Best Ways To Help Squat - Rear Suspension Upgrades
Most pickup owners that have towed or hauled have likely experienced some amount of squat at some point in their life. One of the most common misconceptions among pickup owners is that if you’re squatting feeling unstable while towing, then you’re over the ratings or capabilities of the truck. While that can happen, what we find in speaking with pickup owners is it’s rarely the case and most are within 50-90% of their payload or GVWR numbers. Adding a leveling kit compounds and makes the issue even more noticeable as it takes away some of the factory rake. So what are some ways to improve that cosmetic squat, let’s take a look.
Different Types Of Suspension Solutions - Positives And Negatives
Adding Leaf Springs
Once of the simplest ways to go about adding suspension strength, is swapping out for heavier duty leaf springs OR simply adding leaf springs to the pack. Positives: One time fix & never mess with anything Negatives: Likely need to have it installed professionally as installation requires removing u-bolts. It also hardens ride quality with or without a load. When you’ve spent tens of thousands on a truck, adding a solution that impacts ride quality all the time is a non-starter for many.
One of the most tried and true ways of reducing squat, is adding a set of airbags that can resist the weight at the frame and keep you nice and level. Positives: Many nice options like the onboard compressor can make this solution convenient by being able to adjust for different loads when you need it. Has ability to carry some very heavy duty loads hauling like hauling heavy equipment and car haulers with 1 ton trucks. If you have a 1 ton dually and need extra support, this is the go to option. Negatives: These actually put more weight onto the rear axle, which is a negative when it comes to stability and control. To do it right, you’ll definitely want the onboard compressor which are labor intensive and want to leave to a professional to install. That will run between $1,200 - $2500 for a full install. After the initial install, constant minding of the bag pressure comes in to play, the airbags are more prone for failure than the other options and manufacturers to require maintenance.
Traditional Helper Springs
Typically an easy to install style spring with a similar concept and outcome as add leaf springs to the pack. Positives: it’s a one time fix & never mess with anything again. Negatives: Common feedback is it hardening of the ride when loaded and increases rear ride height.
Jounce Style Helpers
These are set it and forget it systems that use a composite material to resist the weight at the frame and keep that rear from dropping down. Positives: Generally a super easy installation process that is set it and forget it. Keeps the truck from squatting without need for readjustment or maintenance. Negatives: Depending on the material of the upgrade and where the truck sits and comes into contact with this helper spring, ride quality and unpleasant bounce can become an issue.
Weight Distribution Hitch
While towing trailer with any sort of significant weight, installing a weight distribution hitch is always highly recommended and will really go to the root of the problem which is proper distribution of the weight on the tow vehicle. Make the proper adjustment and move more weight to the front axle of the tow vehicle, and you made a huge improvement in rear squat. Positives: Addresses the root of the problem, which is proper distribution of weight. Also, does not impact unloaded ride quality since it’s not attached to the rear suspension. Negatives: Setting up can be difficult and cumbersome and sometimes take even hours to get it set up just right. Making a change in the way your trailer is loaded? You’ll need to readjust your weight distribution hitch again. Only works for towing a bumper pull, not a solution for fifth wheel trailer or weight in the bed.
RAS - RoadActive Suspension
Mechanical solution that uses a variable rate tension coil spring to engage with the leaf springs to add support and stability when it's needed the most. Positives: The benefits go far beyond just reducing squat, this is the most complete and well-rounded option for most applications on the road today. A perfect blend of reduced bounced, improved load handling, unmatched ride quality and complete simplicity. Easy, set it and forget it install that has a great reputation for providing same as or better-than-stock ride even without a load. Negatives: Limitation on the higher and heavier duty end of the spectrum. If you’re exceeding your GVWR or need additional support for your dually, you’ll want to invest in an air bag system. But for all others this solution begs to question -- If you can get the support you need while loaded while maintaining ride quality at all times, why make adjustments if you don’t need to?