Air Shocks Vs Air Bags For Towing: Which Is Better? (Guide)

Some people may get airbags confused with air shocks as the word air is in both names. Plus, they have the same purpose. These two products help make your ride a little smoother but one is not as good as the other.

The air shock option is supposed to make your ride a little bit harsher. Some people have used them and are not impressed with the ride they got. However, when they switched to airbags, they were impressed.

To learn more about these two products, and their good, and bad points, just continue to read our article. It provides the information you want to know about so you can get a better ride in your RV or tow vehicle.

Which is Better Air Shocks Or Airbags?


The biggest advantage you get with air shocks is that you can adjust the level of your suspension. Also, the lower the shocks rode, the harder the ride. It should be said that the makers of air shocks are working on this issue.

Also, air shocks are not made to handle really heavy weights. Once installed, they tend to feel like normal shocks as the weight load is too great for them. This is where airbags excel.

They are made to handle different levels of weight. You can get one design that smooths out your ride or you can get the other design that lets you add more weight to your vehicle.

This is something that air shocks cannot do. Then air shocks can put a lot of stress on your hangers which in turn will eventually cause them some damage and you would be looking at replacing them.

Airbags should not cause your hangers any problems and should help your springs lift your vehicle up a little higher. Airbags are as adjustable as air shocks and you only need a bicycle pump to adjust their air level upwards.

Will Airbags Help With Towing?


Yes, they will. Unlike air shocks, airbags can really help when you are hauling or towing heavy loads. Trucks tend to have a problem when loads shift or move towards the rear of the bed. Their back ends tend to sink causing you towing issues you would rather avoid.

With the airbag installed, you can avoid these issues. The airbag should elevate the truck’s rear end enough to stop the shifting of the weight and lowering of the rear end.

When your truck’s rear end drops, you may find difficulty in steering as it gets light, your headlights illuminate tree tops, and so on. This is not a good towing situation to be in.

The airbag, with the right amount of inflation, will lift up your rear end and keep your tow vehicle level. This is a safer situation to be in and your towing, as well as your ride, will be smoother.

Plus, airbags can come with an onboard air compressor with a remote. With a touch of a button and you can add or subtract air from those bags. This will help you adjust your ride as you go.

Keep in mind, that airbags will not increase your towing capacity. The weight limit is the weight limit and airbags do not change that. You have to still watch your tongue weight as well as your payload and supply weight.

You should get better handling as your tow vehicle remains level.

Air Shocks vs Airbags For Towing


First off, the airbags should be cheaper to buy than the air shocks. This may not always be the case depending on the equipment included with your airbag system. Air shocks tend to be more expensive than regular shocks due to their purpose, design, and flexibility.

In many cases, once you install air shocks, they tend to be the load carrier. While many people may think this is not bad, it is a problem. That role can break or damage the upper shock mount which can be difficult to rebuild.

The air bags that go inside the coils of your springs are better than air shocks. They do not carry any weight and only provide support for your springs. Also, airbags are supposed to last a long time, far longer than air shocks do.

Some have lasted 25 years under normal use. The airbags let the weight remain on the spring cups, which are the parts designed to hold the weight. In addition. Air bag kits are not designed for trailers.

They are only made for tow vehicles. We mention this because some owners wanted to add some airbags to their trailer springs to help in leveling when they are camping.

As an added side note, you may find opposing views on this topic as some people do not think airbags are enough. They feel that you need better shocks when you add the airbags.

Do Air Shocks Help With Heavy Loads?


They can as that is what they are designed to do. This system was developed back in the War to help with the suspension of heavy aircraft. Over the following years, this technology was redesigned to work with cars and trucks.

What makes air shocks good for towing, is that they are adjustable. The system may be hard to inflate but once done you are supposed to get a better ride. This versatility allows you to meet your heavy load situation with ease.

Installing these air shocks may be a bit more difficult than installing the airbag system. The choice is yours to make which way you go as both systems have their detractors and supports.

In the end, it will be up to you to decide which is better after taking a ride in a vehicle that has one or the other system installed. This tends to be a comparison of 6 of one and a half dozen of another.

The two systems are well designed and after comparing, some owners will not go back to using air shocks. The same has not been said for those who own air shocks about airbags.

How Much Air Should I Put in My Airbags When Towing?


When your vehicle is empty, you will still need at least 5 psi to keep the bags from deforming. What that means is that the airbags should never be empty and without air.

Also., there are too many factors that come into play to provide anyone with a specific psi for your airbags. One of those factors will be the weight of the trailer. For a 3500 to 4000 pound trailer, you need to start at about 25 psi and adjust from there.

You can go as high as 100 psi but that is a psi for one airbag system only. Other airbag systems may have different requirements and we suggest that you read the packaging to make sure you get the right amount of air for your specific system.

Each system should tell you the minimum and maximum psi you will need even when your truck or car is empty. If you can’t see these figures, talk to the people at the store where you bought the system. They should have an idea and can help you.

Airbag Specifics

There are 2 types of airbag systems you can buy. One is called the sleeve and it is designed to control the lift of your vehicle as well as smooth out your ride. They work best in light load conditions and when there is little space to work with.

The other type is the bellows and they work with heavier loads. They can lift the same weight as the sleeve type but with 1/2 the air pressure. You can get the bellows in single, dual, and triple chambers.

The pros of using airbags include flexibility and comfort. They do allow you to keep your truck bed level making the ride safer for you. Plus, you get some comfort that air shocks may not provide.

There are some negative points to these systems. Installation of the airbags can be difficult as it involves drilling for manifold, compressor, and tank. Plus the noise may be louder than you want.

There are also issues with maintenance and expense. These systems will not be cheap and if you do not maintain them, they may not last that long.

Some Final Words

This will be a comparison that is up to your preferences. If you like everything that comes with airbags, that may be the best system for you to use. If you don’t, then air shocks are your only alternative.

Do some good research as the owners that have used airbags do not like the thought of going back to air shocks. There is something ideal about that option. These airbags options seem to do a good job leveling your tow vehicle and keeping you safe. They won’t break like air shocks will.

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