On The Level

by | Jan 26, 2021 | Suspension

Ram 3500 Camper Towing Boat
Air Lift’s Load Lifter 7500 XL air helper springs help manage the weight of a camper or trailer
RV enthusiasts who prefer going on outings with larger, heavier slide-in campers or fifth wheels have probably have noticed that the extra weight in the bed presents some challenges when it comes to maintaining a level ride.

Not surprising. Many of today’s largest slide-in campers and fifth wheels can push a pickups’ load-carrying limits, resulting in a nose-high, tail-low vehicle stance, along with lighter-than-normal steering feel and rear suspension that can sometimes bottom out on the factory bump stops.

Air Lift’s LoadLifter 7500XK kit comes with everything needed to bolt the heavy-duty helper springs in place from axle brackets to air lines. It doesn’t come with an air compressor or controller, which are part of the Air Lift optional WirelessAir system.
Air helper springs are not just good for camper-laden pickups, but also for heavy-duty pickups towing 5th wheels and goosenecks. We found the Air Lift LoadLifter 7500XL system easy to install and easy to dial-in the best ride for the task at hand.
Many of today’s largest slide-in campers and fifth wheels can push a pickups’ load-carrying limits.
The upper and lower brackets that hold the air springs in place are easy to install. The upper bracket is bent for a solid fit when bolted to the frame using the same holes as the factory bump stop that it replaces.
The upper and lower brackets that hold the air springs in place are easy to install. The upper bracket is bent for a solid fit when bolted to the frame using the same holes as the factory bump stop that it replaces.
Each 7,500-pound-capacity double-convolute air bag is protected by a special roll plate that slips on the ends. A swivel-type air-inlet fitting is then screwed into the opening at the top, and then the top mounting plate is attached (a notch is precut to clear the air fitting) with 3/8-inch flathead cap screws and torqued to 20-lbs.-ft. per Air Lift’s detailed instructions.
Each 7,500-pound-capacity double-convolute air bag is protected by a special roll plate that slips on the ends. A swivel-type air-inlet fitting is then screwed into the opening at the top, and then the top mounting plate is attached (a notch is precut to clear the air fitting) with 3/8-inch flathead cap screws and torqued to 20-lbs.-ft. per Air Lift’s detailed instructions.
It’s important to note that, anytime you face a similar situation with your set up, you should weigh the truck and trailer (or truck and camper) on a public scale to make sure that the rear gross axle weight rating (GAWR) and the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) have not been exceeded. Assuming everything is within limits and the rear end still sags, there is popular (and effective) remedy: Adjustable rear air helper springs.

Take the Ram 3500, for example. Air Lift’s big-boy kit, the 7500XL LoadLifter (P/N 57595; MSRP: $696.78) is designed to fit 2012-newer 2500/3500 models and has the ability to lift 7,500 pounds, so it’s more than capable of leveling the rear of both single-rear-wheel and dual-rear-wheel models.

WEIGHT CONTROL

As we eluded to earlier, air-helper springs don’t increase the rig’s load carrying or towing capacity. Air springs (air bags) only supplement the factory spring’s ability to both level the load and stabilize weight distribution from side-to-side and front-to-rear. Better weight control equates to better stability and a smoother, safer ride. Adding additional leaf springs or replacing the stock springs with heavier springs would work as well, but then the vehicle’s ride unloaded would be untenable.

Air Lift’s LoadLifter kit utilizes a pair of robust, commercial-grade, double-convolute bellows air bags for the support system. They can have anywhere from 5psi (when truck is unloaded) to 100psi in them, but the typical slide-in camper/fifth wheel inflation setting will most likely be between 25-50psi.

Diesel technician Ruben Villalobos finished setting up the air bags on the work bench by bolting on the lower bracket that goes over the axle housing. Don’t forget the supplied 3/8-inch carriage bolts must be put through plate first, as they are covered by the roll plate.
Diesel technician Ruben Villalobos finished setting up the air bags on the work bench by bolting on the lower bracket that goes over the axle housing. Don’t forget the supplied 3/8-inch carriage bolts must be put through plate first, as they are covered by the roll plate.
The air spring assemblies are set on top of the axle tube, one on each side, then bolted into place. The passenger’s-side has plenty of clearance, but the driver’s-side takes a little more juggling to clear the ABS, emergency brake cable and brake line. (If there’s an aftermarket exhaust, you may have to trim a 1-inch diagonal piece off the rear corner of the upper mounting plate to clear the bracket.)
The air spring assemblies are set on top of the axle tube, one on each side, then bolted into place. The passenger’s-side has plenty of clearance, but the driver’s-side takes a little more juggling to clear the ABS, emergency brake cable and brake line. (If there’s an aftermarket exhaust, you may have to trim a 1-inch diagonal piece off the rear corner of the upper mounting plate to clear the bracket.)
Whatever setting you find is the best for the application at hand, it can be jotted down somewhere as a reminder, or be saved as a preset on Air Lift’s optional WirelessAIR ($724.42) controller. The majority of those who go to the trouble and expense of having air-helper springs installed also opt for the onboard air system and controller; the ease and convenience of having in-cab control over the ride and handling on-the-fly makes the system very appealing.
A slick trick Ruben uses to install air helper springs to the upper mounting plate is to slowly inflate the air bag so it rises up until the top plate on the bag and the upper mounting plate on the frame are close enough to bolt together.
A slick trick Ruben uses to install air helper springs to the upper mounting plate is to slowly inflate the air bag so it rises up until the top plate on the bag and the upper mounting plate on the frame are close enough to bolt together.

RIDE EVALUATION

After we installed the full Air Lift system, we took a couple test drives along city streets and along a coastal highway. One drive was with a slide-in camper alone, and the other was the truck and camper hooked up a 20-foot boat/trailer combo. With the air system down to 5psi, (the minimum Air Lift recommends to keep the air springs from being damaged), both rides were wallowy, the steering light, and there was a slight, but constant feeling of top-heaviness.

When we adjusted the air pressure to what we felt provided the best control, which was 32 psi, the Ram rode level, the sense of top-heaviness subsided, and the steering felt just as it did without any load on the truck at all. That’s precisely what air-helper-springs should do.

A slot about 1-inch wide must be cut out of the driver’s-side lower roll plate to clear the axle air vent tube (and ABS wire) BEFORE installing the air spring. We put the spring in place, marked the cut location, then removed spring assembly to cut out the excess metal.
A slot about 1-inch wide must be cut out of the driver’s-side lower roll plate to clear the axle air vent tube (and ABS wire) BEFORE installing the air spring. We put the spring in place, marked the cut location, then removed spring assembly to cut out the excess metal.
A slot about 1-inch wide must be cut out of the driver’s-side lower roll plate to clear the axle air vent tube (and ABS wire) BEFORE installing the air spring. We put the spring in place, marked the cut location, then removed spring assembly to cut out the excess metal.
We are also confident that whatever load or trailer this Ram 3500 is tasked with in the future, the Air Lift LoadLifter 7500XL system is more than capable of providing a more stable, safer ride than one would get without it in place.
We followed the directions on running the plastic air tubes from the air bags to the valve stems so they could be filled manually. (You can also do this even with the optional WirelessAir system.) Our little trick here is to install the valve stems for each line in place of the typical license plate bolts so they are easy to get to and are almost invisible.
We followed the directions on running the plastic air tubes from the air bags to the valve stems so they could be filled manually. (You can also do this even with the optional WirelessAir system.) Our little trick here is to install the valve stems for each line in place of the typical license plate bolts so they are easy to get to and are almost invisible.
If you add the optional WirelessAir system, the 12-volt air compressor, air filter, manifold and control box fit neatly to the body just forward of the rear axle on driver’s-side. The added expense might not be for everyone, but it sure makes life on the road easier.
If you add the optional WirelessAir system, the 12-volt air compressor, air filter, manifold and control box fit neatly to the body just forward of the rear axle on driver’s-side. The added expense might not be for everyone, but it sure makes life on the road easier.
Using the Air Lift LoadLifter7500XL kit with the WirelessAir system allows you to preset two different air pressure settings. Push either the button with the single dot or the one with two dots and the air helper springs will adjust automatically to your desired pressure. Or, you can manually raise/lower the air pressure 5 psi at a time using the up/down arrows.
Using the Air Lift LoadLifter7500XL kit with the WirelessAir system allows you to preset two different air pressure settings. Push either the button with the single dot or the one with two dots and the air helper springs will adjust automatically to your desired pressure. Or, you can manually raise/lower the air pressure 5 psi at a time using the up/down arrows.
Air helper springs are not just good for camper-laden pickups, but also for heavy-duty pickups towing 5th wheels and goosenecks. We found the Air Lift LoadLifter 7500XL system easy to install and easy to dial-in the best ride for the task at hand.
Air helper springs are not just good for camper-laden pickups, but also for heavy-duty pickups towing 5th wheels and goosenecks. We found the Air Lift LoadLifter 7500XL system easy to install and easy to dial-in the best ride for the task at hand.
Air helper springs are not just good for camper-laden pickups, but also for heavy-duty pickups towing 5th wheels and goosenecks. We found the Air Lift LoadLifter 7500XL system easy to install and easy to dial-in the best ride for the task at hand.
Sources:

Air Lift Company
800-248-0892
www.airlift.com

Mobile Diesel Service
541-459-8939
www.mobilediesel.co

Photos by author
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