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Old 09-06-2012, 10:28 AM   #1
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Purpose of air bags?

Sorry for the newbie question but I am new to heavy hauling, diesel trucks, etc.

For info I drive a 2011 GMC 2500HD with a Duramax / Allison combo. I keep reading about people adding air bags to their truck. Does this increase the cargo or hitch weight capacity? Make it ride better? Give the wife another gripe about the upgrades I want to do to the truck? I've tried to research it but still don't understand exactly what they do, except I know the third answer in my house for sure.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-06-2012, 11:21 AM   #2
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Old 09-06-2012, 11:22 AM   #3
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typically used to "level" the vehicle when towing a heavy load. It may increase load capacity a small amount, maybe 1000lbs each bag.
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Old 09-06-2012, 11:34 AM   #4
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it helps level out the truck, so the "butt" end doesn't squat down as much. It also will in theory increase weight capacity...but keep in mind that the rest of your truck's weight rating hasn't changed, so you should try to respect the manufacturer's ratings.
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Old 09-06-2012, 06:07 PM   #5
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It won't increase your registered gvwr nor gawr...

it is only for "looks" i.e. it lessens the 'looks' you get from leo since it keeps the back end from squatting enough to make him notice you as quickly...

I jest as it will keep the weight off your overload springs, but does little for what you can really carry.... (says the person who put bags on his truck !)
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Old 09-06-2012, 06:37 PM   #6
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They help level the truck and maybe give you a better ride. They do NOT increase any cargo, hitch, tow or any other rating. If you "need" air bags, you probably do not have enough truck.
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Old 09-06-2012, 07:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat320
They help level the truck and maybe give you a better ride. They do NOT increase any cargo, hitch, tow or any other rating. If you "need" air bags, you probably do not have enough truck.
This is exactly my concern. My 10,000 lb travel trailer is fine with my truck. Wife wants a 5th wheel toy hauler. We don't haul toys. We just have 5 teen kids so need room for sleeping and hanging out when weather doesn't permit being outside. We don't really want a bunk house.

Here it comes. The salesman told me i could install air bags to handle the pin weight. I am right on the edge based on the rigs I've looked at. Of course since I'm just shopping I don't have any actual, fully loaded weights with a toy hauler. I know a 3500 DRW would be ideal but that won't happen. We will stay in our travel trailer before I do that. It will hold us. It's just kind of tight especially when we bring the two labs with us.

Thanks for the help!
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Old 09-08-2012, 05:00 PM   #8
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The only purpose of air bags in the rear suspension is to raise the rear end of an overloaded tow vehicle so the headlights don't aim at the stars and blind oncoming drivers. As Cat320 noted, air bags DO NOT increase GVWR, GAWR, GCWR or any other weight rating.

You should never exceed any of GM's weight ratings, but on your truck the limiter is probably the GVWR. Load the truck down with all the people, pets, tools, jacks, whatever will be in the truck when towing your new toy hauler. Go to a truckstop that has a CAT scale and fill up with diesel. Then weigh the wet and loaded truck on the CAT scale. If you don't have the 5er hitch installed yet, then add 150 pounds to your wet and loaded weight. Subtract that weight (including weight of the 5er hitch) from the GVWR of your truck to get the max payload available for hitch weight.

Wet and loaded smaller 5er toy haulers will have a wet and loaded pin weight of about 17 to 20 percent of the GVWR of the trailer. So to see how much trailer you can tow without being overloaded, divide your max payload available for hitch weight by 0.2 (20 percent).

Don't be shocked that the heaviest 5er you can tow is lighter than your 10k TT. 5ers have a lot more percentage of hitch weight, so if GVWR is your limiter then you can tow a heavier TT than 5er without being overloaded.

If you are stuck with your 2500 for a while yet, then consider trading for a TT with a more suitable floorplan. (Yes, Virginia, they make toy hauler TTs.) A 10k TT should have a hitch weight around 1,300 pounds, while a 10k 5er will have a hitch weight closer to 2,000 pounds.

(My '99.5 F-250 diesel was overloaded with a 5er that grossed less than 8,000 pounds. But the payload available for hitch weight increased with the later models, so today a new F-250 should be able to tow a 5er weighing up to about 10,000 pounds without being overloaded over the GVWR of the truck. And I'll bet GM is similar).
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Old 09-08-2012, 05:35 PM   #9
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Air bags are a crutch and props up an overloaded vehicle in most cases. They can help a heavily loaded vehicle ride better, but they do nothing to incre3ase the load or towing capacity.

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Old 09-08-2012, 07:40 PM   #10
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SMokeyWren and TXiceman

You both helped me make the decision to upgrade my truck a couple of months ago. Our situation changed with our kids since then and we now have 5 kids between 12 and 16 living with us full time. As a result we were looking for more room. Using some rough numbers based on previous weigh ins, published ratings, etc I am limited by the GVWR. It looks like my max pin weight is 1300-1400 lbs which isn't enough for anything we are looking at. A smaller unit doesn't get me much more room than I have now, so isn't worth the investment.

When I upgraded my truck I found a great deal on my 2500HD. If I'd have found a deal on a 3500HD I would have bought it. I don't want a dully. My truck is my full time vehicle and I do a lot of miles in Houston - not easy driving my truck much less a DRW truck. So to make another change now isn't practical and the SRW 3500 won't get me the rating I need either. So I guess it's still the travel trailer for now unless I can fill the front of the fiver with helium.

This is another case of buyer beware. I had three salesmen tell me my truck would pull a trailer with a 3000 lb pin weight with no problem. Thankfully I've learned better than to listen to them.

Thanks for your help (again).
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuyWhoTris View Post
Sorry for the newbie question but I am new to heavy hauling, diesel trucks, etc.

For info I drive a 2011 GMC 2500HD with a Duramax / Allison combo. I keep reading about people adding air bags to their truck. Does this increase the cargo or hitch weight capacity? Make it ride better? Give the wife another gripe about the upgrades I want to do to the truck? I've tried to research it but still don't understand exactly what they do, except I know the third answer in my house for sure.

Thanks in advance!
Hello GuyWhoTris, like others have said, air bags will not change the weight ratings (GVWR, GCWR, GAWR) on your truck. They will:

  • Ensure that weight is properly distributed to all four tires, which maximizes vehicle stability, safety, and comfort
  • Allow you to level out the rear of the vehicle when towing or under a heavy load, as well as deflating the bags when riding empty for a softer ride
  • Will fix your headlight aim when towing or under a heavy load
  • Permit precise vehicle height adjustment for exact alignment, eliminating trailer sway


For your 2011 2500HD, we make a 57338 kit. You can learn more about it here: LOADLIFTER 5000; LEAF SPRING LEVELING KIT. Let me know if you have any questions at all. Thanks!



PS... It's quite possible an air bag system will give the wife another gripe. We cannot warranty that.
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Old 09-12-2012, 09:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuyWhoTris View Post
SMokeyWren and TXiceman

You both helped me make the decision to upgrade my truck a couple of months ago. Our situation changed with our kids since then and we now have 5 kids between 12 and 16 living with us full time. As a result we were looking for more room. Using some rough numbers based on previous weigh ins, published ratings, etc I am limited by the GVWR. It looks like my max pin weight is 1300-1400 lbs which isn't enough for anything we are looking at. A smaller unit doesn't get me much more room than I have now, so isn't worth the investment.

When I upgraded my truck I found a great deal on my 2500HD. If I'd have found a deal on a 3500HD I would have bought it. I don't want a dully. My truck is my full time vehicle and I do a lot of miles in Houston - not easy driving my truck much less a DRW truck. So to make another change now isn't practical and the SRW 3500 won't get me the rating I need either. So I guess it's still the travel trailer for now unless I can fill the front of the fiver with helium.

This is another case of buyer beware. I had three salesmen tell me my truck would pull a trailer with a 3000 lb pin weight with no problem. Thankfully I've learned better than to listen to them.

Thanks for your help (again).
The dealer was correct. A 2500 GM truck can have 3000 lbs of capacity. In fact some configurations have closer to 4000 lbs capacity.
The problem is using GVWR to figure loads on the trucks rear axle.
The '11 2500 GM has a 6200 RAWR/tire load ratings for carrying axle loads. The trucks front axle changes little to none so its not a concern after loading, especially a short bed.

Many 2500 GM trucks come from the factory with a rear unladin weight in the 2800 lb range which leaves 3200-3400 lbs for a max axle payload. Figure a hitch/rails/full fuel/a percentage of occupants and other gear over the rear axle and your left with approx 2800-2900 lbs of "wet" pin weight.
This is why its critical to weigh the trucks front and rear axles separately that way you know what weight numbers your working with. Numbers above are a example only.

Makes no cents/sense to buy a one ton SRW for anything under the trucks axle ratings as the only difference in your 2500 and the 3500 SRW is higher capacity wheels/tires and springs.

You can use the trucks RAWR to figure axle loads or you can use GVWR to figure axle loads. Both work. Both are safe and both keeps you from being a illegal hauler if its of any interest to you.

I wouldn't buy anything till you load up and make a short trip. Then is the time to make a decision if the truck needs suspension help.
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Old 09-14-2012, 11:42 AM   #13
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I weighed my truck full of fuel and loaded like I would carry to pull a fiver exempt no passengers. We always take two cars camping so I can control the number of passengers. The only thing I don't have is a fifth wheel hitch. my front axle is 4,360. My rear axle is 3,020. My total weight is 7,380. If I use the GVWR of 10,000 lbs that would leave me 2,420 of cargo. If I use the RAWR of 6,200 the available cargo is 2,980. Both assume a hitch weight of 200 lbs. so if I understand correctly my limiter is GVWR with a max pin weight of 2,420. Correct?
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:25 PM   #14
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I use Firestone airbags and absolutely love them. I realize they don't allow me to increase my GVWR. What I bought them for is to stabilize the ride, which they do in spades.

My bags were fairly easy to install with common tools and no drilling. I run them with 60 pounds of air.

Pulling my trailer with and without the bags is a night and day difference. Go with the bags.
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