Saggy springs- Best solution?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Pookster, Apr 27, 2005.

  1. Pookster

    Pookster 1/2 ton status

    Nov 21, 2000
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    NYC, NY, USA
    Need your experience/advice

    My newly acquired purchase, this 2wd 1/2ton burb has a pretty saggy butt. There is 8 or 9 leafs in there, but im sure after 20 years, its quite worn out. But it doesnt bottom out, and it is very comfortable when it is empty (no cargo/people).

    So here are my choices-
    Get new springs. (250 bucks)
    Get old springs re-arched. (200 bucks).
    Get Gabriel helper spring over shock (adds 600lbs of extra weight support, but I dont really like the fact that its 600 lbs of weight supported at the shock mount!) (72 bucks/pair )
    Gabriel Air shock (Same thing, but 1100 lbs of extra weight support, still at the shock mount) (66 bucks/pair)
    Hellwig Load Pro helper springs- goes over existing leaf spring pack, and provides 2500 lbs of extra support, Full time support to compensate slightly for the saggyness- (234 bucks)
    Roadmaster Active Suspension- Attaches to the end of the leaf spring and the middle of the leaf spring, to provide variable rate of help. Adds up to 2200 lbs of support. 219 dollars

    I dont really see myself pulling anything extremely heavy (under 2000 lbs at most) since I have my pickup to do that job. But I know if I load up on people, fuel, gear, etc, this thing will be overweight. (Im even a litle concerned about the 10 bolt rear end) But the nice small 29" tires certainly help give it some longevity.
  2. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

    Dec 13, 2000
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    Roy WA
    I threw a set of 2" add a leafs into my K5 and I don't notice one bit of difference in ride quality. It still pretty much sucks. :)

    However, it raised the rear up just enough to be very very close to stock ride height, level front and rear. For the cost I don't think in my case there was a more effective option.

    I know many say add a leafs ruin the ride quality, but I just didn't notice any difference. The majority of my "bad ride" (IMO that is just the typical SFA truck feel) seems to come from the SFA/front axle hitting bump stops/quad shocks. You won't have that issue with 2wd.
  3. jekbrown

    jekbrown I am CK5 Premium Member GMOTM Winner Author

    May 19, 2001
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    Vancouver, WA, USA
    I'd go with new springs. Don't pay to re-arch old ones... it doesn't last and its expensive (relative to brand new ones).

  4. diesel4me

    diesel4me 1 ton status Premium Member

    Jul 24, 2003
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    New springs,or air bags...

    I'd vote for new springs--especially if its only 50 more bucks than re arching the old ones that might break a week after you put them back in!--In my experience,I've had to nearly destroy the old ones just to get them out,by the time you torch out or sawsall the bolts off,then beat the bushings out,because the bolts are frozen into them,well--you get the picture!--why kill yourself to save 50 bucks--(and the new bushings will cost nearly that much anyway--the new springs will already have new ones installed most likely)..

    Or,you could get a pair of air bags,I've installed a few sets in friends trucks,one was a suburban ,an 83 K10,it was drooping in the back some,but the owner only uses it to tow his boat to the harbor a few times a year,and go camping in NH in the summers --he has a 28 foot boat thats pretty heavy,he didnt want to use a lift kit because it adversly affects towing capability,and also didnt want to spend the 500 bucks installing new springs would have cost..his had only 5 leafs in the rear springs,not the HD 8 or 9 leaf ones--he liked the soft ride when empty,and didn't want to stiffen it up too much and make the truck uncomfortable to ride in.

    I suggested air bags--he asked about those "coil over" shocks,but I hate that idea--they put too much load on the shock mounts,they were never designed to carry that kind of load,and they only come in the "standard" OEM size piston,so they dont have the dampening of a shock like the bigger ones like a monroe magnum 60 for example--they also dont have a lifetime warranty either...Air shocks suck for the same reasons,plus the hassles if they leak..

    But the air bags I installed were only 180 bucks at a local truck supply store,and were made by Firestone--they had brackets that bolt to the frame that looks like angle iron,and another bracket that straddles the "U" bolt upper plate,and the air bag goes between the only took about 2 hours to install,and we wasted about a half hour just reading the instructions and guzzling a few beers!.

    .It rides nice!--he put the monroe shocks (Magnum 60's) on it a few days later,he said it was a bit "bouncy" with the old OEM shocks--now its like riding on a cloud--and when he tows his boat all he has to do is add some air to the bags..he uses a cheap air pump like the 10 dollar tire pumps you buy at department stores rather than the fancy "onboard" ones you can get with the air bags...overall,I'd say the air bags are much easier to install than new springs,and have the bonus of a good ride when empty as well as increased load capacity when loaded...if your springs arent rusted or ready to snap I'd say the bags are the best way to go..

    Lately,when I have the "pleasure" of installing new leaf springs,I get the new shackles and hangers to go with them--a local truck parts place sells brand new shackles with bushings for about 25 bucks,and the hangers that rivet to the frame cost about the same--so for about 100 bucks more,everything is brand new-(they sell U bolts for 12 bucks each too!)-often the hangers are rotted away in my area,so its not only a matter of ease of installation,most times you HAVE to replace them!--I find it much easier to torch off a dozen or so rivets and drill and holt the new hangers and springs on all at once--its faster and easier,and the end result is a much safer truck,and no swearing at frozen bolts,and beating them with a sledge hammer all day!.... :crazy:
  5. divorced

    divorced 3/4 ton status

    Jul 20, 2004
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    I would just buy new add-a-leafs, about $42.00 from Summit Racing. I have never noticed an overly harsh ride with the addition of add-a-leafs on any of my vehicles.

    Suburbans are so heavy that even with new replacement springs they may still have saggy butt.

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