Understanding the connection between towing capacity and suspension capacity
What is towing capacity?
Towing capacity is the maximum allowable weight a vehicle can tow as determined by the manufacturer. In other words, the most weight your truck can pull both legally, and safely. Towing too much weight can cause your trailer to swing and pull your vehicle beyond your control. It can also make stopping difficult and quickly wear out your brakes.
To determine maximum towing capacity, you will need to know the vehicle manufacturer's weight ratings and compare them against the gross weight of your trailer. Most vehicles have the trailer towing capacity listed in the owner's manual, on the driver-side door jamb or in a trailer towing capacity guide on their website.
How to determine towing capacity: whether you're looking up SUV towing capacity, pickup truck towing capacity or car towing capacity, consult the vehicle manufacturer!
If the vehicle's ratings are higher than the total weight of the trailer, the trailer is safe to tow. If the trailer weight exceeds the vehicle's ratings, the trailer is too heavy!
What is suspension capacity?
Definition: Suspension capacity is the same as payload capacity. In order to determine the suspension (payload) capacity simply subtract your truck’s GVWR from its curb weight. For example, if your truck's GVWR is 9,000 lbs and your truck weighs 5,000 lbs empty, then your payload (suspension) capacity is 4,000 lbs. You can put 4,000 lbs of people and stuff in your truck.
What could go wrong if you exceed your truck’s suspension capacity?
The main components of a suspension system are the springs: leaf springs, or coil springs. When these steel springs are pushed past their limit by an overly heavy load, many different problems can occur. The steel can stretch and distort so that it no longer has the ability to flex as well as it should, and cracks and fissures can occur in the spring steel limiting its capacity. Ultimately, a crack can cause the spring to break so that it will no longer function, and the axle will bottom out on every bump.
How do you know if you need a suspension upgrade?
Not everyone needs to upgrade their suspension. If you don’t ever haul or tow anything heavy, you’re not going to need a suspension upgrade. However, if you are towing well within your truck’s towing capacity, you may still need to invest in a suspension upgrade.
That’s because not every truck that rolls off the assembly line has a suspension that can meet the demands of its owner. Sometimes it needs extra help. That’s what helper springs are for. Whether you’ve got a front suspension that squats beneath the weight of a snowplow or a sagging rear suspension laboring under the additional stress of a slide-in camper, helper springs can have a positive impact on the truck’s overall performance.
Here are a few obvious clues that you probably need a suspension upgrade:
- Is the front end of your truck lower (or higher) than the rear end while towing?
- Does your tow vehicle lean dangerously on turns?
- Does the rear end of your truck sag?
- Does your truck bottom out when it hits bumps?
- Do you find it hard to steer doing the speed limit?
- Are you having trouble braking while towing?
Here’s the thing:
If your truck doesn’t sit level while towing, that’s going to complicate things. Towing is difficult even under the most ideal conditions. But if the tow vehicle squats when you hook up the trailer, towing your trailer suddenly becomes a dangerous task.
When the rear end of the tow vehicle sags or squats, the front end sits too high. And if the front end sits higher than the rear end, you will have trouble steering and braking. Needless to say, if you can’t steer or brake properly, you’re going to lose control of your rig.
I don’t need to tell you that this is a dangerous situation which can lead to an accident!
There are several suspension upgrades available, like the Timbren SES system. Some are best suited for towing. Others are not. Let’s take a look at what’s available for you.
Which suspension upgrades are best for you?
Here are four of the most popular suspension helper springs on the market today:
- Air Lift
- Timbren SES
Let’s compare and see which one is best for you:
Add-a-leaf products - like SuperSprings - help to level the load. Unfortunately, they cost about $600.00 US for the pair. And they’re capacity is limited to approximately 1,500 lbs additional.
Air bag products - like Air-Lift - help to level the load but they’re expensive, costing anywhere from $1,000 - $1,500. And their capacity is limited to approximately 4,000 lbs additional.
SumoSprings are made from air-infused polyurethane (foam). The average price runs about $350-$400.00 for the pair. Capacity is n/a. Not recommended for areas with extreme temperatures (Canada and Australia) and loads that are top-heavy.
Timbren SES upgrades retail for approximately $300.00 and provide up to 8,600 lbs of additional capacity. They perform well in any climate/temperature and can easily handle severe-service loads like 5th wheel trailers and truck campers.
A quick observation suggests that Timbren SES products have the best price and the most capacity. And if you were to take a closer look, you’d notice that Timbren SES wins big points for:
- best ride quality loaded or unloaded
- best added stability
- best warranty
So, just in case you missed it, we highly recommend Timbren SES suspension upgrades for your half-ton pickup.
Think about it: Timbren SES products have been around for over 50 years and are still the smartest choice hands down!
“Whether we’re towing with our Nissan Titan or our Toyota Tundra, our Timbren SES kit has been a game changer. Reduced all sag in the rear plus helps the tow rigs gain maximum control. Over a year with SES and we would never go back.” @ClicOutdoor
For more information about Timbren SES products, please visit Timbren.com