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Truck: add a leaf to the leafsprings or install airbags?

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  • Truck: add a leaf to the leafsprings or install airbags?

    Just bought a brand new GMC Sierra 1500 and did not opt for the Z71 package (which is basically a skid plate and stiffer shocks if I am remembering correctly). Prior to purchasing I talked with someone who has this same truck, and they ended up adding an extra leaf to each side of the leafsprings because they weren't quite stiff enough when the truck was loaded. Adding the extra leaf was cheaper than opting for the Z71 package for the added stiffness.

    So, when I bought the truck I suspected I may have to do the same.

    Then someone mentioned installing airbags...

    Can some of the truck gurus out here discuss the pros and cons of each, including approximate cost difference? What exactly are airbags?

    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."

  • #2
    I've had airbags on every tow vehicle since 1970 (Olds 442 pulling ski boat). I bought them to put on the 3500, but never saw the need. If you want them, we can talk. They've been in the shop for 11 years, but other than the box, they are new. The airbags work in the same sort of way as the leaf springs. You add air when you need to, and when you don't, you still have the soft ride.


    • #3
      I had a friend with airbags. His had to be aired up via an outside source. We put an extra leaf on a flatbed, it didn't change the ride but gave us slightly more weight carrying capacity.
      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
      Incredible Invisible


      • #4
        This link shows how they are mounted. My '70 Olds had a tire valve behind the rear license plate that hinged down to get to the fuel fill. After, that, when I started with trucks, I always had an onboard compressor. I'm not sure if the same bags for a 3500 will fit a 1500, but I also have the onboard compressor kit for them still in the box. There will be a noticeable difference in ride on a half-ton if you add a leaf spring. Heavier trucks already have stiff rear springs. Pluse with the bags, you can level out the truck regardless of what the load is.



        • Original Poster

          Yeah, it rides like a cadillac right now, so don't really want a lumber wagon ride all the time. But, my F-150 didn't ride that nicely (wasn't terrible) and I was thinking adding a leaf would about bring my Sierra up to how my Ford was.

          Tom - I will contact that company and see if they will work. If so, I would be interested in chatting. It seems the onboard compressor is the way to go. Having to use an outside source is just one more thing I have to do before I head out to a horse show at 4 AM.
          "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


          • #6
            We had air bags installed on our 95 Dodge Ram 2500 (3/4 ton) a few years ago when we purchased our new living quarters horse trailer. The weight of the trailer went up considerably due to the LQ and my truck just sank down a little more then I liked. Installed the air bags and now that truck and trailer ride perfectly.....with just a switch of a button inside the cab. Takes about 35 seconds to completely inflate the pressure tanks located on the back axle and you can literally feel and see the back of the truck lifting up. When you have no load attached you simply release the switch and the truck settles back down to normal driving level. LOVE this system.


            • Original Poster

              Cherham - where did you order the system? Approximately how much did it cost with the compressor included?

              I have mechanics in the family who will do the installation, so I don't need to factor in installation costs
              "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


              • #8
                Airbags all the way!
                "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"


                • #9
                  Originally posted by SuckerForHorses View Post
                  Cherham - where did you order the system? Approximately how much did it cost with the compressor included?
                  Cherham, I am also interested in this. I have the same truck as you (2008 model) and I am wondering about how much all of this will run. I have been contemplating this for a while now and I really want to do it but I need to figure out how long I need to save for .

                  Also, not to de-rail this thread, but does anyone have suggestions for tires that can handle the weight a little better (I don't have a dually)? The tires on my truck get a little "squatty" when I hitch up my trailer, nothing dangerous, just another thing I'd like to fix if I can when I get the chance.
                  "Be the change you want to see in the world."
                  ~Mahatma Gandhi


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by besttwtbever View Post
                    Also, not to de-rail this thread, but does anyone have suggestions for tires that can handle the weight a little better (I don't have a dually)? The tires on my truck get a little "squatty" when I hitch up my trailer, nothing dangerous, just another thing I'd like to fix if I can when I get the chance.
                    I am actually interested in this as well, so thank you for minimally derailing my thread! LOL!
                    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."