Trucks of different shapes and sizes are rolling down the road every day, and some of them are towing some sort of payload. With that being said there are many occasions where we’ve seen trucks that are overloaded and the rear of the trucks are severely squatting because of a lack of support. My first thought is “You need some bags, man.” Well, since then, I’ve seen some buzz about what many call “helper springs” by RoadActive Suspension (RAS).
RoadActive Suspension offers what many might refer to as a helper spring, but this suspension aid is so much more. This spring-assisted rear support, while compared to airbags or traditional helper springs, offers the same benefits as bags, helper springs, sway bars, and traction bars, all in one.
RAS, Helper Springs, Or Bags. What Is The Difference?
Just looking at this kit on display, I’m intrigued. For starters, here are some things I quickly noticed: each of the kits is going to be model-specific and tuned for your truck. The variable-rated-tension coil spring engages the leaf spring proportionate to the force that is applied, which means unlike bags, these are constantly making adjustments.
I spoke with Nolan Mast, director of marketing with RoadActive Suspension and he had a few points to make about the RAS system over airbags. “Our RAS kit isn’t for your extreme towing applications, but if you’re within reason, these are a very reliable option over the traditional bags,” Mast says. “Most of the time, an airbag install is quoted to require three to four hours of labor plus the $300 to $500 in parts. You’re already outside the budget for time and money on a RAS kit.” It sounds like bags can be expensive and the install time consuming, but as for the RAS kit, things are much more user-friendly and easier on your wallet.
“Our most popular HD kits can be purchased for only $549 and the installation is simple. Putting them on only requires basic tools, and you can plan on 60 to 75 minutes for a complete install on most trucks. RoadActive Suspension authorized dealers typically charge only one to two hours of labor time,” Mast explains.
When towing comes to mind, the first thing we think of is truck squat. There is a lot going on with a truck’s suspension when you tow. When you’ve got weight on the tongue of the trailer, it can result in sway. There are remedies out there for this, but here again, this is just another add-on. Lastly, you could be encountering axle wrap and/or wheel hop. When we think about axle wrap or wheel hop, traction bars are the first thing that typically comes to mind.
While there are remedies out there for each of these issues, it looks as if the RoadActive Suspension kit can help in all of these areas. In an attempt to clear things up, let’s look at each suspension option and compare apples to apples.
|Product||Reduce Rear Squat||Reduce Sway / Body Roll||Eliminate Axle Wrap / Wheel Hop||Cost Including Labor|
|Air Bag Suspension||YES||NO||NO||$700|
|Roadmaster Active Suspension||YES||YES||YES||$549|
NOTE: If you’re using airbags and an onboard air compressor, you’re looking at an additional cost which puts you near $1,350 including labor. The RAS kit is sounding better all the time.
Are there other things drivers think about when it comes to rear suspension? Actually, yes, bounce. If you have airbags, you know exactly what I mean. When you’ve got your air springs inflated to help with the squat of the truck, it does work. It does help with the weird angle the truck has when it’s loaded. But, that doesn’t mean it offers a quality ride.
In fact, when bags are aired up, it usually creates a rough ride. We talked with Mast about this and he had quite a bit to say. “One other thing I wanted to add is about the bouncing of trucks while towing. Other systems aren’t always the best ride. The traditional helper springs don’t really help to smooth out that bounce, sometimes they can actually make it harsher, especially when unloaded. This is one thing about the RAS System that our customers really value,” Mast affirms.
Thoughts From Diesel Army
We’ve been in trucks that use airbags and a few things come to mind. The bags work great when you’re towing. They keep the truck level and prevent your suspension from bottoming out when loaded. Other than that, there really is no other benefit. Unless you have an onboard compressor system, you can’t make adjustments on the fly.
Take for example you’re driving down the interstate and your truck has inflated airbags. Ahead of you are some rough surfaces. Experience tells you to slow down because the ride is about to get really rough. Even if you have an onboard air system and you were to make bag adjustments with the compressor, I doubt the adjustments would be made in time. I understand the ease of the bags but finding that perfect spot for pressure is tough if you’re going from loaded to unloaded and smooth to rough a lot.
If you are running airbags on your truck and o not have an onboard air system, how often do you actually “air down” those bags before driving without a trailer or load? Most times, truck owners just let the bags stay aired up and it creates a ride similar to a covered wagon.
The RoadActive kit is designed and set up for your truck and is progressive with its resistance and is adding only the required additional support. If your truck is empty, it is still working to keep your axle from wrapping and keeping the truck level, but it requires no adjustments — loaded or unloaded. Can helper springs accomplish that? Once you’ve got this setup, you’re done. Simply unload the trailer after a long weekend of towing, and it automatically goes back to the unloaded driving spring tension and you go about your business. Can you say that about helper springs?
- “I’ve had it on my 2013 GMC 2500 for 3 years, works great when towing heavy trailers.” – Ryan Q
- “When we bought our horse trailer I immediately knew I needed something to help with the suspension on my truck. I did my research and came across the Roadmaster Active Suspension and decided to try it out.. to say I’m impressed is an understatement.. rides great loaded or empty, stops my truck from bottoming out when loaded heavy, and just makes towing a much safer and more all-around enjoyable experience.” – Justin Meyerhoff
- “I installed a set three weeks ago. Towed my 5,400-pound camper and could tell a big difference in handling.” – Raymond M.
- “I’ve had RoadActive on my 2010 F-250 for four years. I love it! We are full-time RVers and I love the stability control that RoadActive offers.” – M.P Buck
- “I had been running SuperSprings for the last three years on my 2012 F-150. They worked great when pulling my boat or camper, or hauling my ATV. But when it wasn’t loaded it, was not a very pleasant ride and had a lot of noise going over any rough terrain. I just installed a RAS system on my truck and I am very impressed. It rides much better with and without a load, and there’s no noise. I have only been able to pull my boat so far. I can’t wait to pull the camper or haul the ATV. It seems like the RAS system is a great addition to any rig.” – Brad Korth
- Riding The Earth on YouTube had plenty to say after their installation too. “When we’ve got a truck loaded down with gear and a heavy trailer behind us, it would cause significant sway and snag while driving. I did a bunch of research about airbags, weight distribution hitches, and other aids, and RAS won out for multiple reasons. It is convenient, doesn’t affect the ride in any negative way, and requires no adjustment. This is a HUGE factor as to why I ended up going with a RAS system.”
For more information about RoadActive Suspension, you can check out the website and find out why your tuck needs this suspension aid.