Timbren SES Suspension Helper Springs vs Air Bags | The Showdown

It’s the Showdown Between Load Leveling Equipment: Who’s the Clear Winner?

For over 50 years, people looking for a suspension helper spring for their truck or SUV have wondered what upgrade to choose: Timbren SES vs air bags. They are familiar with airbag systems, but not with Timbren SES.

At first glance, the Timbren SES helper springs look very similar to an airbag system. But once you’ve taken a closer look, you will undoubtedly discover some remarkable differences as well.

The following is a short comparison between Timbren SES and air bags. Hopefully, this short article will help you to make a more educated choice between the two.

Installed helper spring

What can be done about trailer sag or truck squat under a heavy load?

It’s not uncommon for a truck’s rear suspension to drop as you near the maximum load rating. 

This can become a problem. As the rear of the truck sags, it causes the front to shoot skyward. This alters the handling of the vehicle and gets worse while towing. To fix this squatting problem, you can choose from an assortment of load-leveling devices. We’ve listed only a few below:

Air Bags

Adding helper air bags to the rear of your pickup is a workable way to support additional tongue and bed weight. Most airbag systems are bolt-on and allow you to easily adjust the bags from inside of the cab. 


One of the most inexpensive and easiest ways to get a little lift from the rear of your truck is by installing an add-a-leaf which is placed within your truck’s spring pack to help increase support and lift. 

SES Helper Springs

Another inexpensive way to keep your truck level and stable is to replace your factory bump stops with a Timbren SES upgrade

installed suspension airbag

What is an air-bag suspension? How does it work?

An air-bag suspension is comprised essentially of air springs (air bags) and an airline system. Pressurized air is pumped through the airlines into the air springs to raise the vehicle. The same pressurized air can be dumped to lower it. The air-supply system is made up of the following components:

  • Air Compressor
  • Height-control valves
  • Air reservoir
  • Air pressure sensors

Each of these components work together to keep the air suspension at a desired height when loaded. The height control valves help to regulate the amount of pressurized air that gets pumped into each airbag. When there is no load in the bed of the truck, the air can be dumped to a minimum of 5 psi.

Timbren SES Suspension Upgrade Kit with helper springs
All the parts you need to install a Timbren SES Rubber Helper Spring Kit on your pick up truck

What is an SES helper spring? How do they work?

SES helper springs are made of vulcanized, natural rubber. Each rubber moulding regulates its size and shape. Also, the durometer of the rubber used determines its strength. Some are single convoluted, designed to help with stability while most are double convoluted, offering a perfect blend of ride quality and stability. 

Virtually every SES kit includes a pair of hollow rubber springs. Also included are components specific to the application. In almost every case, an SES kit includes – along with the hollow rubber springs – metal brackets, rubber spacers, and metal fasteners that facilitate an easy install.

SES helper springs are not a one-size-fits-all approach. In fact, every kit (except for ‘universal’ kits) is specifically designed to fit a particular make and model. That’s why there are over 400 easy-to-install kits that fit almost every truck, van, motorhome, and SUV that rolls off the assembly line.

Timbren SES kits usually replace the factory bump stops located on or above the axle or control arm. Aeon® hollow rubber springs have a progressive spring rate. In other words, their spring capacity gradually increases as the load weight increases. That’s why they can keep the vehicle level and stable even under the heaviest loads.

When there is no load, the rubber springs do not engage with the frame or axle, allowing the suspension to work normally. Needless to say, SES upgrades are self-adjusting and require zero maintenance.

Air bags vs Timbren Helper Springs – Which is better and why?

Andrew with Timbren Discusses the vast difference between rubber helper springs vs suspension air bags. There's a clear winner.

Before we get started comparing air bags to Timbren SES helper springs, it’s important to remember something: When trying to reach a conclusion about which system is better, it really comes down to personal preference. Both suspension helper systems have their similarities and differences:

Similarities Between SES Helper Springs and air bags

  • Load leveling: Both products can keep your truck level even under the heaviest loads. Here are some of the benefits associated with load-leveling:
    • Reduced roll and sway
    • Improved steering
    • More control
  • Ride quality: Both products promise better ride quality with or without a load.
  • Warranty: Both products come with a Lifetime Warranty.

Differences Between air bags and SES Helper Springs

  • Technology – Rubber vs Air

Obviously, Timbren SES and air bags use two very different technologies. Even though a Timbren SES product can sometimes be mistaken for an airbag suspension system, nothing could be further from the truth. air bags use air pressure to lift and lower the truck. Timbren SES products all use hollow rubber helper springs. The rubber – not air – does the job of keeping the truck level and stable.

  • Cost

Airbag kits can potentially cost a great deal more than Timbren SES. In fact, the cost is one of the biggest differences between the two systems. Installation charges plus the number of additional conveniences and upgrades (e.g., air compressors) can get quite costly.

  • Installation

Most Timbren SES products take about 30 minutes to install. An airbag system can take up to 3 – 4 hours to install due to the large number of parts needed for it to function. See below.

Airbag installation kit - Numerous parts. Complicated to install
The massive number of parts needed to install suspension air bag kit on a truck.

  • Maintenance

Timbren SES kits require zero maintenance. Airbag systems are more high-maintenance and require periodic checks for leaks and broken airlines.

  • Adjustability

Timbren SES products are self-adjusting. air bags require height-control valves that adjust the amount of compressed air sent through the airlines to the air bags.

It’s fair to say that airbag suspension kits bring to the table certain benefits. And Timbren SES kits have their own set of advantages as well. Hopefully, this article has brought some clarity to the question, “Should I purchase air bags or Timbren SES?” Only you can decide. Hopefully, this short article will help you make a better-informed decision.

Severe Service Helper Springs in a Timbren SES Kit - More trustworthy