Chrysler may offer an air suspension for Ram Heavy Duty pickups

Article by Christian Andrei, on June 30, 2011

It’s rumored that Chrysler will offer an air suspension for its Ram Heavy Duty pickups. An air suspension features sturdy airbags that replace or supplement the conventional springs and shocks of a truck. In addition, its on-board air compressors change the pressure inside the air springs to correspond to the truck’s load.

A lot of attention was given to the Ram Long-Hauler pickup concept because of its extra-long wheelbase and expanded driving range. It could handle big loads with the help of an air suspension at all four corners. In the Long-Hauler, a Kelderman Air Ride setup with a load-sensing system that can self-level the truck had replaced the rear leaf springs.

It also featured a kneeling system that could bring the ride height down to get easier access to the truck and for the purpose of backing up to a trailer. There are two main advantages that air suspensions have over conventional suspensions. These are the improved ride quality and the load-carrying characteristics.

When pickups were still new, the problem affecting heavy-duty trucks was primarily the poor ride quality due to leaf springs. Leaf springs are created by stacking several bands of metal on top of each other so that the loads that are placed on the back of the truck could be managed.

However, this construction leads to a significant level of friction between the springs that is released as the rear flexes. Because of the release of friction, the truck’s ride quality becomes poor, more so when the truck isn’t carrying passengers or load. As the consumers add more weight, the leaf springs settle down too.

Ram’s latest pickups offer improved ride quality by removing leaf springs totally for the coil spring suspension in the 2009-12 Ram 1500 half-ton. On the other hand, Ram added hydraulic body mounts under the cab that work as secondary shock absorbers to keep the truck steady, similar to the case of the 2010-12 Ram 2500 and 3500 HD pickups.

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