TCM: So airbags are more about maximizing the existing load carrying capacity, not increasing it?
Paul: That’s correct. Too many people think they can add some type of suspension add-on device and increase the GVWR of the vehicle. A vehicle’s GVWR is made up of a whole host of parts and pieces that were designed by the OEM to get to that payload level. For example, it’s the amount of weight that the tires can hold, the type and quality of brakes to stop, the strength of the frame to support, how heavy the axles are, and the whole design of the vehicle. Changing and adding springs certainly helps carry the load, but it does not change the payload of the truck.
We used to talk about the early trucks, back in the early 1970s that had a 7,500 pound GVWR. These trucks didn’t sag as much because of the amount of spring they had. And people were not concerned how they handled. They were just work trucks.
As trucks became more popular and people wanted them to ride better, they were still advertising the 7,500 rating. They didn’t tell you what the truck would look like at that weight. Modern 7,500 GVWR trucks will sag a lot more at the same load than the 7,500 GVWR trucks of the 1970s. That was one of the driving forces that brought suspension products into the marketplace and made trucks more marketable to the public.
TCM: Just to be clear, airbags do not in any way increase the payload capacity of your truck?
Paul: You are correct.
TCM: Are airbags designed to help a truck that’s loaded past it’s manufacturer recommended payload capacity?
Paul: Air bags do not turn three quarter ton trucks into one ton trucks. You cannot take a 7,500 GVWR truck and make it a 10,000 GVWR truck by changing the suspension.
What air springs do is level the load. With the truck and load more level, your truck is more appropriately set up for steering and stopping within its OEM payload limitations. Being level will also keep the headlights in alignment and level and keep your truck riding and handling the way it was designed.
We continue our conversation with Paul Gibson in SumoSprings 101: Paul Gibson of SuperSprings. In SumoSprings 101, Paul discusses the benefits of SumoSprings and further elaborates on air spring technology.