On The Level
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.
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.
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.
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.