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Suspension problem on Silverado


BLACKJACK

Question

I have a 2004 Chevy Silverado 4x4 that I started pulling a 26 foot travel trailer with. I have it hooked up to the receiver hitch, with the load bearing hitch (with the two leveling bars). When the back of the truck is empty and I'm hitched to the trailer, its fine, its nice and level all the way across. Its just when I start loading the back of the truck with wood, koolers, dog kennels, etc that it starts to sag, which also makes the front end 'light'. I've been looking at options to beef up the rear suspension and this is what I've found so far.

The Chevy dealer won't touch it, he referred me to the camper place. The camper place had two options, one is like an inflatable donut and the other is a 'superspring', basically another heavy duty leaf spring that kicks in when you start loading it down. Problem is, both are spendy, $450 installed. I also don't like the idea of messing with the inflating/deflating. Of course, they'll also sell an add on pump - for more $$$.

The other option that I found is a hard rubber 'double' donut that fits between the frame and axle, it also kicks in only during heavy loads so it doens't affect your ride when not loaded. The quote on this was $225. Its made by a company called Timbren (just put that between www and com). Has anyone tried these? Will they solve my problem?

Any advice would be appreciated.

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Go with the airbags and get the on board air compressor with cab control. That is the only way to do it right. You will keep your ride empty and still be able to load it up and keep your headlights pointed at the ground. It only takes a minute to adjust from the cab so it's not really an inconvience.

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I put an "add-a-leaf" on my '93 1500, works nice but lifted up maybe 2 inches. It cost around $150 from NAPA. I don't have that big of a trailer, but with a topper, a bed load of camping stuff, home-made trailer and 2 quads the rear end doesn't move. But then again I don't mind the "lumber wagon" ride.

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The camper place that I bought my popup pickup camper from put overload springs on my 2000 Silverado for $200.00 installed. They work great. You don't know that they are there except when you need them.

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A number of years ago, I replaced the full spring assembly on a truck I used for hauling my old pick camper. Try a company that specializes in springs, and see what price you get directly from them. There are a couple up here in Duluth. Duluth Spring Co. and Zenith Spring.

Its actually not that bad of a job and it worked really well for me.

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Yeah the airbags with the in cab controls would be the ideal way to go but its also the most expensive. And then five or six years from now when I get a different truck I have to buy again....

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You transfer them over to the new truck. If you hook up the trailer often or constantly change loads in the bed the airbags are the way to go. I've always gone the add a leaf route but my friends have done the airbag thing and after seeing and riding with them the next time I do it I'll do the airbags.

You can always start out without the fancy on-board compressor and controls and add them later.

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What model is it? 1500, 2500, 3500? My guess is 1500. Go with the air bags now and when you get a new truck, upgrade to a better rear suspension. Hauling big trailers around is nothing to screw around with. Trying to get by cheap is just that. Bite the bullet and chaulk it up to knowledge gained.

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nitroant, its a 1500.

When you say 'upgrade to a better suspension', what do you mean? Instead of taking a truck off the lot, are you saying that I can order one with a heavier suspension? When I went to the Chevy dealer and asked about what I can do, they offered NO options - they referred me to the camper dealer.

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Check out Husky Spring in St. Cloud. They're on the internet, too. They have a full line of helper springs.

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I bought springs for my old nova from Husky several years ago. Basically tell them what you have and what you want to do, they make it happen.

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Blackjack-

Look into a 2500 or 3500. They are rated to tow more and have heavier rear suspensions to take the extra tongue weight. Your truck is most likely rated to tow the weight of the trailer, but I have my doubts about those ratings. You most likely don't need the 3500 for your trailer but they do have their place. My dad has a Dodge 3500 with dual rear tires to pull his 35' and loves it. I would think a 2500 would work for you. Not sure what your knowledge of trucks is, but you may also want to consider a different gear ratio in your next truck. You can order a lower gears for the rear end to aid in towing as well, but your gas milage suffers while towing and also when your not towing, so its a gas milage vs. better towing battle you will need to weigh. I would not recommend changing out your rear gears on this truck since its pretty spendy, at least $1,000. A lot of dealer don't have sales people on the floor with a lot of knowledge on whats needed for people who want to tow big trailers, they just go by that rating that we already touched on. I am not sure what other advice I can give. This summer when your camping, walk around and take note of what others are towing and what they are using. Talk to a few others and get their thoughts on what they have and what they do and don't like.

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nitroant, good idea on the walking around the campground and seeing/asking what others use.

I hate to say it, but I did upgrade trucks when we got the camper, from a 6 cylinder to a 5.3 liter v 8. I didn't want to be the one going 50 mph down the road with 10 cars behind me. Actually, I'm happy with the power, I can go 65 easily, it just doesn't have the proper rear suspension. I'm very disapointed that the Chevy dealer won't help out, but it must be a warranty thing with them. I'm hesitant to go with a 2500 when you pull the camper 6-8 times a year, then put up with the 12 mpg the rest of the year vrs 18 mpg on this truck.

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If I am not mistaken i've seen the 1500 HD series around.

I don't know the specs but should be a stiffer rear end.

I have a couple of overload springs from a 1999 3500 you can have them for free, but you'll have to add the stops.

I removed them since they made the truck tooo stiff.

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1500 HD was only a one or two year build and they got rid of it. Might want to think diesel and the 2500. Its more money up front, but you get the better gas milage. It all comes down to what you can afford I guess.

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The 1500hd was really a 2500,Had the 6.0ltr. 8600 GVW.You have to match the truck for your needs,you want a the benifits of both but only spent the money for a 1500.Most likely will have brake and rear end problems in long run.just remember altering your truck could create warranty problems.

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Thanks for the offer Valv, I'll keep it in mind. Still trying to decide what to do, going to call Husky Spring in St. Cloud and see what they recommend. Not ready to go for a new truck and pop for another $1300 fiberglass topper. Maybe the wife and I should just go back to tenting... frown.gif

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Blackjack,

You can check into a set of add-a-leaf springs. They will increase your payload a little, but as was stated earlier will add height and reduce ride quality when empty. I did a set on my 2wd ford ranger to help out with hauling sand bags in the winter. Mine were $45 bucks plus shipping from JCWhitney. Your truck would run around $67. If you are mechanically inclined, it is a relatively easy installation, just takes a couple hours.

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