When we were done, the loaded truck sagged in the rear. The Tacoma uses two long thin leaf springs and one short and fat leaf spring. The springs were not keeping the rig level and the pack was not optimized for overland travel.
When Melanie contacted us, I talked to her about the idea for a Hellwig steel spring pack for Four Wheel Camper owners. Shortly there after, I visited Hellwig with our new truck. Their engineers decided that it would be best to replace the short, fat leaf spring with a multi-pack of thinner springs for a more progressive load. This would allow the truck to ride better with a camper loaded.
TCM: Were you involved with the development after that meeting?
Tom: I relied on their expertise. They are experts in suspension, so I let them come up with the ideas and provide a solution. Hellwig’s engineering team took a good look at the suspension on our truck, went to the drawing board, and figured it out.
When the prototype spring pack was ready, they installed the springs on my truck and asked me to test it out. I went on a road trip and the performance was excellent. Even unloaded, the vehicle handled better.
Overland travel was also greatly improved. I carry a lot of stuff, including extra fuel and tools. Without the new Hellwig spring pack system, the rig is uneven and sags. With the new system and the Icon shocks, the rig is level and offers a steady ride when loaded. It’s especially noticeable on precarious roads. Hellwig really hit the mark.
TCM: Given your experience with the Hellwig Tacoma Spring Pack, are you recommending the Hellwig Tacoma Spring Pack for all Four Wheel Camper owners with Toyota Tacomas?
Tom: Yes, we are. Most Four Wheel Camper customers need a suspension upgrade to keep their trucks level. That could be airbags, but some people don’t like airbags because of their vulnerability in off-road situations. The Hellwig Tacoma Spring Pack is an excellent option.
TCM: Are there any other suspension enhancements that you recommend to Four Wheel Camper customers with Toyota Tacomas?
Tom: The only other thing we’re specific about at Four Wheel Campers is recommending E rated tires. They have better tread ratings and stiffer side walls which are better for on and off road applications. When you’re on the interstates, E rated tires give you better stability and tracking. Off-road, the stiffer sidewalls help with stability, control, and protection from rocks.
TCM: Do you have a preferred brand of E rated tires?
Tom: Most people will use Michelin or BF Goodrich, MT or all terrain tires. Although Toyo makes very good all terrain, I wanted a commercial grade off-road tire. So right now I have Toyo commercial grade off-road tires. I wanted greater protection.
I’ve been happy with them because of their heavy nature. They have decreased my fuel mileage a bit more than expected. With the camper on, I’m getting 15.3 to 15.4 miles per gallon. Without the camper, I am getting closer to 17 miles per gallon.
I really enjoyed working with Hellwig Products and I know our Tacoma customers are going to appreciate the new spring pack. We now have an off-road tough suspension product for Four Wheel Camper and Tacoma rigs. Thank you Hellwig.