The suspension system is vital to the ride and safety of your truck camper rig. The suspension includes not only your truck’s wheels and tires, but also your truck’s springs, shocks, and steering. All are critical to how your truck rides and handles, but their importance is amplified even more when you’re hauling a 3,000 pound, top-heavy truck camper. Can anything be done to improve a truck’s ride when carrying such a heavy load? Fortunately, the answer is yes. There are several quality products available in today’s market that address rear sag and sway, the most common handling issue. That’s the good news. The bad news is that none of these modifications actually improve your truck’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) or your truck’s payload capacity. If that’s your aim, then you’ll need to buy a better truck with higher ratings. Sorry, but that’s the truth. The purpose of the article is to identify the top 6 suspension mods for truck camper rigs and how each modification works. Now, let’s take a look at each:
1. Hellwig LP-35 Helper Springs
The best of the best. Need a more robust load leveling solution to correct rear sag? You might want to look into getting a set of Hellwig steel helper springs. Steel helper springs install quickly and easily on top of your existing leaf springs. They can be purchased with either a progressive rate, which automatically adjusts based upon the load, or a constant rate, which provides the same amount of support at all times. Steel helper springs are installed using common hand tools and are hassle free once they’re installed. Just install them and forget them. Hellwig helper spring kits can be purchased with a wide range of capacities ranging 500 to 3,500 pounds. Most hard side truck camper owners gravitate towards the LP-35 kit, a beefy, four-leaf stack with a 3,500 pound load capacity. The LP-35 is made specifically for 3/4-ton and one-ton trucks, while the LP-25 is made for half-ton trucks. When ordering be sure to also purchase the appropriate mounting hardware kit to complete the installation. Note that the Helper Spring shipment comes in two boxes: one with the springs, the other with the mounting hardware.
2. Timbren Suspension Enhancement System
If you’re looking for a great suspension mod that addresses both rear sag and sway, then look no further. The Timbren Suspension Enhancement System (SES) addresses both of these issues in a simple yet effective way. The Timbren SES consists of two Aeon rubber spring assemblies that are mounted in place of the jounce bumpers that came with your truck. The regular SES springs sit about an inch above the rear axle unloaded. When your truck is loaded, the SES springs make contact with your axle. As you drive, the rubber springs expand and contract, providing your rig with the proper amount of load support. Timbren also makes an SES Severe Service kit especially for slide-in truck campers. Unlike the regular SES kit, the Severe Service kit is designed to rest on your axle in an unloaded state in order to provide maximum load support. The great thing about the Timbren SES is that no adjustments or hoses are needed like air bags. A terrific suspension mod, one of the best. Just install it and forget about it. Truck Camper Adventure’s detailed review of the Timbren SES can be found by clicking here.
3. SuperSprings Rebel SumoSprings
One of our favorite suspension products by our friends at SuperSprings International, the SumoSpring is a hybrid, a revolutionary suspension product that performs several important functions rather than just one. On one hand the SumoSpring works like a standard bump stop, on the other hand like an air spring or air bag. Unlike an air bag, however, the SumoSpring doesn’t require compressed air to work. Instead, the air found in each spring is contained within the rubber compound itself, which consists of a proprietary closed-cell micro-cellular urethane. This durable, “closed cell” construction results in a ride that is less harsh on the road than standard rubber bump stops, yet smooths out the “rough edges” of travel like a good set of air bags. But the SumoSpring does so much more. Like a good shock absorber, it also provides additional damping properties for your rig, meaning you get more support when hauling a truck camper, less support when you’re not. Furthermore, SumoSprings reduce side-to-side body roll, resulting in a more stable, safer driving experience like a sway bar. Moreover, SumoSprings are maintenance-free, will not leak, and do not require airlines or compressors, meaning SumoSprings are much easier to install and maintain than standard air springs. Sells for about $479. Click here to read our recent review.
4. Hellwig Rear Sway Bar
For those experiencing excessive sway or body roll during turns, a Hellwig sway bar is an excellent option. What exactly is a sway bar and how does it work? A sway bar is simply a torsion spring, a metal bar with several bends. When the truck leans to the outside on a turn the sway bar applies a resistant force to the suspension on the opposite side. Most of the three-quarter-ton and one-ton trucks coming off of today’s assembly lines are equipped with a front sway bar only, but a rear sway bar is sometimes needed for added stability when hauling a truck camper. One of the best sway bars you can buy is the Hellwig Big Wig. The bar weighs 45 pounds, has a diameter of 1-5/16 inches, and is made of heat-treated 4140 chromoly steel. Unfortunately, sway bars aren’t particularly suitable for going off-road. If you do take them off-road one end of the bar will need to be disconnected to allow the axle to freely articulate. For an in-depth review of the Hellwig Big Wig Sway Bar, click here.
5. Torklift Stableloads
Easily, one of the top 6 suspension mods for truck camper rigs. The Torklift Stableload is an outstanding suspension modification for pickup trucks requiring load leveling and sway support. Torklift Stableloads work with your truck’s overload springs, ensuring that they’re engaged from the start instead of engaging only when your leaf springs make contact. The benefit of doing this is that you’ll notice a more level ride and less porpoising on bumps as well as less sway and body roll on turns. The hinge mechanism of the Quick Disconnect Stableloads (pictured here) allows you to quickly disengage them to easily return your truck to its original stock ride (this is a great feature for those who use their truck as a daily driver). Note that Torklift produces two types of Stableloads: permanent fixed mounts for upper overload springs, and the quick disconnect version for lower overload springs.
6. Hellwig Big Wig Air Springs
Looking for an adjustable load leveling solution? Air springs (aka air bags) might be your best choice. Air springs install on either inside your coil for coil sprung trucks, or on the leaf or axle for leaf sprung trucks. Most air springs, like the superb Hellwig Big Wig Air Springs, offer up to 5,600 pounds of support. Air springs not only correct rear sag, but they can also be adjusted side-to-side for proper leveling support. Not only that, but each Hellwig Big Wig is 3 inches larger in diameter and up to 3 inches taller than the standard 2,500-pound air spring like those made by Firestone. This results in a higher air volume and a better load bearing performance than the air bags made by the competition. Hellwig’s air springs also require up to 40 percent less air pressure compared to the standard 2,500-pound air spring. This lower pressure means you’ll enjoy not only a softer spring rate and better ride quality, but also less jarring and wear and tear on your truck and camper when bumps are encountered. One of the top 6 suspension mods for truck camper rigs. If you decide to go this route, we recommend getting a remote-controlled wireless control unit to avoid having to drill holes into the interior of your truck.
Before You Buy!
If you can remember just one thing about this article, please remember this. Don’t rush out and spend money on any of these suspension modifications until you first see how your truck camper handles on your truck. Otherwise, you may waste a lot of money on hardware that you really don’t need. I see this happen all the time. Based upon the opinion and advice from friends and what they’ve read on the Internet forums, new truck owners will immediately shell out big bucks on new air bags, a sway bar, and Stableloads before even buying a truck camper or taking a test drive. This is backwards. See how your truck handles with your truck camper first before buying anything. If you’re truck is experiencing porpoising, rear sag, or sway with your camper mounted, then you can address each particular issue with the appropriate modification. Moreover, only one modification should be made at a time to determine its true effectiveness.