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Dec 6th 2020

Helper Springs vs. Suspension Air Bags

Helper Springs vs. Suspension Air Bags

In trucks and commercial vehicles, rear suspension is critical for the hauling of loads and the completion of tasks. For many drivers, however, conventional vehicle suspension lacks the power necessary to offer sufficient support in all driving situations. Consequently, a lot of today's drivers attach helper springs or airbags to suspension systems to give their vehicles lift. One way to do this is with air suspension.

Here are some benefits of suspension air bags:

  • Easy to install
  • Bolts into place
  • Most kits require no drilling
  • Adjustable according to weight demands
  • Supports up to 5000 lbs. of load weight
  • Custom fit
  • Air pressure must be monitored

Air bags support payload pressure to keep vehicles flat, whereas leaf helper springs use coils to achieve the same thing. Here are some of the benefits of helper springs:

  • Easy to install
  • Bolts into place
  • Doesn't involve drilling
  • Accommodates a vast range of demands
  • Supports up to 5000 lbs of load weight
  • Can be installed in under an hour
  • Leaks are never a factor
  • Can be used for off–roading
  • Firmer rides when no load is present

For vehicle owners who are just now looking to augment their suspension systems, the choice between airbags or helper springs can seem overwhelming at first. As such, it's important to learn the benefits of air bag suspension and compare it to the advantages of leaf spring suspension.

Benefits of Air Bag Suspension

In vehicle suspension systems, air bags have long been a popular option for drivers who want extra support for payload capacity. Once installed, air bags can be adjusted to meets the demands of a given load. Adjustments for more or less pressure are usually made via lines that extend from the air bags to the license plate of a vehicle in most manual setups.

Air bags work by expanding and contracting according to the weight and gravity of a driving situation. Whether you drive up a sharp incline or along roads with speed bumps, suspension air bags can keep your ride flat and smooth. So how does air suspension work and what do airbags do for a truck? Read on for a more in-depth look at the benefits of air bags.

#1. Easy to Install

Suspension air bags are easy to install, and the whole job can often be performed in under an hour by following a simple set of instructions. You don't even need to have prior experience with air bag installation to pull off the task.

All you need are a few basic tools, which will often be included in an air bag kit. Once you've raised your vehicle to gain access to the underside, you just fit the air bags into place and bring the vehicle back down. Then, you adjust the pressure from the access line to suit the load requirements.

#2. Bolts Into Place

One of the most convenient aspects of air bag installation is how they bolt right into place. Air bag suspension for leaf springs works as an added component to your pre–existing suspension system. You don't have to ply away at anything or fiddle around with screws or bolts just to get an air bag properly fitted under each side of your truck's rear axle.

The only challenge that sometimes arises with air bag installation is aligning the air lines correctly. You need to make sure that the lines are snug and not placed in the way of any neighboring underside components. After you've installed the air bags, the lines should be secured to the frame and away from heat and the elements.

#3. Most Kits Require No Drilling

The majority of air bag suspension kits require no drilling, which makes them super–convenient for the DIY installer who just wants to snap each bag into place and hit the road. Therefore, the tools required for air bag installation are quite simple. As long as you have a kit, a flashlight, goggles, a jack and a set of jack stands, you should be ready to go.

#4. Adjustable according to weight demands

One of the most valuable benefits of air bag suspension is adjustability. With an increase or decrease in the amount of air pressure in each bag, you can adjust the suspension for rides with lights loads, heavy loads or no load at all.

People often ask — do helper springs really work? The answer is yes, absolutely. Suspension air bags offer a huge advantage for trips that involve uneven loads. For example, if the load you carry leans toward the right side or left side of the vehicle, the air bags can be adjusted to accommodate the issue.

#5. Supports Up to 5000 lbs. of Load Weight

Suspension air bags are capable of supporting a vehicle's full payload capacity. When you move furniture or boxes in a midsize truck, for instance, air bags will handle the loads without a slump. Likewise, if you are taking a large shipment of commercial or industrial products from one region to another, air bags offer optimal suspension.

As long as the air pressure is sufficient for the entire length of a trip, suspension air bags will support thousands of pounds across thousands of miles, regardless of whether you mostly drive freshly paved freeways or gravelly back roads.

#6. Custom Fit

Different vehicles require different amounts of back–end support. Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, you might need to have specially tailored suspension air bags. Thankfully, air bags can be customized to suit a vast range of vehicles, from small and midsize trucks to large commercial trucks.

If all you need is a full air bag kit for your truck, suspension air bags can give your vehicle the necessary support to carry boxes and crates from one location to another or, alternately, to tow trailers and boats out to vacation destinations. If you wish to install air bags into pre–existing springs, the parts can be purchased to your custom specifications.

#7. Reliable Air Pressure

Truck owners and fleet operators can expect a long service life from a pair of suspension air bags. As long as the rubber is in optimal shape and the air pressure is adjusted to the demands of the payload, air bags offer optimal suspension in all types of driving terrain, be it smooth, flat and straight or gravelly, steep and bumpy.

Granted, air pressure needs to be monitored on a periodic basis to ensure that it meets the demands placed upon the vehicle. In many cases, you'll need to adjust air bags between each drastic change in payload. If you overlook the airbags for any length of time, the air pressure could fall below the required level and cause your truck to sag.

Advantages of Spring Suspension

Leaf spring helpers are the other primary option for enhancing the suspension system in a vehicle. Spring helpers consist of coil springs that expand and contract according to the weight of the vehicle and pressure of the driving situation. Air bag suspension for leaf springs needs air to operate, whereas leaf spring helpers function as actual springs.

Helper springs generally come in two types, constant and progressive. Constant helper springs provide a constant payload capacity, which can be increased or decreased with a manual adjustment of the torque. Progressive helper springs adjust automatically to the payload demands placed on a vehicle at any given time. As such, progressive helper springs are more popular among truck owners who prefer a low–maintenance suspension system.

#1. Easy to Install

Helper strings are incredibly easy to install under a truck. In fact, the whole task can be completed in under an hour if you have the proper tools, which are often included in a helper spring kit. As long as you have protective eyewear and a flashlight, you can complete DIY spring installation in just a few steps. But do helper springs really work?

Helper springs work with leaf spring suspension systems. For trucks that don't get sufficient lift from leaf springs, helper springs can provide the needed boost to keep a vehicle flat when fully loaded. Unlike leaf springs, coil helper springs are actually "springs" in the technical sense.

#2. Bolt into Places

Once you've cleared the way on each side under your vehicle, helper springs can be bolted right into place. There is nothing elaborate about the whole process, you simply slide the springs onto your existing suspension system and fasten the supporting parts back into place.

After you've completed the spring installation, you probably won't even have to see or think about your helper springs again. The springs will simply do their job as you enjoy smoother rides with optimal suspension.

#3. Doesn't Involve Drilling

As with the installation of air bags, DIY helper spring installation does not require drilling. Even though you are adding an additional part to the underside of your vehicle, the part in question simply slips into place around pre–existing components.

Basically, the installation of a helper spring involves unscrewing parts of your suspension system to slot in the spring. Once you have the spring snugly in place and adjusted to its proper tension, you simply reapply the surrounding parts and screw everything back into place.

#4. Accommodates a Vast Range of Demands

Helper springs are designed to accommodate a broad range of payload capacities. If you operate a fleet of commercial trucks, helper springs can be used to provide uniform support for intrastate and cross–country shipments. Depending on the length and weight of the vehicle, helper spring kits come in an array of sizes and weight capacities.

If you feel that you need even more suspension for your vehicle, a helper–spring kit can augment your leaf–spring suspension system. Helper springs adjust to the demands of a given trip, whether you haul a trailer or load a piano into the back of the truck.

#5. Supports Up to 5000 lbs. of Load Weight

Helper springs can bear the full payload capacity of a given vehicle. As long as the truck itself is made to haul a certain weight, there's a helper spring kit with the ability to support that truck's rear underside.

Whereas many air bags need to be adjusted to accommodate drastic changes in payload, helper springs adjust automatically. If you carry several thousand pounds on one day but then have no load the following day, helper springs will give you optimal suspension all the same.

#6. Leaks Are Never a Factor

One of the main advantages of helper springs is that they are not vulnerable to air leaks. Likewise, you don't have to worry about air pressure when it comes to helper springs, which simply expand and contract as needed.

In fact, the reason why so many truck owners love leaf springs is that once you install a kit, you don't even have to think about it. Whereas a lot of air bags require adjustments, helper springs don't need to be modified a second time.

#7. Can Be Used for Rugged Terrain

Helper springs will give your vehicle optimal suspension, even in the most rugged terrain. If you need to haul furniture or ship loads across a route with peaks and valleys full of gravelly roads and steep hills, helper springs will keep your vehicle from slouching throughout the trip.

With helper springs, the challenges that payload can pose for the functions of a vehicle are alleviated. Whereas a truck with a conventional suspension system might having difficulty braking or turning corners when carrying heavier loads, with helper springs, that's not a problem.

#8. Reduce Sway With No Maintenance

Helper springs reduce sway and make trips with heavy payloads smoother. However, on days when you carry no load, the overall feel of a ride can be somewhat stiffer. Because of this, truck driver and fleet operators who haul heavy loads on a regular basis often choose helper springs.

Buy Air Bags and Helper Coils from General Spring

Whether you decide to purchase super springs or airbags for your vehicle, it's best to do so from a trusted dealer who can match you to the best products according to the make and model of your vehicle. For more than 30 years, General Spring has been the leading supplier of vehicle parts and products such as leaf springs with airbags and helper coils. Browse our inventory and see what we have to offer today.