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RV Suspension Upgrades & Maintenance: Improve Handling and Safety

A popular upgrade on RVs is to upgrade the suspension. The suspension system is a critical component of your RV that helps ensure stability, comfort, and safety on the road. RVs come with a standard suspension system designed to meet the published specifications for the vehicle. This post discusses the top suspension upgrades for your RV to help you achieve a smooth and safe ride. Equally crucial to comfort, safety, and handling is maintenance. But first, let’s review the most popular RV suspension upgrade ideas.

Before I talk about upgrading your suspension, I need to help you understand how weight impacts the tow ability/driveability of your RV. You may be considerating a suspension upgrade when the problem is weight related. If you don’t fix the weight problem, it is unlikely that upgraded suspension will improve the problem you are trying to fix. So get the RV weighed BEFORE you start planning a suspension upgrade. Also, knowing the weight will help you select the proper parts and pieces for an upgrade.

A Note of Caution about RV Suspension Upgrades

The primary purpose of upgrading your suspension is to improve ride, handling, and towing capabilities. While suspension upgrades can help distribute weight more evenly and improve stability, they generally won’t increase the maximum amount of weight your RV or tow vehicle can carry safely. It is crucial to adhere to the manufacturer’s weight ratings and ensure that you do not overload your vehicle, which can lead to safety issues and damage to your RV or tow vehicle. Always consult with a qualified professional before making any modifications to your RV or tow vehicle’s suspension.

Weight Distribution

Proper weight distribution is crucial for the safety and stability of your RV. Overloading your RV or towing vehicle can cause excessive wear and tear on your suspension system. This leads to a bumpy and uncomfortable, and sometimes uncontrollable ride. To ensure proper weight distribution, getting your RV weighed regularly is essential. Once you have this information, you can adjust your load and then make suspension upgrades to improve the safety and comfort of your RV on the road.

Weighing Your RV

RV Scale Wheel Placement

If you’re considering upgrading your RV’s suspension, it’s important first to determine its weight while fully loaded with the equipment and persons normally riding or hauling in the RV. This includes having your water and fuel tanks full to their usual levels. Weighing your RV helps you ensure that you’re not exceeding any weight limits and can give you a better understanding of how the weight is distributed on each of its axles.

To get your RV weighed, you can take it to a certified public scale, which is often found at truck stops, waste disposal sites, and agricultural centers. These scales are designed to weigh large vehicles, and they provide accurate readings of both the RV’s total weight and the weight on each of its axles.

4 corner weights

For self-propelled RVs, it’s recommended to get 4 corner weights, which means weighing each individual wheel position separately. This is because self-propelled RVs have more complex weight distribution due to the placement of the engine and other heavy components. By getting 4 corner weights, you can ensure that each wheel is carrying the appropriate amount of weight, which can improve the RV’s handling and reduce the risk of tire blowouts.

Maximum weight

I want to reemphasize that when you weigh the RV, you should weigh it in the condition you usually are towing or driving it. What I mean is that if you normally head out in your RV with a full fresh water tank, full propane tanks, and full fuel tanks in self-propelled, etc. For self-propelled RVs, all occupants are seated in their normal locations. Essentially your maximum weight. Equally important to weighing your RV, ensure that your tires are properly inflated before upgrading your suspension.

Proper Tire Inflation

Proper tire inflation is crucial for the safety and performance of your RV’s suspension. Underinflated tires can lead to excessive wear, decreased fuel economy, and poor handling, while overinflated tires can be more prone to punctures and reduce the amount of tire contact with the road, leading to decreased traction.

Filling a tire

To find the proper amount to inflate your RV’s tires, you can consult the owner’s manual or the tire manufacturer’s website. The recommended inflation pressure will vary depending on the tire size and load capacity, as well as how much weight is on each tire. It’s important to check the tire pressure when the tires are cold and before driving, as the pressure can increase as the tires heat up during driving.

Cheap Tire Gauges Can Kill You

When checking your RV’s tire pressure, it’s important to use an accurate tire pressure gauge to ensure accurate readings. Cheap air gauges can read 10 to 15% off of actual pressure. For example, if a tire requires 80 pounds of air, 10% is 8 pounds, which means your tire pressure may be 72psi or 88psi. This can put you close to an under or overinflated condition, depending on your tire.

Underinflated tires affect the performance of your RV’s suspension. When tires are not properly inflated, they create uneven weight distribution, causing unnecessary stress on the suspension components. This can lead to premature wear and tear, decreased handling, and a rougher ride or catastrophic failure.

On the other hand, overinflated tires can cause a harsher ride and can make it more difficult to control the RV. Overinflated tires can also lead to increased pressure on the suspension components, which can cause damage over time.

To ensure proper suspension performance and a comfortable ride, it’s important to regularly check your RV’s tire pressure and adjust it as needed. Proper tire inflation can also help extend the life of your tires and other suspension components.

To ensure proper suspension performance and a comfortable ride, it’s important to regularly check your RV’s tire pressure and adjust it as needed. Proper tire inflation can also help extend the life of your tires and other suspension components. Now that you have your weight and correct tire inflation sorted out, let’s talk about some popular RV Suspension Upgrades.

RV Suspension Upgrades

Airbags

Airbags are one of RVs’ most popular suspension upgrade ideas, especially for those carrying heavy loads. They help to level out your RV, improve stability, and provide a smoother ride. Airbags can also help absorb shocks from the road, reducing bouncing and swaying. Firestone is a top manufacturer of airbags for RVs, offering a range of airbag systems suitable for different types of RVs.

Heavy-Duty Shock Absorbers

Upgrading to heavy-duty shock absorbers is another popular suspension upgrade idea for your RV. Heavy-duty shock absorbers help improve handling and reduce bouncing and swaying. This leads to a smoother and safer ride. Bilstein, among others, is a top manufacturer of upgraded shock absorbers for RVs. They offer a range of heavy-duty shock absorbers designed specifically for RVs.

Sway Bars

Sway bars are another popular suspension upgrade idea for RVs, especially those prone to swaying. They help to reduce sway and improve stability while driving, especially in windy conditions or when passing large vehicles. Roadmaster is another top supplier of sway bars for RVs. They offer a range of sway bar systems suitable for various RVs.

SumoSprings

SumoSprings are a type of helper spring that can be added to the front and rear suspension to provide additional support and reduce sway. They are handy for RVs carrying heavy loads or those that experience excessive sway on the road. SuperSprings is a well-known manufacturer of SumoSprings for RVs, offering a range of SumoSprings designed for various RVs.

Load-Leveling Hitches

Load-leveling hitches are another popular suspension upgrade for RVs, especially those towing trailers or fifth wheels. They help distribute the weight of the trailer or fifth wheel evenly between the RV and the tow vehicle. This improves stability and reduces sway. Reese is one of the top manufacturers of load-leveling hitches for RVs. Like all manufacturers, they offer a range of hitch systems suitable for various types of RVs and tow vehicles.

Top RV Suspension Upgrade Manufacturers

Here are the top RV suspension Upgrade manufacturers. If you are looking for a suspension upgrade idea and one of these manufacturers does not make it, then it isn’t made. I am not affiliated with any of these manufacturers but have used Source Engineering’s sway bars and hitch extensions in the past with great success.

  1. MORryde – They offer a range of RV suspension upgrades, including independent suspension, rubber suspension systems, and more.
  2. Dexter Axle provides RV suspension systems, brake components, and other trailer running gear.
  3. Roadmaster Active Suspension – They offer suspension kits for various RVs and other vehicles.
  4. Torklift International provides RV suspension upgrades such as StableLoad suspension stabilizer, SuperHitch receiver hitches, and more.
  5. Kelderman – They specialize in air suspension systems for RVs and other vehicles.
  6. Timbren offers a range of suspension upgrades, including SES (Suspension Enhancement System), Active Off-Road Bumpstops, and more.
  7. SuperSprings – They provide a variety of suspension upgrades, such as SumoSprings, Coil SumoSprings, and more.
  8. Firestone Industrial – They offer air suspension systems for a variety of RVs and other vehicles.
  9. Hellwig Products specialize in sway bars, helper springs, air suspensions, and more for RVs and other vehicles.
  10. Source Engineering – They provide RV suspension upgrades such as custom sway bars, TruCenter steering stabilizers, and more.

For more great maintenance ideas, check out these articles on my website:

RV Suspension Maintenance

Alignment

Proper alignment of your RV’s wheels is crucial to its handling and stability on the road. Misaligned wheels can cause uneven tire wear, reduce fuel efficiency, and even affect your RV’s ability to steer. Regular wheel alignment is necessary to ensure that your wheels are correctly aligned and that your RV is safe and comfortable to drive.

Suspension Maintenance

In addition to upgrading your RV’s suspension system, regular maintenance is crucial for keeping it in good working order. Regular inspections of your shocks, springs, tires, and other suspension components can help identify any issues before they become major problems. Lubricating your suspension components and keeping them clean will help extend their lifespan and ensure optimal performance.

Greasing the Chassis

One aspect of suspension maintenance is greasing the chassis. Greasing the chassis involves applying grease to the various joints and pivot points of the suspension system, which helps to reduce friction and wear on the components. This can help extend the life of your suspension components and improve their performance.

The frequency of chassis greasing will depend on your RV’s make and model, as well as how often you use it. Some manufacturers recommend greasing the chassis every 3,000 miles, while others suggest doing it annually. When greasing the chassis, it’s important to use the correct type of grease. It’s important to consult your RV owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer for their specific recommendations.

On towables, don’t forget to repack your wheel bearings regularly to prevent an expensive on-the-road repair.

Conclusion

It is important to follow the RV manufacturer’s recommendations with respect to weight distribution and total weight. There are many upgrades you can make to improve the handling, stability, and comfort of your vehicle.

I’ve presented a couple of popular suspension upgrade ideas here today. Upgrading your RV’s suspension system can greatly improve its handling, comfort, and safety on the road. From airbags and heavy-duty shock absorbers to sway bars and load-leveling hitches, there are many suspension upgrades available to suit your RV’s needs. Additionally, proper weight distribution and regular maintenance are crucial for keeping your suspension system in good condition and ensuring a smooth and safe ride for years to come.

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