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Old 07-01-2016, 11:28 PM   #1
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Air ride or not

We have a 2015 3500 GMC Denali SRW crew cab short box. Pulling a 40ft fifthweel with a pin weight of 3182lbs and a gross weight of 16500.
Want some constructive feedback on whether to install air ride on the truck.
Have only pulled it a couple times with no problems, just wondering if the ride will be better it's fine know and it handles good. The Duramax has no problem pulling it also, just wondering if this would be an improvement or a waste of money.

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Old 07-02-2016, 12:06 AM   #2
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As far as ride and handling I'd save the money.
Are those the actual weights (CAT Scale)?
Perhaps make some careful measurements of you truck frame, and trailer frame, fore and aft.The newer trucks already sit slightly higher. Check your rigs overall height etc. Bed rail pinbox clearances. Determine whether you need to adjust anything else for the most level ride under most conditions. It's all a compromise but you want your trailer axles loaded properly. Bags can indeed raise the rear of your truck if required.
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Old 07-02-2016, 04:56 AM   #3
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Air ride will not improve the ride. In fact, it may make it worse when you aren't towing. The purpose of air springs is to level the truck and help correct squat. If your truck already sits pretty level with the trailer attached, I would save my money.
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Old 07-02-2016, 05:20 AM   #4
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We all have opinions and here is mine.
Firestone ride rite air bags. I will never own a truck WITHOUT them. Put them on my Nissan Titan this year. First when empty or not towing just keep them filled with 5 psi. NO ride Change from stock. Also note that I'm not convinced that ride wasn't improved with a little air psi. Then fill as needed for your application. ( I like a level truck and my hauling continuity changes)
Next cost. If your handy install them yourself mine were well under 300.00
I carry a small cordless compressor to fill bags remotely away from home.
Bag it you'll love. That's my vote. Click image for larger version

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Old 07-02-2016, 08:56 PM   #5
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I had a 2012 Denali 3500 srw in a 2 wheel drive. Our Excel has 3100 pounds of hitch weight which put me a bit over the limit on the load capacity of that truck. Never knew for sure if it was the hitch weight or what but I had problems with some bucking, chucking, whatever you call it. I added a set of Airlifts to the truck and it made a big difference. Maybe just perception but I think they improved the empty ride also. I transferred them to the new dually and they do help smooth out the ride, plus keep the truck level.
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Old 07-02-2016, 09:28 PM   #6
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At my part time job delivering Campers of all sizes we have a 2013 1/2 ton truck that was traded in with a 5th wheel hitch and a set of air bags installed.
it has the Firestone bags with the on board compressor.

it is not used to deliver 5vers but we still use it to move lighter ones around the lot.

This setup includes a gauge next to the momentary switch on the dash to run the compressor.
They definitely can make the drive much less nerve wracking.
If you are using the air bags to get close to level with a heavy tongue weight you will probably need to dump all air to get unhitched.
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Old 07-03-2016, 01:08 AM   #7
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Is that pin weight advertised or real? A 40 foot 5th wheel is going to have a lot of pin weight on it. What is the payload capacity of your truck per the door sticker? Air ride is not going to do anything for you IMO.
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Old 07-03-2016, 02:26 AM   #8
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I put the firestone air helpers on my dually and pulled a fiver, I went a little farther than just airing them up manually to get the ride height right.

I installed a leveling valve, and onboard compressor, and it was all automatic. the only time the bags aired up was when the truck was loaded, and only enough the keep it level.

This system worked very well for the most part, but there was a bounce problem on wash board roadways.

This was due to the suspension system rebounding off the overload springs. I think a set of heavy duty shocks would have completed that project, but I ended up trading the fiver for a DP.

I vote for adding the air spring helper system. like mentioned above, you make the proper adjustments as needed, you'll be happy with it.

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Old 07-03-2016, 09:10 AM   #9
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I have Firestone bags with on board compressor on mine and love it. I have been running bags for years. Empty I run with 10 psi. It smoothes the wash board effect when empty. With 4300 lbs pin weight I run them at 25 to 30 psi. Depending on the road
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Old 07-03-2016, 11:20 AM   #10
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If your budget can support the on board compressor with the remote, you can adjust the ride comfort "on the fly". We use them pulling our heavy Mobile Suites and I am glad they are there.
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Old 07-03-2016, 11:28 AM   #11
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In a 1996 GMC I installed air bags for my 5th wheel. Loved them for pulling the trailer. Hated them when not pulling. I got rid of them soon as I dumped the trailer.
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Old 07-03-2016, 04:24 PM   #12
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Air ride is sweet. This is an expensive mod. Loose leaf springs. Add trailing arms. Add air bags, compressor, leveling valve. That is what my Freightliner uses. Now air spring bags are just just small bags to keep truck level. I don't like them. Had them on my dually and it just rode harder.

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