If you use your truck as intended — hauling loads and towing things — then you have surely considered a suspension upgrade (i.e helper springs) to help reduce squat and help carry the load. If your truck has rear leaf springs, then here’s an option you really need to consider, RoadActive Suspension (RAS).
Much like an airbag, the RAS suspension assists with load carrying, but it also does so much more. For instance, this upgrade adds critical strength to leaf springs while not compromising ride quality — with or without a load in the bed or hooked to the hitch. Also, the RAS suspension improves load-carrying ability as well as enhances vehicle performance by controlling sway, body roll, axle wrap, wheel hop, and bottoming out.
Unlike airbags, once installed, no adjustments or maintenance is ever required. According to RoadActive Suspension, the kit works like extra helper springs, airbags, anti-sway bars, and traction bars all in one. If you are wondering whether a RAS suspension or airbags is right for you, we put together an article explaining that very subject.
I spoke with the Director of Marketing of RoadActive Suspension, Nolan Mast, about which truck owners could benefit most from a RoadActive suspension and he offered this, “any pickup owner with leaf springs that is nearing the manufacturer’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and payload line while towing and/or hauling is going to feel the benefits that RAS has to offer. Generally, pickup owners will begin to experience the negative effects of towing or hauling well before reaching those manufacturer numbers.”
Nolan continues, “any pickup owner looking to reduce excessive bounce, improve stability, reduce squat, and is just looking to improve overall load handling should certainly consider RAS. That said, our core customers currently are the half and three-quarter-ton trucks for a few different reasons. All 1-ton trucks now come with factory top overload springs. Those factory overloads need to be removed for fitment of the RAS system. This factor currently leads to diminishing returns as we get to the larger trucks. We are working on a solution to better match the needs of 1-ton truck owners, we hope to have news on that soon.
How the RAS suspension works is, there are variable-rated coil springs, mounted via brackets to the rear leaf springs of the pickup truck, van, or SUV. Once installed and the vehicle is loaded, tension is applied to the coil springs which instantly generates energy toward the rear leaf springs by holding them in their original designed bowed position.
When the payload applies pressure to the suspension, the RAS stabilizers assist with absorbing the force of the load. As previously mentioned, these are more than just a load-assist “helper spring ” suspension. When cornering, the RAS suspension reduces body roll and improves stability by supporting the spring which is taking the increased load. This is especially true for SUVs and other vehicles with a high center of gravity. The greater the strain, the more counter-assistance force is applied from the RAS suspension unit, enabling vehicles to carry maximum loads without bottoming out. If you would like to read about an install we completed on a gen-two RAM, you can click here.
While an airbag kit can take several hours to install and require specialized tools, the RoadActive Suspension can be installed in about an hour with simple hand tools. A suspension upgrade can’t be much easier. To find out more about this true bolt-on suspension upgrade, check out RoadActive.com for more videos and testimonials from actual owners.
“We’ve found that most airbag owners are generally happy with their setup, so it’s not always an easy sell,” says Nolan. “There are times an airbag will be the better solution. The consistent and overwhelming feedback we see from pickup owners that switch from airbags to our product, is they’re never going back to airbags. What our customers often come to realize is that while air airbags provide the ability to adjust pressure as needed, why even bother with that extra step and maintenance required when RAS can provide the same as, or better than stock ride and handling without ever needing to adjust anything? If a pickup owner is towing/hauling within their vehicle ratings, if they want unmatched load stability and less bounce, if they care about overall ride quality/handling with complete simplicity, if they’re worried about more than just the squat, RAS is going to provide an unmatched package.”
Although the RAS kit sounds like a great option for everyone, I wondered if there is ever a situation where the RAS kit might not be the best choice. “We try to be intentional in never overpromising, and yes, there are scenarios when RAS is not a viable or best option,” Nolan states. “Our kit has its limitations on the high end of the spectrum, so many maxed-out one tons and trucks over GVWR are better off going with a different solution like airbags. Our kit still allows for some flexing of the leaf springs, while part of the beauty of RAS, will not keep the truck 100-percent perfectly level like an airbag might be able to do.”
As a truck owner that pulls a large (40-foot) toy hauler from time to time, I was curious about what the RAS kit offers in regard to possibly eliminating the weight distribution hitch I use each time.
“While the load-leveling benefits of RAS almost become an afterthought because of the other benefits our customers end up loving, even more, our kit will significantly reduce rear squat,” affirms Nolan, “We always recommend running a good weight distribution hitch, but it is also very common to still need a load leveler to fill in the gap even after upgrading that hitch, and RAS pairs excellent with a weight distribution hitch.
“There are times on 1-ton applications where pickup owners have run RAS with extra leaf springs or paired RAS with airbags to allow for constant lower bag pressure and improve stability/bounce. The ability to run airbags and RAS at the same time varies, so be sure to contact us to help ensure proper fitment.”
RAS wants to make sure each truck owner gets the best suspension set up on their truck and Nolan finished by stating, “although many truck owners are just beginning to hear about RoadActive Suspension, we’ve been around for nearly 25 years and are a family-owned business. The designer of the product, Clive Schewitz, put so much thought and care into the minute details of the system, so it really is a quality heavy-duty product. You’ll be hard-pressed to find customer feedback for an aftermarket product as overwhelmingly positive as it is for RAS. Without a solid design and craftsmanship, that just wouldn’t be possible.”
So if you’re looking for helper springs as a plan to improve your leaf-sprung truck’s hauling or towing capabilities, then it is time for a RoadActive suspension upgrade. It might be just what you need.