Here’s a common question I get from RVers who are considering the purchase of an air ride 5th wheel hitch: “Is the extra expense of an air-ride hitch necessary when the truck or trailer axles are equipped with an air ride suspension?” I had a customer just the other day tell me that he was getting a lot of advice from folks on the discussion forums that an air ride suspension and hitch combination would actually “fight” each other.
A typical air-ride suspension (or “spring helper”) provides extra load capacity, but not shock absorbtion.
Extra Capacity vs. Shock Absorbtion
Take a look at the dynamics of both systems and you will discover this is not the case. The air ride suspension systems, particularly for the truck, function to provide extra vertical load capacity. This extra capacity would allow for towing a trailer that might be considered borderline too heavy for the factory suspension on the truck.
People have this idea of a “fight” between air bags because they picture the air-ride helper springs as having regulated air pressure, both decreasing and increasing to make the ride in the cab softer. The air ride helper springs operate with a static amount of air pressure unless you have an auto-leveling system, where the pressure in the bags will increase or decrease to maintain a consistent level to the truck regardless of the weight.
Air-ride helper spring systems simply allow your factory suspension to go further by increasing the capacity but they do not function to absorb trailer bounce.
Put the air-ride where you need it
A good air-ride 5th wheel hitch will absorb all the shock from towing and greatly increase the life of your truck and 5th wheel.
If you take a look at what’s happening on the top side of the truck bed, every time the 5th wheel axles hit a bump in the road, the kingpin is slamming against the rigid connection at the hitch. But the truck suspension (factory or air ride) is not compressing much at all, and all the energy will be transmitted into the frame of the trailer.
This is where an air ride hitch comes into play, to absorb those specific forces at the hitch that very often can lead to frame stress and internal trailer damage. Not to mention it will make things much more comfortable for the passengers.
For a free report on different types of air-ride 5th wheel hitches, click here.