap during acceleration. With the OE spring rate Ram chose, the coil-spring-equipped trucks offer a smoother ride quality than earlier leaf-sprung trucks. The move seems logical, but there are a few concerns expressed by Ram 2500 owners.

When you start talking about towing, some drawbacks to the system start to emerge. I have heard from a few Ram 2500 owners who have expressed that when carrying a top-heavy load, the truck feels a little less stable than previous generations. The consensus is this is attributed in part to the coil springs being more inboard than leaf springs.

To get the front springs out, the sway bar link needs to be disconnected, the lower shock bolt removed, and the front suspension allowed to hang loose. With the suspension hanging loose, I still needed to use a small bottle jack between the frame and the axle to push down on the axle housing to get the spring out.

While leaf springs are mounted outside the frame rails, Ram installed the coils on the inside of the frame, giving the springs a narrower stance. When pulling light to moderate loads, the Ram 2500 is plenty capable, and its towing ratings are in line with other 3/4-ton trucks.

I have not had the opportunity to haul a top-heavy load with WorkHorse, but I have had many opportunities to haul some loads that pushed the payload limit of my Ram. Even with an empty gooseneck trailer that weighs slightly more than 4,000 pounds, the truck definitely gets lower when I drop the trailer on the ball. When I attach the 40-foot “bumper pull” toy hauler to the receiver hitch, things really drop. It is for this reason, I decided I needed to look into what could be done to improve the load support of the Ram. That is when I found out about SuperSprings International.

Weighing The Options

I first looked at SumoSprings. These are a suspension enhancement that attaches between your frame and axle. They are usable with both leaf and coil spring-equipped trucks. They are manufactured from what is called a micro-cellular polyurethane and are designed to reduce rear-end sag, decrease vibration, stabilize sway, and soften harsh rebounds. SumoSprings are a progressive spring with a very soft initial engagement. What that means is, the more weight added, the harder they become and the more they push back against the load, providing support and control when you need it, without affecting the factory ride when unloaded. They sounded like an option, but after doing a little more research, I learned about the company’s SuperCoils.

SuperCoil coil springs are heavy-duty replacement springs designed as a direct replacement for OE springs and offer better ride and load-handling characteristics. I also learned that SuperCoils have a progressive-rate design as opposed to the OE spring’s linear rate.

Linear Vs. Progressive

coil springs

Linear (OE) spring on the left and progressive (SSI) on the right.

 

Linear springs have a defined spring rate per inch of deflection throughout most of their range of deflection. For instance, if we have a 300 lb/in linear rate spring that is 12 inches long, it will take approximately 300 pounds to deflect it 1 inch. The next inch of deflection will take another 300 pounds of load, and so on.

Progressive rate springs are generally classified into two sub-types. One is a constantly increasing rate spring and the other is a “dual-rate” spring with two linear rates connected with a rate-transition range.

The first type is most often used as “load-compensating springs” on the rear of a vehicle that will often see significant load changes in the cargo area. These are most often stock replacement type suspension springs. They are identified most easily by the continually varied spacing between the coils.

The dual-rate spring is a much more sophisticated design. These springs are easily identified by having a few closely wound coils at one end and then wider, equally spaced coils at the other end. They have rates described as 200/425 lb/in. This means that the spring has an initial rate of 200 lb/in through some range of deflection, and then the rate transitions to 425 lb/in through a deflection range of typically 1 to 2 inches.

“We build our SuperCoils from high-grade American shot-peened steel,” says Tom Bateman of SSI. “In addition, we’ve engineered the springs to have a progressive spring rate. What this means, is, while OE coils are great for an unloaded daily drive, our product is built to give you the best unloaded ride possible as well as a superior ride when loaded or towing. So, we add additional load-leveling capacity (not GVWR) to combat sagging, front-end dip and roll, control sway, and take out body roll. We offer the best of both worlds.”

The Reasoning

In the case of Project WorkHorse, the factory coil springs were not shot, but replacement was required — in my mind — because of the extensive loads I haul. What’s more, I was looking for a way to raise/level the front of the truck. From the factory, all Ram 2500s have a “raked” stance and I prefer a “level” truck.

“For the new Ram 2500, SSI’s front coil springs are not only better than OE, but they are also a leveling kit,” says Tom. They are built to give you a 2-inch higher front end to keep you level when towing — so in this case, you’re able to get more clearance, add bigger wheels and tires, and load up without sagging. That’s why this is a good upgrade to make on a new/newer truck.”

With the decision made to change out the coil springs, I found what I needed at Xtreme Diesel Performance (XDP) and ordered part numbers SSC-25 (fronts) and SSC-52 (rears). Not only are the springs a progressive design that offers a smoother ride, but the capacity of the new springs is 4,437 pounds for the fronts and 2,475 pounds for the rears. As of this writing, you can also order part number JBS-301-01 which will get you both front and rear springs as I installed, as a kit.

The SuperColis are made of a heavier wire spring to help support the weight and reduce sag. The progressive design helps to deliver a better ride even with the heavier spring material.

Finally, I asked Tom what he would say to someone that asked if the SuperCoils will work with airbags, and he had this to say, “airbags are the incumbent — it’s a system that was developed in 1902 with popular companies being used since the late 1940s. It’s the go-to thought and a household name. They definitely have some advantages like adjustability and the ability to drop one side for an ambulance or a school bus. We tout ourselves as the airbag alternative because, with our products, we are the full solution — you don’t need air. It’s fit it and forget it. With no lines, no leaks, no maintenance, and no need to add a compressor or maintain minimum psi, our products are built to keep you level when loaded and towing without negatively affecting you’re unloaded ride comfort. Plus, we’re backed by a lifetime warranty.”

The Bottom Line

SuperSprings made a lot of claims about how well the SuperCoils actually work, and I alluded to my experience at the beginning of this article, and here’s my assessment. As suspected, the installation took roughly three hours to complete. Keep in mind, I was stopping to take pictures.

coil springs

As you let the rearend hang loose to replace the rear springs, make sure the hoses for the brake lines are not stretched beyond their capabilities.

I do need to let you know that once the front springs were swapped, I soon learned that with the nose of the truck now 2 inches higher, the OE shocks are now too short. They will physically bolt into place, but with the suspension at full droop/sag, the shocks will not extend far enough to reinstall the bolt. This means the shock will be fully extended when the front end extends and they will act like a suspension travel stop. This will eventually destroy the shocks. Also, raising the front of the truck has another effect. The stock track bar is not designed for the new height and actually pulls the differential roughly 1/4-inch to the driver’s side. This can be noticed as the driver’s side front tire protrudes past the outer lip of the front fender.

Because of these changes, I ordered a new set of shock absorbers from Bilstein and an adjustable track bar from Rough Country. For shocks, I selected a set of Bilstein 5100-series. The truck is not a dedicated off-road vehicle, so an external reservoir shock was not needed. I do travel to some less-than-paved areas when camping and hauling stuff for people and the 5100 is the perfect fit.

The 5100 shocks are not a run-of-the-mill “universal” shock absorber. Each 5100 is specifically valved and tuned for the specific year, make and model of your vehicle, and many other use factors are taken into account. To sum it up, the 5100 is a great shock for use in towing and hauling applications.

With the new front springs installed, the OE shocks are too short. To remedy the situation, a set of Bilstein 5100 shocks (P/N: 24-268639 ) that are longer were utilized. With nearly 70,000 miles on the truck, I replaced all four shocks. I also needed to install an adjustable track bar.

Changing out the springs is fairly straightforward, but you probably want to know more about how they perform, not how they went in. As soon as I was finished with the installation, I needed to hook up to the camper and see how the new coil springs reacted. Before the new springs, the front of the truck (as measured at the front wheel opening with no trailer) was 40-1/4 inches from the ground. After the installation, the opening measured 42-5/8 inches. The 2-1/2-inch lift springs actually gave me 2-3/8-inches. That is close enough for me.

After the front springs were changed, the WorkHorse's front axle was shifted to the driver's side 1/4 inch. This occurred because the added height pulls against the non-adjustable track bar. An adjustable track bar is needed to bring the front axle back to center. If you do not change out the track bar, not only will your axle be off-center, but so will your steering wheel.

As for the rear of the truck, the new ride height is the same as it was with the stock coils. The rear SuperCoils I installed are not designed to raise unloaded ride height. They are designed to increase loaded ride height and with the toy hauler attached, they did that by 1-1/4 inches. But how does it ride? Is it better than stock or are the new springs stiffer and create a harsher ride?

As previously mentioned, the SuperCoils are progressive-rate coil springs which mean they supply more resistance as the weight on them increases. That is great for supporting loads, and the progressive nature means they do not need to be as “stiff” when the truck is not loaded. What this does is offer a smoother ride than the OE springs could deliver. I have a few roads around my home that are perfect for testing the “bounce” — or lack thereof — of the suspension and I am more than happy with the new ride. This was definitely an upgrade that makes WorkHorse a better truck. I highly recommend you check out the SuperSprings SuperCoils for your Ram.

Article Sources

More Sources

About the author

Randy Bolig

Randy Bolig has been working on cars and has been involved in the hobby ever since he bought his first car when he was only 14 years old. His passion for performance got him noticed by many locals, and he began helping them modify their vehicles.
Read My Articles

Enlist in the Diesel Army newsletter.

Receive the latest newsletter with the content you love from Diesel Army, directly to your inbox, absolutely FREE!

Free WordPress Themes
Diesel Army NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

Diesel Army

DieselArmy

We'll send you the most exciting Diesel articles, news, truck features, and videos every week.

Diesel Army

Diesel Army NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

Diesel Army

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...


ORX
Off road, Jeeps, 4x4s
enginelabs
Engine Tech
dragzine
Drag Racing

Diesel Army

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...

  • ORX Off road, Jeeps, 4x4s
  • EngineLabs Engine Tech
  • Dragzine Drag Racing

Diesel Army

DieselArmy

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Diesel Army

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Loading