Could Ram Offer an Air Suspension for its Heavy-Duty Pickups?

Could Ram Offer an Air Suspension for its Heavy-Duty Pickups?

There’s chatter that Chrysler may offer an air suspension for its Ram Heavy Duty pickups.

An air suspension uses tough airbags that replace or supplement a truck’s conventional springs and shocks. On-board air compressors adjust the pressure inside the air springs to match a truck’s load.

The Ram Long-Hauler pickup concept, which grabbed attention for its extra-long wheelbase and extended driving range, featured an air suspension at all four corners to help manage huge loads.

In the Long-Hauler, the rear leaf springs were replaced by a Kelderman Air Ride setup with a load-sensing system that can self-level the truck, plus a kneeling system that can lower the ride height for easier access to the truck and for backing up to a trailer.

Air suspensions have two advantages over conventional suspensions: improved ride quality and load carrying capabilities.

Since the earliest days of pickups, heavy-duty trucks in particular have suffered from poor ride quality because of leaf springs. Leaf springs are made by stacking several bands of metal on top of each other to manage loads placed on the back of the truck. But this construction creates a tremendous amount of friction between the springs that is released as the rear flexes. This release of friction translates into poor ride quality, particularly when the truck is empty. The leaf springs settle down as more weight is added.

Recent pickups from Ram have improved their ride quality either by ditching leaf springs entirely — in the case of the coil spring suspension in the 2009-12 Ram 1500 half-ton — or by adding hydraulic body mounts under the cab that act as secondary shock absorbers to calm the truck, in the case of the 2010-12 Ram 2500 and 3500 HD pickups.

By reducing the pressure of the air suspension’s pneumatic bladders, unloaded ride quality can be improved to dampen suspension flex. The heavier the load, the more pressure that’s pumped into the airbags.

Extra air pressure can also be added to raise the height of a truck for better off-road capability.

With Ram’s dedication to improving the ride quality of its trucks, the Long-Hauler appears to show us how serious the brand is considering all avenues of innovation. Airbags could also give Ram HD pickups more hauling capability than other competitors in the segment – bragging rights that would be very important in the market.

If there were an optional air suspension package for a heavy-duty pickup, would you buy it, or would you stick with conventional leafs and shocks?


As a fulltime rv'er towing a large fifthwheel with a Ram 3500, I'd sure buy the air suspension. Sounds like a good overall solution.

- Is this just out back or front also?
- Long overdue in any event!
- Not sure I'f I'd want "just the bags" though. What if you blow one? No mechanical piece keeping it up at all?
- Another benefit is when empty suck it down to punch a smaller hole in the air aiding all important mpg.

So lets summarize:
- Much better ride when empty.
- Lower step in height.
- Potentially better mpg.
- Higher payload ratings (if they want them) and increased real world capability.

Only other question I have is: when will they add them for the Ram 1500 to address its lone weakness.... And right now guys take their leaf spring trucks and add aftermkt airbags to boost real world capability or if nothing else to level out truck. Guy trades in a 2009 3500 ram with added bags for a 2012 with factory and he wants "more" than the factory system will take does he still have options? I guess aftermkt would stp up and offer bags to fit in same location with more capability? Or better compressor etc.

I've installed a helper airbag system on my F150 and it makes a world of difference. I highly recommend them.

If they offered this and an Allison tranny option they would be king of the hill.

I personally would pay $1000-2000 for an Allison trans option.

Dodge, give me a reason to replace my 2010 2500 Laramie with a 2013 3500 Laramie longhorn :)

oh, they would also need to bump GVW and GCWR.

11,500 for the 3500SRW and 13,500 for DRW would be ideal.

@The Common Man

All air bags have poly bumpers in the middle of them (inside the bag) that will support the load in the event of air loss or a failure of the bag.

In Europe (the Netherlands) we use airsuspension for al the BIG Rigs for more than 30 years. gvwr of 50 ton's 50.000 kg on 5 axel's (for the law illegal upto 75 ton's) i'm driving on those rig's for almost 19 year's and it never happend to me that one of the airbags's driving much better than leaf springs.greetings from Holland Geert-Jan

Yes I would buy them....I have instaled them in the past, they work.

Sounds like a good idea.

Both light and he rams could benefit from bags. Replacing the rear coils in the 1500 is a natural, while using them combined with slightly softer leaves in the 2500/3500 makes sense to me. In this arrangement, you could even share a lot of parts

If it were an option, for a reasonable price i would.. $800 to $1200 sounds about right.

But I think something this revolutionary should be standard.

It seems people who like using US Pickups as tow vehicles for their Caravans and 5th Wheelers in Australia go to airbags for a much better ride.

The 1500 needs no airbags. It's fine the way it is. If you need to haul a big load on a consistant basis. Get a heavy-duty. I hate when people say the 1500 needs a bigger payload rating. Ram gave it the Coil-springs for a reason. And a high payload rating wasn't one of them.

I think this is a great idea. I also think Ram needs to crap or get of the pot because i can just about guarantee that Ford and GM are thinking the exact same thing, and it will be a cold day in hell before those 2 let Ram be the first to offer this; but on the same token i could be very wrong and they purposely allow Ram to be the first to the market with this to measure how well it will take. I think there's a similar situation with the .5 ton diesel thing, no one thinks a market exists for it, so they allow nissan to be the first one out to measure public appeal.

I think I'm beginning to appreciate this Dodge-Ram split thing. It's allowing for more engineering time to be available and dedicated to the trucks. No more sharing of engineers between cars and trucks. If this continues, hopefully Ram will make a darn respectable name for itself and with that a hell of a recovery from the Daimler-Cerberus destruction. Innovation always helps, whoever is first to the market with an adjustable air ride suspension will see an exponential increase in sales volume.

Looking at the above pic, look at the ground clearance issue. It does not look like it has much ground clerance for the size and weight of the truck.

Even with air bags it will be too low and heavy and will sink and get hung up very easily offroad and on some roads or in the winter months with snow.

This is needed.

Its a haul truck, not an off-road toy, it wont be mudding or rock climbing with a load or trailer attached.

I love how Ram trucks constantly making innovative updates (Rambox, coil springs and now airbags) to their trucks since 2009.

probably the best thing about this setup, by far, is NO AXLE HOP!!!

OMG - the grass is almost as tall as the rims. Better get a truck with a winch as this beast will get stuck on the front lawn ;)

Heavy work trucks are different animals than "go play" trucks.
In my town, a muddy 1 ton crewcab with a headache rack, and VHF antenna on the right front fender has more offroad credibility than any of the Raptor's or PowerWagon's or Tacoma's with TRD badges that I've seen. Actually, I have yet to see a muddy Raptor or Power Wagon, or TRD Taco.

The work guys are out their because they have to be.
Those guys don't drive midsized trucks.
Ever wonder why?

A truck's leaf springs can't be blamed solely for poor ride. The actual culprit is the massive unsprung mass of the beam axle. Reduce that mass some amount by any available means and ride quality will improve. Independent rear suspension in pickups is only a matter of time.

Air suspension is good. Airbags don't creak, either.

Looks to be about a 4" ground clearance without a load. Hmmmm.

The only problem I see with air suspension is longevity and replacement cost.
When the H2's had A/S, average life was 80K miles, and replacement cost was $1200.

And you just know Dodge is scarfing old GM parts.

Hmmm I hope that is not a picture of the actual frame , that looks like a bent frame waiting to happen unless there is a cross member where the air bags are located .

I would buy it if I had the money! Factory airbags would be awesome. The integration could be a lot better than an aftermarket setup. Just like factory trailer brakes would be a lot nicer to have.

@Geert-Jan Our situation in Australia is similar to the European one, except we have a lot of cabover Japanese MDT's, and conventional cab US style HDT trucks as well. So
I think very few people would here would want to drive a heavier than a F150 style pickup unless it had airbags. A MDT or HDT Cabover using only steel springs would be a nightmare. Currently European HDT trucks are liked for their ride, turning circle and ergonomics. Their price, parts availability and high maintenance costs due to the extensive electronic and automated driver aids make them less desirable.

@ Dan I believe you may need to get your eyes checked sir, the grass is almost up to the rims and is nowhere near the frame (the frame is above the spare tire in the picture).
@ Tacoman aka Oxi A properly equiped Ram 5500 has enough payload to carry 3 broken Tacomas off the trail :)
@ Taylor I agree, that is the position that the air bags mount as a supplement on some of the trucks I`ve seen, but without extra support that will end badly.

My brand new Ram 3500 4x4 SRW SWB High Output Cummins 800 rides very nice... I like the leaf setup

I'd like the air bags offered as an option to suppliment the leaf springs - not replace them. Today's HD pickups ride 100 times better than trucks of just 5-10 years ago. I can't stand when folks buy a 1 ton truck and complain how it rides. You bnought it presumably because it will carry a load - a big load.

The air bags would allow the driver to keep the truck level under near GVWR loads. The more level the truck, the better the steering and braking.

I had a Dodge with supplimental air bags (on top of the factory leafs) and using just 10 psi of air actually made the truck ride nicer than no air at all. It seemed to stabilize the leafs, taking some of the bounce away.

RAM give me a check box on an order sheet for airbags as an option on all trucks (1500 - 5500) and we're in business.

My little GMC Envoy Denali has rear suspension airbags and it's one of my favorite things about it. Ride quality is excellent both loaded and unloaded, which is impressive since it has such a relatively short wheelbase for a truck/suv. It's also nice that, because of the air bags, it has a built in air compressor. I can lower my tire pressure for more traction off-road, then just pump it back up when I'm done.

I would love to see larger trucks with a 4-corner air suspension. For off-roading, you can raise it up. For highway driving you can lower it for better handling, less noise, and better fuel economy. With a trailer, it can be set to perfectly level out the hitch and tongue, so you don't get too much sag. As long as it's reliable it would be great!

Boys, that is just some tall as_ grass. The setup is fine. Look at the pictures from the auto show it was introduced in.

Lookin' at those airbags, I bet they're heavier duty than the ones someone mentioned being on an H2. Those look closer to the style of a airbag we use in transit. Those airbags tend to last about 120 to 200K miles depending on which fleet has them. I wouldn't worry about longevity. It just means you have to actually inspect those things every so often and look for cracks/fraying in the rubber. Also, if you do go off-road, make sure you get the mud and sand out of there, as the grit is was slowly kills these suspensions.

I have noticed Ram is trying to offer options, features that Gm and Ford don't. I can't say I blame them as they are sucking hind titty in the truck wars. Let's see, Ram copied GM with the "Ram Box" Avalanche had this feature for years before Ram said lets offer that feature in a pickup. Ram also copied GM'S idea for a coil link rear suspension as the Avalanche has this idea as well. Next thing you'll know, Ram will have a "Man Step" as well.

I have to say, the Dodge Ram has come along way from where they were and I think the New body design in the half tons are pretty attractive. Where Dodge has always suffered is the quality and durability of their vehicles. Dodge has really improved in this area but are still behind GM and Ford.

Ford invented the "Man Step" now that is some funny stuff. Wait, wait, here comes the and complaining. It never fails. Just wait for it, here it comes.....

I think it's a great Idea. I can see it being equipped with leaf springs though.. and the Air Bags as a add-on attached to them. But easily up-fitted by a dealer.

@Michigan Bob aka Bob.

Sop trolling the Ram post.

Who really cares as to who made what first?

I only care about who makes the best version of what I like.

If you look at the sales figures, most would agree with me.
Ford #1 and Ram has made huge gains in truck sales.

Where is GMC?
Assemby plants closed due to stagnant inventories.
(That is even after having to idle assembly lines due to parts shortages from Japan).

New trucks..... when?
That is well after everyone else.

If you look at the thread on the Ford Sporttrac concept. It had a midgate design 4 years before the Avalanche concept came out.

If Ford and Ram were to copy GMC, that would mean GMC would have to come out first or have something worth copying.

Really Lou? your going to say GM copied the ford sport trac concept when they made the Avalanche, Yea right and I have ocean front property in Arizona I want to sell you. Face it Lou, your a fricken ford home boy that thinks the sun sets and rises on anything ford. You try to be cute with your posts but your just a little punk running that sewer of a mouth you have on the computer.

Lou, you wouldn't know the truth if it slapped you upside the head. Now shut the puck up!

We've been using this Keldermann suspension for several years on GM and Ford ambulances. It's well designed and durable, but you can't adjust the height to suit yourself at the moment. These suspensions are designed to operate at a particular height and if you try to change it, you'll have a truck that will handle terribly, even unsafely! I've had people adjust the height, usually lower and then problems occur. We allow the truck to kneel when stopped, because lifting a 125 Lb. stretcher with a 300 Lb. patient using two people can be real difficult at the standard height of these trucks, but when in motion, the specified height must be maintained.

Also, they make a front suspension for some trucks with I Beam axles.

I think all three manufacturers should offer factory airbags. I think if it was standard, it would make it pointless to have separate three-quarter and one-ton trucks.

@Alex - I think all three manufacturers should offer factory airbags
GM does, name's Bob.

@ Six Dollars

Count your blessings! We have too heave our stretchers into our new GM chassis and are the ever friggin high! I'm not short and some times when the unit is on a grade I'm on my toes and the Pt's feet are at my nose to get the stretcher in :-((

Airbag options for me Plz!

You better just drive them in the south during the winter months. Cold weather plays hell with air suspensions unless you have a dryer.

I would stick with the simplicity of leaf-springs. I do not need another sophisticated (hoses, pumps, valves, etc.) component to have to worry about malfunctioning.

Buy American:

agreed sir, I just find it astounding how so many "hard working" tradesman like the supposed ones that frequent PUTC that argue and fight on here, and are totally intrigued about spending their hard earned money on a "smooth ride" in a one ton, or to have a "automatic transmission" that shifts 8 times. I mean, Look at some of these:

1) Man steps and midgates on trucks, 2)air ride suspensions on a pickup truck that is meant to work, 3) in dash LCD's that look like computers and goofy little gadgets like Sync, reverse cameras, etc, 4) 800 Lb/ft of torque 90% of people will likely never tap into....more likely they will use it to beat someone to the entrance ramp rather than use it to work/pull a load, 5) 8 speed automatics transmissions (overseas, autos are considered for handicapped people, at least that is what some Europeans told me last year when they rented a car and couldn't find a manual trans vehicle except a little econobox), 6) electronic running boards that come out when you open the door........ I cannot believe people would spend their hard earned money on this kind of stuff, maybe in a traveling vehicle, but a work truck like a one ton? Good lord, what is pilot so you can just sit in the passenger seat and let your goofy little electronics drive the rig for you too?

Good greif, are their any men left that buy a pickup truck to work with? Seems like a bunch of sissies working from their office arguing the latest gizmos on trucks here on PUTC

@Red, in my brother's business he had to put airbags on his Silverado, and his business partner had to do the same for his Ram 2500, because the loads they carry weigh the bed down too much on the springs. Airbags not only help, but they can have a completely level ride. Combine that with the extra comfort, why wouldn't you offer them from the factory? Airbags are better for a working truck.

The aftermarket has had success with air bag suspension for years. I'm actually a little shocked that this hasn't become a factory option yet, to me it's a no-brainer.

You know Land Rover had been using 4 corner air suspension for years. Raise it or lower it.

I had an order placed for a 2011 Ram HD, that I cancelled due to color limitations after the tsunami in Japan. Had I known about the possibility of air suspension for 2012 I would have waited for that option in any case.
I drive 60-ton trucks for a living and air suspension is a no-brainer.

Also, since Chrysler already offers air-suspension in their Jeep Grand Cherokee, it would be close to malpractice not to incorporate such a feature where it really matters...

I do love also how the newer truck are coming equipped with Air suspension. Air is the smoothest ride. Feels like your driving on air! :LOL Whats nice is that you can find easy replacement parts as well. I have not had a problem with my Dodge Ram ever!!. I do have a aftermarket kit on mine and enjoy the ride so much!!

I have experienced riding on heavy trucks every time it hits rough roads I can surely feel the bumps that I become dizzy. Air suspension kits installed in trucks will certainly improve the comfort level of the driver and passengers.

In A Heartbeat!!

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