RV suspension is critical for a smooth ride. Not only is it the foundation of your RV, but it impacts your frame and the contents inside your RV. Road shock, meaning potholes and curbs, is one of the most damaging effects on the structure of your RV and your valuables.
So how do you minimize this damage? You can minimize it by not having your RV exceed its weight limits, having your weight evenly distributed, having the proper tires on your rig, and having a good suspension system. With that said, let’s talk a bit more about how suspension works and then dive into your suspension options.
How RV Suspension Works
RV Suspension provides stability to your rig when going down the road. Your springs and shackles compress to dissipate energy. Once they have compressed completely, all remaining energy gets forced to the RV.
Meaning whatever shock your springs couldn’t absorb from nailing that pothole is now transferred to your rig. When you think about a suspension like this, it’s easy to understand that the more compression or travel space your suspension has, the better.
Now, let’s review the good, better, and best options for your RV suspension system.
Good: Factory Installed RV Suspension
The “good” option for RV suspension is the factory-installed leaf springs and shackles. Leaf spring suspension systems have been around for years; however, they can be an antiquated system considering today’s RV’s have gotten nicer and heavier while the roads have gotten rougher.
Let’s take a look at how the typical factory-installed suspension systems work.
A standard two-axle RV suspension system has the leaf springs connected on each axle that provide the suspension travel. As your trailer experiences bumps or dips in the road, those leaf springs flex to try and absorb the road shock and prevent it from being transferred into the coach.
Leaf springs and shackles provide about two inches of vertical travel on your wheels. So what doesn’t get absorbed within that two-inch movement gets transferred into the frame, sidewall, cabinets, and cargo.
Between those leaf springs, you have a center rocker called an equalizer. This component rocks back and forth in the frame hanger to equalize the weight on your axles. Without this component, the weight would disproportionately shift to the lower axle as you drive over bumps in the road.
However, because the equalizer moves back and forth, it helps them more evenly apply pressure to each axle on uneven roads. Although it is an essential component of your RV suspension system, it doesn’t provide any suspension travel. For that, you are entirely relying on your leaf springs.
The shackle assembly ties the factory-installed RV suspension together. The hardware that connects the leaf springs to the equalizer is called a shackle assembly. The industry-standard shackle assemblies are quarter-inch thick shackle plates with plastic nylon bushings and dry bolts. Over time the plastic bushings will begin to wear through, allowing metal on metal contact between the bolt and the leaf springs or equalizer. In turn, the bolt holes on the shackle plates can begin to wear. Over time, this could eventually wear to the point where they snap.
Unfortunately, that’s not something that is going to happen when your unit is sitting in your driveway or at the campground. It almost always occurs when the RV is in motion, leading to other types of damage since the leaf springs aren’t attached to one end.
Minor Upgrades to Improve Factory RV Suspension
If you’re going to stick with the factory-installed leaf springs and equalizer, it’s a good idea to upgrade to the heavy-duty shackle and wet bolts kit offered by MorRyde. Instead of plastic bushings, the kit provides bronze bushings that are less prone to wear through.
Additionally, you then replace your dry bolts with greasable wet bolts found in the kit. And the heavy-duty shackles included are double the thickness of standard ones with a half-inch of thick steel.
- Thicker shackles for added strength
- Bronze bushings for more durability
This upgrade will increase the durability of your factory-installed suspension and keep you on the road but won’t improve its performance.
If you are looking to increase your suspension’s performance and durability for less wear and tear on your whole RV, you will want to check out the “better” options up next, the CRE and SRE upgrades from MORryde.
Better: CRE and SRE RV Suspension Upgrades
We saw the CRE and SRE upgrade kits in person, and they are heavy duty. We’re first going to discuss the CRE3000.
Better: CRE3000 RV Suspension Upgrade
CRE stands for Compression Rubber Equalizer due to the compression motion it makes as you travel down the road.
The CRE3000 uses rubber to cushion and absorb road shock. It also has a unique slot that allows it to move up and down to provide three inches of suspension travel. This additional travel allows for better absorption of damaging road shock than competing brands.
It bolts into the same place as the stock suspension and attaches to leaf springs without any modifications. The best part about these kits is that you can add them to almost any travel trailer or fifth wheel as a low-cost, high-value upgrade.
The MORryde CRE upgrades are complete kits with heavy-duty shackle assemblies for both sides of your trailer and replacement bolts and bushings for all the frame hanger connections where the leaf springs and the equalizer attach on the frame.
- Smoother towing than conventional leaf springs
- Provides 3- Inch of suspension travel
Installation time is usually two to four hours and results in peace of mind as you won’t have to worry about your hardware wearing out.
Better: SRE4000 RV Suspension Upgrade
Next up under the “better” option for RV suspension is the MORryde SRE4000 suspension system. Similar to the CRE, the SRE4000 is also a rubber suspension upgrade that replaces the standard equalizer. SRE stands for Shear Rubber Equalizer due to the shearing motion it makes as you go down the road. And it allows up to four inches of wheel travel.
Another benefit of the SRE4000 kit is that it comes equipped with an X-Factor Crossmember. This cross-member provides added support at the center spring hanger, which reduces the lateral strain on the frame by up to 90%. This support makes the frame hanger stronger by boxing it in. In addition, you can install X-Factor cross members at the front and rear frame hangers as well. So what does all this mean? It means much smoother towing and better protection for your trailer from road shock.
The SRE4000 will fit trailers with up to 7,000-pound axles and works on both tandem and triple axle trailers. MORryde has a qualification guide to ensure you get the suitable kit for your unit, which we’ll link in the description of this video.
Why do they offer both the CRE3000 and SRE4000? Think of the CRE3000 as your better option and the SRE4000 as your better 2.0 option.
The SRE4000 is the next level up in suspension performance and also provides the benefit of a more robust frame. Now, we’re ready to get into the “best” option.
- 4" Of sUnited Statespension travel for exceptional towing smoothness
- Rubber shear springs for the best in road shock absorption
Best: Independent Suspension and Disc Brake Upgrade
The Independent suspension totally replaces the leaf springs and axles on most fifth wheels or travel trailers. It uses a unique double shear spring assembly that provides up to five and a half inches of suspension travel.
It also features an independent design that allows each wheel to respond individually to the road condition. This combination of rubber increased travel and independent wheel action allows the suspension system to walk over bumps that otherwise would be very harsh on your RV.
With independent suspension, you’ll notice significantly smoother towing, improved handling, and much more protection of the trailer from damaging road shock. A significant benefit is that you will no longer have to worry about cracked spring hangers or broken shackles.
The Cherry On Top: Disc Brakes
If you want the Independent Suspension, we highly suggest you opt for the disc brakes as well. We not only love our independent suspension, but the disc brakes have been a game-changer as well. Using automotive-style components, disc brakes can help reduce your stopping distance by up to 30%. Braking will be smoother and quieter, and you’ll have confidence you can stop when you want to stop.
Last update on 2021-10-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API