Ram Rides High and Low on Air Suspension

IMG_6514 II

It's hard to argue with Ram's growth during the last half decade as it pulled away from Dodge, creating the Ram Truck brand. What followed was a series of segment-first innovations and special features that have given the Ram Truck team momentum that other truckmakers would kill for. Just a few years ago Ram Commercial was born, and we're beginning to see that unique decision bear quite a bit of fruit.

The Ram 1500 was the first of the modern light-duty pickup trucks to move away from leaf springs in favor of the more SUV-like (and even minivanlike) coil springs as well as the first to offer a four-corner air suspension option (similar to the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class).

We suppose it was inevitable to see the same innovation that started in the Ram 1500 migrate to the bigger and stronger Ram 2500, but there were many who thought that kind of strategy just wouldn't work in the heavier-duty segments. Well, after we all saw the introduction of the 2014 Ram 2500, we found out they were wrong. In fact, given how well the coils work in three-quarter-ton trucks and how well they carry loads, it wouldn't surprise us if we see some special coil option trucks from Ram's big-truck competitors in the next few years.

Additionally, we were impressed when Ram decided to offer a rear airbag setup as an option on certain Ram 2500s because we've seen how well they worked in the big-rig trucks. The idea of being able to dump the air from those bags to independently lower the rear of the truck or modify the ride feel really got us excited. Unfortunately, the new rear axle air suspension system (a $1,595 stand-alone option across the 2500 lineup) does not allow for any driver input or adjustability. That means no lowering help when hooking up a fifth-wheel or gooseneck. No bed height dropping capability when loading the bed with cargo. And no multiple ride settings when driving either loaded or empty. We think that stinks. Why have a sophisticated system like that if you're not going to provide as much functionality or versatility for the owner as possible? We hope the lawyers weren't getting in the way, but even that would be easier to believe than Ram missing the boat on this one.

Additionally, we've also heard that the air-ride setup for one-tons (also just for the rear axle but designed more as a supplemental setup--see below) won't be available for this model year and possibly not next year. Ram says it plans to offer it next year, but we'll have to wait and see. Ram said engineers couldn't get the original design (below) to work properly and deliver the safety and ride quality they want, so the new system is likely to be modified with a stronger airbag and a more conventional leaf rear end. But to the best of our knowledge, no independent switches or driver input.

Let's hope that when the air-ride setup for 3500s does come out it will offer the function and versatility that an interactive air suspension can provide: load leveling, air dump settings, ride control and more. Until then, we'll have to be happy with a simple airbag.

 

Ram 3500 HD Airbags II

 

Comments

You can get it aftermarket...with no lawers and dual gauges with aux air to boot.

Ram...are you listening?

People who tow or haul heavy loads have been installed aftermarket airbags in their trucks for many years already.

I was happy when Ram made this an option, and even if it doesn't offer as much customizing as the driver might want, it's a good start.

I also think that over time, Ram will be able to make the coil springs match the payload capacity of everyone else.

Ram already offers plenty of trucks that have a reasonable payload capacity, the people who say it's inadequate are the same people who would buy a Ram anyways.

I have not seen any statistic indicating that moving to coil springs has hurt Ram's sales. In fact, I see quite the opposite with both monthly and yearly sales increases on a regular basis.

I had the air bag suspension on my 2004 GMC 4500 and it was great except in the winter during cold temperatures. Air attracts moisture and cold temperatures and moisture do not fix. You can drain the air tank everyday which is a pain but that does not fix the problem. And for Ram not to offer the option to lower the truck is a big mistake and they better offer a drier for their air tank.

On Rams website it shows you can get the air level suspension on the 3500, I wonder why this article says it won't be available for the '14? I'm sure Ram will have an air dump switch in the future, just give them time. It would be interesting to drive a 2500 and a 3500 with the air suspension to compare the ride with the normal suspension. I'm sure it is great under a load.

I drove a Ecodiesel about a month ago, and if I would had an extra $50K I would've bought it, its ride was incredible and the engine is really quite and had more punch than I thought it would. I like that Ram has been taking chances and thinking out side the box with their trucks, they my not get it right the first time but at least they are trying new technologies and trying to offer the public something that no one else offers. I guess that it why they've got a 21% sales growth this year and Ford has a 1.9% and Chevy has - 1.1%, I think people are noticing he effort Ram is making and it's paying off. It'll be interesting to see what Ford has in store for their new Super Duty's, poor Chevy fans have nothing to be excited about, oh, wait the new HD's have new tow mirrors!! Go Government Motors!! LOL

Coil spring rear suspension is one of many reasons people are switching from Ford and GM to RAM.
I am one of them. On second thought, I never had a Ford or GM truck and never will.


Very impressive! It is a shame my truck maker of choice can't pull their head out of the sand and come up with something new for their HD trucks. Out of date bodies, wet noodle frames, the list goes on and on. I'm going to join the RAM boys in saying:

GUTS
GLORY
RAM!!!


Greg, ram's system is a closed setup. It uses no external gasses. It only uses nitrogen from its on board sealed tank. Because it is a sealed system, no need to worry about moisture freezing in the system.

While its disappointing that you cannot lower the truck for loading and hitching ease, it will vary the ride between empy and full- that's the whole point.

This auto system stinks.

"Additionally, we've also heard that the air-ride setup for one-tons (also just for the rear axle but designed more as a supplemental setup--see below) won't be available for this model year and possibly not next year."

This stinks to high heaven.

We have aftermarket airbags on our 3500 with in-cab controls to adjust pressure on the fly. Not only is that valuable to us for the reasons noted in this article but there is another advantage the adjustable bags offer to those of us who tow fifthwheels at highway speeds. Many of those concrete freeways cause a chucking back and forth motion between fifthwheel and towing truck. Adjusting the air bags usually alleviates the problem or at least reduces it to an acceptable level.

We suppose it was inevitable to see the same innovation that started in the Ram 1500 migrate to the bigger and stronger Ram 2500, but there were many who thought that kind of strategy just wouldn't work in the heavier-duty segments. Well, after we all saw the introduction of the 2014 Ram 2500, we found out they were wrong."

I still think it doesn't work for payload and if you want to use your truck like a truck. In a 1500 Ram, I have to step up to a 2500 to get the payload I can find on 1500 or 150 from the other guys. In the EcoDiesel 1500 review you calculated a 495 lbs payload.

Then on the 2500's, the payload on a 2500 Ram SLT is 2500 and a comparable F-250 is 3300. This is a huge difference.

No example makes this more clear than what happened with the 2015 Power Wagon. Payload went from 1900 lbs max on the 2014 Power Wagon down to 1400 lbs max on the 2015 coil spring Power Wagon.

I don't think the ride and handling was so much different with leaf springs that you had to go with coil springs and lose so much payload.

Look for Ford to go with revised leaf suspension, boxed frame and lightweighting before to improve ride and handling. They'll never go to coils in the next few years.

An empty truck is likely to ride rough because the suspension is tuned to handle a heavy load. Chrysler has addressed this issue with a five-link rear axle with coil springs. COIL springs are LESS HARSH than traditional leaf springs yet they are capable of carrying a HEAVY load. Chrysler has supplemented them with an optional rear air suspension that can AUTOMATICALLY adjust to a trailer or payload. The suspension also has a load-leveling function that IMPROVES stability.

http://www.kansascity.com/cars/article448827/Ram-HD-mixes-work-with-comfort.html

Both suspension options, as well as the new coil springs offered on the three-quarter-ton Ram HDs, were motivated by the need to improve the overall RIDE QUALITY.

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2013/06/2014-ram-25003500-hd-first-look.html

If this wasn’t enough of a REVOLUTION—no one has ever tried something like this that wasn’t a military vehicle—Ram 2500 will also offer an optional set of rear HEAVY-DUTY airbags that allows for load-leveling and DRIVER-controlled, independent adjustments. The BIG BAGS will replace the coil springs in the rear and be controlled by a separate air compressor and leveling pressure sensor. An air bag system will be offered on 3500 dually models, but only as a supplemental piece of the maximum tow package, working in TANDEM with the existing multi-pack leaf springs. The 3500 system will also offer load leveling; pricing has not been finalized for either system.

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2013/09/2014-ram-hd-2500-3500-first-drive.html

GUTS
GLORY
RAM!

ALL GUTS

ALL GLORY

BIG BAGS!!!!!

RAM!

John,
Where sis you get your information stating that the RAM uses a closed, nitrogen filled system with their air suspension? I have not been able to find info on this anywhere (apart from others stating such in forums). It’s a good idea. Compressor just shuffles nitrogen between the air bags and a reservoir. I just have not seen RAM say this.

"did" -whoops.

At the Ram Truck Corporate Board Meeting the conversation went like this:
Lets give the consumer , pickup customer what they want, a diesel in a 1/2 ton and air ride suspension.
..... meanwhile at the Ford Corporate Board Meeting:
screw the consumer! they are idiots! we know what's best for them, a smaller engine and aluminum body!
.....finally at the GM Corporate Board Meeting:
Oh No! Not another recall! NOW whats wrong?

anybody have a bucket of ice water to dump over "HEMI 2017 POWER WAGON'S" head to calm him down?

@John - can you post a link explaining the nitrogen air-ride system on the Ram HD?

I am sceptical about a closed poop system because any air-ride system leaks, even tires loose pressure over time.

It has always been a problem with air brakes and entrained moisture. A moisture separator would make more sense than a closed look nitrogen system.

@Lou,

I am sceptical about a closed poop system.

A moisture separator would make more sense...

http://youtu.be/r5g_gs6nnyo

LOL.

Lou,

Geez Lou you bring up such a good point. Tires do lose pressure. I bet this system does too. Too bad auto makers haven't thought of a way of adding more air to a tire, I bet ram could have added that tech to this system too.

/sarcasm

8sp transmissions.
Selective cylinder shutdown.
Fiat sourced small displacement diesels.
Coil sprung rear axles.
Mind boggling infotainment systems.
Air bag rear suspensions.

Guts.

Glory.

Too damn complicated.

Ram trucks.

But, make sure you trade/sell the dang thing before the warranty is up due to all this complicated and rather unnecessary tech breaks down. Ugh!

@Uraidiot - Your name says it all. How does this system automatically restore lost gas when it is using nitrogen?

@HEMI - looks like autocorrect picked the wrong word.......... but then again we are talking about Ram.

Lou,

Really? It figures you wouldn't be able to tell how. How does a tire restore lost gas when it uses nitrogen?

You go put more in it.

Did this article call the Ram a minivan? So Ram owners are soccermoms?

Todd, They didn't call the Ram a minivan but they said it had a a suspension similar to minivans. Which is wrong I think most minivans use and independent rear suspention as well as a lot of SUV's. My Durango had leaf springs

Again, for those talking payload the non-Power Wagon 6.4 Ram 2500 comes with a 10,000# GVWR. I have a 2014 Longhorn crew cab 4x4 with 3000#'s + available. This is hardly inadequate by any 3/4 ton standard.

After driving get this one in the oil patch for the last 4 months and 20,000 + kms there's no question that the ride is smoothed out by these coils. And for those wondering they take on a heavy hitch weight with with a 10000# trailer with no problem.

To each their own but having a smoother ride doesn't bother me at all. There's no mistaking that it's a HD truck but it's definitely a smoothed out and refined ride yet weighing it down doesn't make the truck feel overwhelmed, either.

It still surprises me that people can't understand how a coil spring could provide a solid foundation. I have nothing against leafs at all but the thought that a coil can't do what a leaf does is ridiculous.

@CT: it pays to look at all the specs. The 6.4 Hemi 4x4 2500 crewcab shortbed has a 3252 pound payload in Tradesman. The same truck with a 5.7 engine has a 2368 payload, which is down from the same configuration in 2013, by 142 pounds.

But I guess your scroller is broke and you can't find the different 6.4 payload?

Anyway, it's wrong to say the coils automatically brought payload down.

As for the Power Wagon, in the past 4x4 reviews had people complaining it was too rigid and rough on the off-road. I'm guessing they purposely softened it for off-road use.

Have you ever noticed a Raptor super cab payload? Wow, 980 pounds. Or Rator crew? 1180! A far cry from most other super crews. With the exception of the Harley Davidson F-150 crew, a whopping 1150 or so payload. Not much of a chance the Harley guy can tow his bike trailer plus 3 passengers and be under that payload.

The 1500 did not lose payload due to coils. The truck got heavier with more options, and safety components.

If you want a Tradesman 1500 Ecodiesel crew 4x4 you will have 1232 payload, at least the one I saw was.

Start getting Ram boxes, (150 pounds extra weight) sunroof, console, 20" tires (pretty much bigger then all others 1500/f-150 tires save for the payload challenged Rapters tires) air suspension (100 plus pounds) navigation, heated seats and steering wheel, on and on, it adds up.

I agree the payload is low on the loaded ones.

The air suspension holds it up just fine, it needs a GVWR change.

Funny how it handled the best either empty or loaded with 1000 pounds and 2 passengers in the light duty challenge, while some trucks with big payload NUMBERS went downhill (GM/ Tundra.)

If Ram is using a nitrogen-filled system, it makes perfect sense. Unlike a typical air bag system that gets charged through a standard tire pump, nitrogen is very neutral and dry--less risk of moisture in the system and less risk of oxidization, which is the typical cause of breakdowns in such a system.

Nitrogen is also recommended for filling tires for similar reasons. It also tends to expand less when hot, reducing risk of blowing out the bag under heavy loads.

Why use nitrogen in the suspension system? Sure there are some benefits but are they really that significant in a closed system? You put dry air in and it’s going to stay dry. Should the system need to be topped off it is a lot easier to do if it takes air rather than nitrogen. Also, the system could fill its self from the atmosphere if it had too. I think this is all bedside the point, I have not found anything that indicates that this is either nitrogen filled or a closed system. Most big rigs run air bags using air and an open system. The same air is used to run their brakes. They’ve been doing this for a long time and do so in both moist and very cold environments. Think Ram can figure out how to make it work without the hassle of nitrogen.
So far as the 3500’s, someone mentioned in a forum a while back that the 3500 air bags where located quite a ways inboard and that that would impact the stability of the truck with bed loads, particularly taller ones such as campers. Hopefully they address that problem with the redesign.
Also, leaf springs take up the load at two points on the frame, including the tail end. Airbags (and coil springs for that matter) in the current design only carry the load at one point, above the axle. This works great for 5th wheel towing but puts a great deal more loads on the now cantilevered frame rails for rear hitch towing. On the 3500 in particular this would have a significant impact, either reducing the bumper tow rating, requiring a different frame design or a different airbag design that supports loads at the rear of the frame.

@Uraidiot - I was using that as an example of a closed system that leaks gas. Your blog name explains why you didn't get the analogy.

Yes you put more gas into it but that isn't all that great of an idea in a system like "air-ride" that has to support a 30,000 lb trailer. That is based on the premise made by a blogger than nitrogen was used instead of air.
Let me repeat:
The whole discussion was around whether or not nitrogen is used in the Ram system. The point WAS - no system is leak proof. Air ride on commercial tractor trailer units leak. Air brake systems leak.
Ram will not be able to build a leak proof system at a price people will want to pay.

Your name sums up any comment you have made.

I'd like to see some evidence that Ram's system does not or will not leak. I'd also like to see some evidence that nitrogen is used.

There are too many non-contributory morons/trolls on this site and you are one of them.

So what your telling us the next gen of all Fords trucks will have air bags as an option. With the option of raising certain bags air pressure, that currently ram does not have.
This site always has a funny way of for-shadowing.

@Brad Wright - I was using that as an example of a closed taking a leak system. Your blog name reminds me of my first boyfriend, here didn't get the analogy either.

As I said yes you put more gas into it but that isn't all that great of an idea. Although passing gas can be embarrassing, it’s also perfectly normal. Most people pass gas or belch more than 20 times a day. That is based on the premise made by a blogger than nitrogen was used instead of air.

Let me repeat:

Your gut produces excessive gas for a number of reasons — swallowing too much air or changes in your diet, for example. The whole discussion was around whether or not nitrogen is used in the Ram system. Other common causes of gas are food intolerance and difficulty digesting certain foods. Even things that are good for you, such as fiber-filled foods, also cause gas, so eating them slowly and limiting or avoiding those that give you severe intestinal gas can help ensure you get good nutrition without all the bloating and discomfort.

I'd like to see some evidence that Ram's system does not causes of gas. I'd also like to see some evidence that Justin Bieber actually stole the I Phone!

I thought I would correct a couple mistakes that Mark and the other commenters here are wrong on. I purchased a Ram 2500 MegaCab with air suspension last month. It rides amazingly well both loaded and unloaded. The ride is so much better it makes the 2500 Silverado i upgraded from seem like a covered wagon.

You can control the suspension height on the air bags. If you select the trailer towing suspension mode the bags drop the bumper. 2.25 inches from normal ride height. If you select the mode in settings menu to tow the truck (i.e. On a trailer or a tow truck) it lets all of the air out of the bags and drops the tailgate on this 4x4 to a lower height than my old 2500 2wd chevy for loading. On the other end if you select the tire jack/alignment button in the settings touchscreen the truck completely inflates the bags for maximum clearence. There is about 5.5 inches of travel in the suspension height on the rear of the truck available through the different settings.

Give them a little time. They'll get it right. I think they're off to a damn good start. Give the aftermarket a little time too. Somebody will make the suspension control for the ram air that we want and how hard could it be to find an aftermarket air drier. I hope Ram sees these comments also and make the adjustments in the near future.

A dump valve for loading and an air drier Ram. Are you listening?
I drive a tractor trailer and those 2 thing are very important to an air ride system.



Post a Comment

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
  • Your email will not be shown.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Home | Buy or Sell a Truck | News | Special Reports

Powered by Cars.com. By using this site, you agree to our terms of service | © 2014 Cars.com | Privacy Statement | Contact Us

Visit our partner: MovingTruck.com