Why Overloading Your Truck Cause Strain on Your Leaf Springs
When you have a heavy-duty truck, it's often assumed that it will haul overbearing loads. This may be true, but what often happens is that truck-owners may end up loading their vehicle with more weight with the logic that because it’s a truck it can take it. That’s not always the case.
Automotive manufacturers design each of their trucks for certain purposes. Even for the ones that are built to take on harsh environments and haul and carry heavy loads have a limit. Trucks overall, are built to carry heavier loads than cars. One thing is certain — the majority of trucks are installed with leaf springs to support all that heavy weight.
Purpose of Leaf Springs
Leaf springs are built to support any additional weight on the back of a truck. They are typically installed on the back chassis of the axles. Leaf springs are designed to absorb the weight or energy that is placed on a flatbed, preventing it from weighing on the axle and snapping if off from the truck rendering it in need of serious repair.
This suspension device is designed to hold up the extra-added weight through the pressure that is placed on the springs, allowing the load to hold up and remain stable on the flatbed of the truck.
In practice, well-maintained leaf springs do several things:
- Make your ride more comfortable: Leaf springs absorb the shock of bumps, dips and potholes in the road, making their impact less dramatic. This translates to a smoother, more comfortable ride for all occupants.
- Improve handling and hauling: Leaf springs keep your tires aligned and help your truck maintain a steady height. As a result, your truck will handle more predictably and wallow less at highway speeds, especially when you are hauling a large or heavy load.
- Reduce wear on other suspension components: Finally, leaf springs help distribute the weight of your truck more evenly across its four corners. This prevents excess wear on individual suspension components, saving you money by extending their life and reducing your maintenance requirements.
What Happens When You Overload Your Truck?
Leaf springs do a lot of good things for your truck. But each model and type of spring is rated for a specific load — going beyond that will eliminate the benefits of your springs and can cause damage to your vehicle. Overloading your truck places added pressure on its shocks and suspension components, which makes it more challenging to handle — leading to stiff steering and jittery movements.
Overloading your truck also puts you at greater risk of a blowout, which, coupled with the handling difficulties caused by heavy cargo, can lead to a rollover or other major accident. Structural damage and transmission failure are also possibilities. If you have to carry a load heavier than what your truck is rated for, upgrading to heavy-duty leaf springs is essential for both your safety and the health of your vehicle.
Leafs Springs Can and Will Wear Out
The problem with leaf springs is about the same with any other auto part. Over time, they can wear out and eventually need replaced. Imagine if you will, the springs within a mattress. When it’s new, it will support a set amount of weight. If too many people lay on it, or worse, start jumping up and down on the mattress, the springs within it will recoil back into its original form less and less. Next, two things will occur — the mattress’ weight capacity will decrease and it will no longer be level.
Your leaf springs will eventually wear out regardless of whether or not you overload your truck. When your springs start to go, they will be less effective at absorbing shocks and distributing weight, which will lead to many of the problems mentioned above. For this reason, it's essential to know the signs of failure and make leaf spring inspections part of your regular preventative maintenance.
How to Determine If Your Leaf Springs Are Worn
If a truck gets overloaded beyond its capacity, the leaf spring will flatten out, reducing the height of the truck. In the example of the worn-out mattress, the old springs weren’t level anymore. However, with leaf springs, if the flatbed of the truck is level, then there’s a problem!
When leaf springs are installed in a truck, it increases the height of the flatbed by a few inches. That is why most trucks have a little lift in the back. The higher the lift, the stronger capacity the leaf spring has.
Other tell-tale signs of worn-out leaf springs include:
- Uneven tire wear
- Frequent bottoming out
- A bumpier, less comfortable ride
- Leaning to one side
If you notice any of the above, there's a good chance one or more of your suspension components are failing. If it's the leaf springs, and they wear out ahead of schedule, you may want to think about managing your cargo more carefully or upgrading to a set of heavy-duty springs.
How to Avoid Straining Your Leaf Springs
For work vehicles, the need for leaf spring replacements is almost the same as getting new tires. With wear and tear, the part will eventually strain out enough to where it's no longer useful. To avoid straining your leaf springs purchase and add a Leaf Kit, but that is not always guaranteed to work depending on the task. It's best not to overload your truck or use it to haul loads that are above its capacity.
General Spring carries OEM-quality replacement springs for all truck makes and models. If you frequently overload your truck and your springs suffer as a result, we also carry heavy-duty upgrades that can increase your payload capacity. Browse our website or contact us directly to learn more about your options.
Contact General Spring for Your Leaf Spring Replacement
When it’s time to replace the leaf springs on your truck, consider General Spring. We specialize in leaf springs, suspension and replacement parts. Our company has been in the automotive suspension industry since 1965 and has acquired a collection of knowledge in this field. So if your strained leaf springs need changing out, shop our online catalog of leaf springs. If you can’t find your part, we can manufacture it for you.
We are located in New Century, Kansas and can ship your order right from our warehouse.
Ordering online is fast, secure and easy — browse by model or manufacturer to explore our full selection of aftermarket and heavy-duty truck leaf springs.