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comparison of suspension springs

Comprehensive Comparison of Timbrens, Super Springs, Suspension Air Bags and Helper Springs


Most trucks are equipped with leaf springs, which offer basic rear suspension. To a lot of drivers, enhanced suspension is considered a necessity. Many truck owners add extra leaves to boost their rear suspension systems. Other drivers prefer secondary options, namely Timbrens, super springs, suspension air bags or helper springs. But how do you know which option is the best?

How Does Each Option Work?

All four options are easy to install into a truck's rear suspension system. The overall functions are similar:

  • Timbrens: Snap onto the underside of a truck above the rear axle, absorbing heavy loads and protecting rear suspension components.
  • Super Springs: Attach to the top of leaf springs, adding 30 percent more strength to the suspension systems of commercial and recreational trucks.
  • Suspension Air Bags: Attach to the truck's rear suspension, absorbing the weight and stresses of maximum payloads and roadside imperfections.
  • Helper Springs: Snap into place on the rear underside of a truck, boosting suspension at all times during full and light loads.

how suspension air bags work

All four can be installed relatively quickly by any DIYer with a few basic tools in hand.

What Do They Do to the Truck?

Each option boosts a truck's suspension. The main difference is whether the boost is constant or selective:

  • Timbrens: Engage when loads are heavy, disengage when loads are light, providing added suspension only when necessary.
  • Super Springs: Provide added support on rides with heavy loads, keeping trucks straight and free of sway at all times.
  • Suspension Air Bags: Provide adjustable suspension at all times on rides with both light and heavy loads.
  • Helper Springs: Boost suspension at all times, making heavy rides level and light rides higher.

The right option for you depends on what you are looking for — selective lift with no maintenance or constant lift and adjustability?

When Should Each Option Be Used? What Situations Call for Which Solutions?

when to add suspension

This may depend on the type of truck you drive:

  • Timbrens: For drivers who need added suspension on rides with heavy loads.
  • Super Springs: For drivers looking to augment their pre-existing leaf springs.
  • Suspension Air Bags: For drivers seeking an adjustable supplement to their rear suspension.
  • Helper Springs: For drivers of freight trucks and four-wheelers who regularly drive heavy loads.

Your preference could also depend on whether your rides consist of maximum or minimum payloads.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Each Option?

Each option is reliable, but the flexibility varies:

  • Timbrens: Flexible, strong, maintenance-free, engage when necessary. Not adjustable.
  • Super Springs: Solid, sturdy, maintenance-free, engage when necessary. Not adjustable.
  • Suspension Air Bags: Adjustable, flexible, responsive. Maintenance required.
  • Helper Springs: Solid, sturdy, maintenance-free, continually engaged. Not adjustable.

It depends on whether you want a maintenance-free enhancement to your leaf springs or something you can adjust for each ride.

suspension pros and cons

Are There Cost Differences? Which One Is the Best Value?

You could pay less for a suspension enhancement that might last for a few years, or pay more for one that could outlast your ownership of the truck:

  • Timbrens: $215.99 to $665.99. Should last the average duration of vehicle ownership.
  • Super Springs: $69.99 to $455.49. Should outlast the average duration of vehicle ownership.
  • Suspension Air Bags: $75.99 to $249.99. Might need to be replaced after a few years.
  • Helper Springs: $35.99 to $105.99. Should outlast the average duration of vehicle ownership.

Always shop and compare, knowing that the best deals are neither over- or under-priced.

How Do I Know If I Need One of These Suspension Options?

You may need added suspension depending on how you use your truck:

  • Timbrens: If you do lots of recreational driving, off-roading or occasional hauling.
  • Super Springs: If you carry maximum payloads almost daily, whether for commercial or personal purposes.
  • Suspension Air Bags: If you wish to set your rear suspension to a different level for each trip.
  • Helper Springs: If you drive commercial freight trucks for a living or haul maximum payloads daily.

when to choose super springs

It also depends on whether you drive for commercial or recreational purposes.

How Do the Options Compare to One Another?

Each has its own benefits. It comes down to whether you would prefer to have an adjustable enhancement or one that you could install and forget:

  • Super springs vs airbags: Depends on whether you want extra suspension for heavy loads or constant, adjustable suspension for all loads.
  • Helper springs vs Timbrens: Depends on whether you want constant suspension for all loads or extra suspension for heavy loads.
  • Suspension air bags vs helper springs: Depends on whether you want constant, adjustable suspension with rubber components or constant, maintenance-free suspension with actual springs.
  • Timbrens vs suspension air bags: Depends on whether you want rubber components that engage when necessary without maintenance or engage according to the settings made for a given ride.
  • Super springs vs helper springs: Depends on whether you want extra suspension and improved riding on heavy loads or constant, stiffer suspension on all loads.
  • Timbrens vs super springs: Depends on whether you want improved riding for off-roading or extra suspension for daily heavy loads.

Knowing the basics of each option, consider the unique benefits of Timbrens, super springs, suspension air bags and helper springs.

Timbrens

A Timbren is a rubber suspension enhancement that you can install under trucks instead of a stock jounce bumper. Visually, the Timbren resembles a double-chamber airbag. Unlike an airbag, however, Timbrens offer consistent tension that does not need to be adjusted or re-pressurized.

timbren suspension

The purpose of a Timbren is to boost suspension on rides with heavy loads. As such, Timbrens do not level trucks at minimum loads, sitting 1.5 inches above the axle when the truck is virtually empty. When you use Timbrens, an empty ride will retain its factory suspension.

On light and empty loads, your truck will rely on the regular suspension provided by the leaf springs. On days when you haul furniture or tow boats and trailers, the added weight is absorbed by the Timbrens, which provide supplemental lift, balance and comfort.

1. Easy to Install

Timbrens are easy to install within a truck's suspension system. You can complete the task in under an hour or two, even on your first attempt at DIY underside installation. The installation also involves few tools and requires no drilling. You simply remove the factory bump stop, screw the Timbren into place and repeat the process on the other side of the truck.

Once installed, you will never have to worry about maintenance or readjustments, as the Timbren rubber will absorb stress and shield your rear axles when you drive over pumps and haul heavy loads.

2. Adjusts to Automatically to Payload

Timbrens work automatically under a truck. Regardless of how much weight your vehicle carries on a given trip or delivery route, the Timbrens will absorb the weight when called upon to do so by the laws of gravity. Otherwise, the Timbrens will rest at a slight distance from your axle, allowing your truck to ride at a factory suspension level.

Timbrens are the ideal option if you are happy with your leaf springs when riding on light loads, but want a supplement for your suspension system when your truck is heavily loaded. Air springs, by contrast, can be adjusted for any ride, giving you the option of small or large boosts on some or all rides.

3. No Contact With Axle When Unloaded

Timbrens do not make contact with your axle when your truck is unloaded. Therefore, Timbrens give you the option of experiencing the factory settings of your suspension system on days when you simply wish to head out for a ride with no haul or tow.

This stands in contrast to helper springs, which offer a constant lift that is very helpful during heavy loads but can make rides feel stiff at times when you drive with an empty truck bed. As such, Timbrens are often favored by recreational pickup owners who want a no-maintenance supplement to their leaf springs.

4. No Need for Air

timbrens require no air

Though made of rubber, Timbrens require no air to perform their function within your truck's suspension system. Therefore, you can simply forget about your Timbrens once you have them installed under your vehicle.

Regardless of your load weight or riding terrain, you will never need to stop for readjustments or air-refills with Timbrens, which will act as consistent, no-maintenance supplements to your leaf springs during rides with maximized payloads. This stands in contrast to suspension air bags, which need to be periodically re-pumped and adjusted to the demands of a given load.

5. No Maintenance Required

As with helper springs, Timbrens do not require maintenance. Once you have a set of Timbrens installed within your truck's suspension system, you can simply board the cab and hit the road. The same is not true for airbags, which have to be pumped periodically to maintain a minimum pressure of 5 psi. If you are looking to simply install suspension enhancements under your truck and then forget that they are even there, a Timbren set is one of the best possible options.

6. Keeps Truck Level From Front to Back

Like all suspension enhancements, Timbrens keep the rear of your truck level with the front-end, even when your truck bed is loaded with heavy cargo or towing a large trailer. You never experience the discomfort of a back-slouched ride when your truck is equipped with Timbrens because the rubber absorbs the weight and protects your axle. Timbrens also provide extra shock absorption when you reach maximum payload, even as you ride over dips, speed bumps, gravel and rocky terrain.

7. Eliminates Body Roll

In some cases, uneven rides are the result of an imbalance in tire pressure, which can be exacerbated by an uneven distribution of weight across the truck. When this happens, a truck is liable to tilt while on the road, especially as you make turns and drive across challenging terrain. This problem can also hasten the wear and tear of brakes, ultimately shortening their life expectancy.

With Timbrens installed under your rear suspension, the effects of uneven weight distribution are removed from the riding experience because the shocks and tremors that trigger such problems are removed from the equation.

Super Springs

Super springs are supplemental leaf springs that can be attached to the top of the pre-existing leaf springs under your truck. Once installed, super springs can nearly double the amount of support within your rear suspension system.

truck super springs

Super springs absorb the shock and tremors of roadway imperfections, making it more comfortable for drivers and passengers alike. Whether you drive commercial trucks for a living or drive a four-wheeler for off-roading and recreational adventures, super springs can supply your vehicle with a degree of balance that it would otherwise lack, even on challenging terrain.

1. Ample Suspension for Heavy Loads and Towing

Super springs make it possible for your truck to tow trailers and haul maximum loads with no back-end slump, even when you drive along dips, potholes and bumpy roads. Enhancing your leaf springs, super springs augment your suspension system with a levelness enhancement that most trucks lack when they first roll out of the factory.

When you ride a pickup along steep, winding roads and over rocky, unpaved passages, super springs will absorb the shock and protect your chassis from tremors and stresses. The riding experience is also more comfortable with super springs because bumpiness and road imperfections are barely felt within the cab.

2. Eliminates Slumping and Swaying

Super springs eliminate the unevenness and sway of heavy loads on straight as well as rocky terrains. If you drive a commercial delivery truck loaded with logs or stacked with vehicles, you won't have to worry about the back-end chassis hitting the rear axle.

When you ride along stretches of road with one dip after another, the super springs will handle the movement and supply your truck with an added lift that leaf springs alone could never match. Super springs can also make the riding experience more comfortable as you switch lanes and make turns, even sharp ones along tight corners.

3. Engages Chassis When Necessary to Protect Axles from Heavy Loads

Super springs also absorb wheel hop and provide evenness without the drawback of stiffness. If your wheels encounter branches, debris, cans or other obstructions, the super springs will help absorb the shock before any tremors reach your cab.

Best of all, super springs do not alter the riding experience when you travel lightly at minimum payload. Whereas helper springs provide a constant lift that can make rides feel stiff on empty loads, super springs are more like Timbrens in that both kick in when added weight is applied to the rear of your truck.

4. Several Suspension Functions Combined Into One

Super springs combine the benefits of several different functions all into one. Like suspension airbags and Timbrens, super springs smooth out each ride with cushioned support that makes the experience comfortable for drivers and passengers. Unlike airbags, super springs only act when needed, allowing your truck a range of performance levels, from factory to enhanced.

super spring functions

Like helper springs, super springs are made of metal and therefore impervious to some of the environmental effects that could impact the rubber on Timbrens and airbags. Unlike helper springs, super springs only act when you ride with a heavy payload, thus sparing you the stiffness of an over-elevated empty load.

5. Easy to Install Over Pre-Existing Leaf Springs

Super springs can be installed under practically any truck in under an hour. The process is simple because it requires very few tools and consists of only a few small steps. All you have to do is elevate your truck within a reasonable clearance and access the leaf springs. Super springs attach right over leaf springs with no cutting or drilling involved in the process.

Once you have the super springs snapped into place, you can lower your truck and take to the road. You will not even feel any difference until you load up your truck bed or haul a trailer, at which point you will notice the evenness and enhanced performance of your truck, especially when compared to past heavy loads.

6. Works on Most Truck Types

Super springs can be added to the suspension systems of virtually any type of truck, from passenger pickups to commercial freight trucks. When attached above the leaf springs on a regular four wheeler, super springs can give your truck a leveling power that protects the rear axles, bumpers and wheels. Whereas the back of your truck might sag and touch the pavement with a conventional suspension under the heaviest of loads, the problems are practically unheard of in trucks equipped with super springs.

Similar benefits are felt when the rear-suspension systems of commercial trucks are augmented with super springs, which take the drag out of trailer hauling.

7. Improves Suspension and Ride Experience by up to 30 Percent

improve truck ride handling

Super springs can improve a truck's ride-handling by as much as 30 percent. This amounts to nearly a third less sway as you turn along boulevards and highways. Likewise, this keeps your truck properly centered as you navigate twisty turns along steep inclines and sharp slopes. Even when your truck encounters sudden bumps and dips in the road, super springs absorb the shock and keep things smooth and stable for your vehicle.

8. Does Not Make Loud, Grating Sounds

With super springs, your suspension system is unlikely to emanate grating, obnoxious noises as you drive along rugged or wet terrain. Thanks to their unique design, super springs are not prone to squeak, squeal or rattle.

As anyone who has experienced these problems would know, grating sounds are among the most insufferable issues to cope with in a moving vehicle. Even if other aspects of the ride are smooth and easy, obnoxious underside noises can make you eager to end the ride and also leave you wary about future trips in the same vehicle. Super springs help to eliminate this sort of problem.

9. No Threat of Leaks or Ruptures

With super springs, there is no threat of leaks, ruptures or any of the other problems that are unique to rubber suspension enhancements. For the rider who prefers a suspension solution with little or no maintenance, this is one of the main advantages of super springs, which are a structural enhancement of the leaf springs that already exist above the rear axles of most trucks. This stands in contrast to suspension air bags, which can leak or rupture due to their rubber makeup.

10. No Maintenance Necessary

Unlike airbags, which require a pressure setting for each ride in addition to periodic maintenance for issues like air loss, there is no such maintenance associated with super springs. The moment you install a set of super springs, you never have to look at them again. A set of super springs will most likely last for the duration of your ownership of the truck. If you ever decide to sell the truck, the super springs could even serve as a selling point to prospective buyers.

11. Light, Medium and Heavy Options for Various Truck Types and Uses

When it comes to super springs, truck owners have the option of light-, medium- or heavy-load sets. Depending on the size of your truck and the types of loads you carry, you might opt for a set of super springs at one end of the spectrum or the other.

Whichever type of super springs you ultimately choose for your truck, they will give your suspension system an added boost and levelness in the vast majority of driving situations, even the most trying of circumstances. That is something you can rarely count on with a simple set of un-augmented, factory-installed leaf springs.

Suspension Air Bags

Suspension air bags are used to boost and supplement the suspension system of a truck. You can adjust the pressure in an airbag according to the load of a given ride. Depending on the brand of airbags, you can make adjustments from either the inside or the outside of a truck. Each airbag can be adjusted individually, which can be very helpful while driving with uneven loads that weight down one side of a truck more heavily than the other.

suspension air bags

Airbags are made of thick rubber, designed to withstand stress and absorb shock, tremors and the bumpy nature of imperfect terrains. However, the exterior of an airbag can wear over time amid repeated exposure to extreme temperatures, inclement weather, salt and debris.

Nonetheless, most airbags last for several years and could easily outlast the average set of truck tires. Most problems that a driver might encounter during the expected lifespan of a set of airbags will be covered under warranty by most suppliers.

1. Easy to Install

For the truck owner who simply wishes to give their vehicle a simple suspension boost, without the hassle of complicated steps and tools, airbags are one of the fastest and easiest options to install under a truck. The whole task can usually be performed in under an hour, even if you are a first-time installer. Most airbag kits require no drilling and come supplied with all of the tools that you will need to fasten the airbag into place. All you will need is to set up your vehicle, elevate the truck just enough to access the underside and fasten the airbags into place. Once installed, you can then adjust the pressure to your own liking. It is that simple.

2. Snaps Right Into Place

Installing airbags is an easy task partly because of the relative lack of steps involved. To install an airbag, all you need to do is get under your truck and snap the bag into place. There is nothing to remove, unscrew, unfasten or refasten.

Once you have the airbags popped into their slots, the only other step is to route the air line. This step can be slightly tricky because you need to make sure that the line is routed correctly, so as not to interfere with other underside components. With that step out of the way, you will be ready to take your truck on the road.

3. Adjustable to Various Load Capacities

Airbags provide optimal flexibility and can be adjusted to suit your needs on a given trip. If you are carrying a maximum load, the airbag pressure can be increased to level the ride. On trips with lighter loads, you can ease the pressure and allow the airbags to augment your leaf springs with only minimal added lift.

On days when you carry a medium load, you can adjust the airbags accordingly. You can even pressurize one side more than the other on trips when the balance of your load places more weight on the left or the right side of the truck.

4. Supports Loads as Heavy as 5,000 Pounds

suspension air bag capacity

Suspension air bags can handle up to 5,000 pounds of weight, effectively maximizing the payload capacity of any truck. If you need to move furniture from one place to another, airbags could keep your vehicle level throughout the haul, even as you drive along steep hills and sharp turns. In a large trailer truck, suspension air bags will help to ensure the evenness necessary to safely transport large shipments from city-to-city or state-to-state, whether you haul commercial loads or simply plan to relocate in a single trip.

5. Customizable to Various Trucks and Uses

Depending on the size, make or intended use of your truck, you might wish to have a customized set of suspension air bags installed under the vehicle. Thankfully, airbags can be customized to suit the needs and requirements of a vast range of trucks, from passenger pickups to commercial trailer trucks.

6. Steady Air Pressure

Suspension air bags can last for a considerable length of time, perhaps longer than you would own the same truck. However, it is important to keep the pressure right for level loads, which can vary depending on the amount of weight you might haul on a given trip. Airbags will boost your truck's suspension so long as the pressure is set appropriately for each trip. If the airbags are neglected and lose their pressure, it could defeat the purpose.

Helper Springs

types of helper springs

Helper springs are sold in two basic types — constant and progressive. Constant helper springs are designed to support a truck's full weight capacity. On maximum loads that put your truck's suspension system to the test, a set of constant springs could offer the necessary lift to keep your vehicle riding even.

Progressive helper springs are designed to adjust with the load of your truck. The more weight you add, the more the springs kick in to shoulder the load. Granted, you can raise the weight capacity on a pair of constant helper springs with some manual torque adjustments. However, if you need a flexible set of springs that can regularly adjust to different loads, progressive helper springs are usually the better option because they spare you the trouble of having to stall each day to make manual adjustments.

1. Easy to Install

Helper springs are easy to install, even for the first-time DIYer, who can usually complete the task within an hour with the help of an instruction manual and a few proper tools. Of course, you should wear gloves and protective eyewear. Helper springs will boost the lift provided by your leaf springs, and then the two work together as an augmented suspension system. Unlike leaf springs, however, helper springs are actual "springs" in the technical, coiled sense.

2. Snap Right Into Place

Helper springs require no drilling when you install them under your vehicle. The whole process involves unscrewing a few underside parts, fitting the springs into place, adjusting the tension, then reattaching the surrounding parts.

As long as the truck has sufficient elevation in a safe working space, you can bolt the helper springs into place, lower the vehicle and ride in your newly augmented truck. From there, you will feel the improvement but not have to think about the springs beyond that point.

3. Accommodates a Vast Range of Demands

Helper springs support a wide range of payload capacities. If you drive a basic pickup truck, helper spring will give the vehicle added lift and keep your rides level on highways as well as mountainous and off-road terrain. If you operate a commercial trailer truck, helper springs will give you the boost to keep the ride level at maximum load capacities.

With helper springs, there is little if any chance that your truck will slouch backward or sideways while carrying a full load. Best of all, helper springs adjust automatically to the payload requirements of any given haul or trip, whether you are shipping goods across state lines or carrying a grand piano in a pickup truck.

4. No Maintenance Necessary

Once installed, helper springs require no special adjustments or maintenance to function as part of your truck's suspension system. Whereas suspension air bags require pressure adjustments and re-pumps to function properly, helper springs are self-sufficient. For this reason, helper springs are popular among truck drivers who regularly haul large payloads for commercial purposes.

helper spring maintenance

With helper springs, you can proceed with your daily routes and leisurely rides without taking time out to adjust and readjust the tension of your truck's suspension.

5. Able to Handle Challenging Terrain

Leaf springs can give your truck the suspension necessary for a level ride on flat roads and highways. However, leaf springs alone will usually not provide the balance needed to handle rugged terrain, sharp turns, steep inclines and off-road stretches.

For a fuller range of possibilities along a given route, helper springs are one of the most reliable suspension enhancements. With helper springs, you can navigate steep, twisty and bumpy rides with ease, even when your truck hauls the heaviest possible loads.

6. Reduces Sway

Helper springs make the riding experience smoother and more stable at maximum payload. However, rides can feel somewhat stiffer with helper springs in trucks with a minimal payload. For this reason, helper springs are most popular among drivers who either haul heavy loads regularly or transport commercial shipments for a living.

7. Durable and Long-Lasting

Helper springs are made of metal. Some springs are coated, depending on the manufacturer. Helper springs are designed to last for the average span of vehicle ownership, though issues can emerge if a spring is subjected to recurrent exposure to gravel, debris and especially salt water, which can have corrosive effects on exposed metal surfaces.

If hard matter chips away at the metal coating over time, it can open the metal to weather and water exposure, rendering the springs vulnerable to rust formation and shortening their lifespan.

Buy Truck Suspension Parts From General Spring

Your choice in a suspension supplement could all depend on your needs as a driver. If you wish to have an underside component that will allow you to customize your springs for each ride, an airbag could be the easiest, most convenient and reliable option. If you are looking for a leaf spring supplement that will level your ride automatically, regardless of load, helper springs, super springs or Timbrens would all be an excellent choice.

buy truck suspension

At General Spring, we sell a variety of leaf springs and suspension enhancements for a vast range of trucks. For more than 50 years, our products have helped truck drivers experience smoother rides on delivery routes and off-road adventures alike. Explore our catalog for a range of leaf springs, helper springs, super springs, Timbrens, airbags and other products that could enhance the performance or your truck. Contact us if you have any questions.