Leaf springs are essential. These little unseen devices play a major role in how your RV or trailer handles or rides. Since they are made from steel, they do not need a lot of maintenance but that construction material does not make them invincible. You will need to replace them eventually.
What RV makers know is that leaf springs move with the road. This action means that you get a smoother ride when you travel. The good news is that you do not have to do a lot of maintenance to keep these springs in top shape. The key is not to overload your RV or trailer.
To learn more about leaf springs and how to upgrade them, just continue to read our article. It has this information and more. Take a few minutes to see how this important information will solve some of your road problems.
This result will depend on the type of leaf spring you buy and how many leaves are in a pack. If you buy a set of these springs that contain very few metal leaves, then you are not going to get that smooth ride you are looking for.
What you get in return for your purchase is a rougher, bumpier ride. Buying a pack with many thin leaves will get you that smooth ride. The springs have a lower spring rate than their smaller counterpart.
That is the ticket to having a smoother ride when you go over bumpy roads. The job of the new leaf spring is to provide comfort. The many leaves in a leaf spring provide that comfort for you as they reduce the vibration your vehicle feels as it moves along the road.
Technically, it is impossible to increase the payload capacity of your truck or RV, etc. Leaf springs are generally not designed to allow you to add more weight than your vehicle is rated to carry.
What adding a leaf spring does is make sure you realize the full capacity your truck can carry. The new leaf will make the springs stronger but that extra strength does not mean you get to add more weight than the vehicle or trailer is rated to carry.
You can swap out both sets of springs for those that are rated for heavier loads but that will not increase your vehicle’s weight capacity. That change will just help you distribute the weight better.
When you add a leaf, make sure to get the ones made for your brand of vehicle. There are different designs depending on if it is a Ford, GMC, Dodge, and so on.
If by soften you mean become weaker, then yes, leaf springs will wear out on you over time. This is due to the constant heavy weight placed on them as you travel or use your vehicle.
While these springs are strong and do not need a lot of maintenance, they can rust, crack or break especially when you overload your vehicle or trailer. You should do annual checks on your springs to watch out for these issues.
Now if you think that the word soften means to create a smoother ride, then there are two ways to accomplish it. the first way is to replace your current shock absorbers with a lighter set. The second way is to replace your current leaf springs with a lower-rated set.
Both ways may be too expensive to do especially when your shocks and springs are in top condition and show no signs of wear or tear.
There are several different types of leaf springs you can buy. The list includes but is not limited to elliptic, semi-elliptic, transverse, and more. But those shapes are when you buy them.
When the vehicle or trailer is under a heavy load, you will see some flattening of the springs. This is normal and the way these leaf springs are designed to work. However, if you are experiencing some bottoming out, you may need to replace those springs because they are wearing out.
Or you need to lighten your load. Overloading your vehicle or trailer is not going to help your springs but shorten their lifespan. The arc design is where you get your spring action and if the spring is flat, you will not have a very smooth ride.
When you see that the leaf springs are flat, you can re-arc them or you can replace them. Most people opt for the latter option.
To be technical again, they should have some sort of curve to them when your vehicle or trailer is not fully loaded. As you add weight, the springs will flatten out somewhat and still will be able to provide you with a smooth ride.
However, if the springs look flat before you add the cargo, etc., then you should be looking to replace them or let a spring shop re-arc them. Re-arcing may not be the best way to go if the springs are wearing or are worn out.
Replacement in that case is the better option. One thing you do need to do is put those springs on your annual maintenance checklist. Cracks can happen at any time and having a cracked leaf is not going to bode well for you or your vehicle.
Also, you should keep checking the rust condition on your springs each year. Too much rust will weaken the springs and cause you problems as well.
All you need to do in this situation is look at your truck or trailer after you have loaded it. When the leaf springs are good and not sagging your vehicle should be level or close to level. The back is as straight as the front of the vehicle or trailer.
However, when the leaf springs are worn out and start to sag, you will see that failure when you look at your vehicle or trailer. The back will look like it is sagging. It will be lower than the front of the truck or trailer.
When you see this sag, you know it is time to replace the leaf springs. Replacement is your only option in this situation. The springs have worn out and there is no purpose trying to stretch out their lifespan by re-arcing them.
Adding a new single leaf may not help either but check with the professionals to see if a kit can be added or not.
The good news is that if you only do highway driving and use your vehicle only to go to work and back and put nothing heavy in it, then a good leaf spring set will last roughly 100,000 miles.
Unfortunately, RVs and trailers are not that type of vehicle. The more use they get, the heavier the load, and the type of roads you travel will cut that longevity down quite a bit.
It would be nice to put an exact figure on when you need to replace your leaf springs but there are too many mitigating factors that come into play. How long your set will last will depend on the type of leaf springs you have on your RV, how you drive, and what kind of load you put on them.
Also, if you go over a lot of rough roads, those road conditions can shorten their lifespan as well as if you do a lot of camping in moist regions of the country.
There are several clear signs that will tell you when it is time to replace your leaf springs. One sign will be when they appear flat when your RV, truck, or trailer are unloaded and not carrying any extra weight.
Another sign is when you see a crack in any one of these leaves. One crack is all you need to know that it is time to replace those springs. They are getting old and weak and more cracks could come at any time.
Then if you are experiencing unusual sway in normal driving conditions. Leaf springs are designed to help stop the sway. If you sway after hitting a normal bump in the road, then your leaf springs are starting to wear out.
Sagging is another sign that you need to do something about your aging leaf springs. When you load your vehicle and see the back end drop too low, then you need new sets of leaf springs.
You may not have to change them for as long as you own your vehicle. If you do not do a lot of traveling over rough roads or in very humid regions of the country, and you are parked for most of your time then the leaf springs may outlast your ownership.
That is the great news. The good news is that you may do those things and still have to wait many years before you replace them. The bad news is if you overload your RV or trailer, drive really rough roads all the time, and generally do not take great care of your RV or trailer, then you may replace those springs a lot sooner than other owners.
Of course, the quality of the leaf springs, and if you have added a new leaf or two will come into play as well. Generally, though, you may not have to replace them until 50,000+ miles have gone by. But that is a rough estimate.
The process is not as difficult as some people imagine. The first step is to start a few days in advance of the actual replacement. This step involves putting WD-40, penetrating oil, or similar products over those nuts, bolts, and brackets. Do this at least once a day.
The second step involves jacking up your vehicle. make sure to park on level ground and put chocks in front of the front tires so the vehicle won't move on you. Then loosen the wheel lug nuts on both rear wheels before jacking up your vehicle.
Now jack up your truck about 3 inches and remove both tires and their lug nuts. Step three is going to be a bit more difficult as you now have to remove the fasteners and the shock absorbers, then take off the base plate.
At this point, you get a crowbar and remove the leaf spring pack from the center pin. After that remove the bolt holding the front forward mount and do the same for the rear. At this time take off the outer plate, the shackle pin, and the shackle.
Step four reverses the process but with new leaf springs. Follow any instructions that come with the kit you have bought and make sure to align the springs correctly. Measurements may not be exactly the same for both the front and back of the springs.
Place the shackle on with new locking nuts and only make them snug, not tight. Use new nuts and bolts in case the old ones are showing their age.
Step five has you raise the front end of the leaf spring and slide the bolt into place loosely tightening the locking nut. Now bring the back end down till it comes in contact with the spring and then align the center of the spring.
Put the new U-bolts into place and tighten everything up nice and tight. Put your shock absorbers back into place after you have done all of this. Wait 7 days and double-check your nuts and bolts to make sure they remain nice and tight.
You will not have any difficulty in finding an outlet that offers leaf springs for sale. This is a vital part of any vehicle, truck, RV, or trailer thus there are many businesses that have these in stock.
You do not even have to use the internet to find one of these locations. All you have to do is drive around town and look for those shops that deal in springs or RV parts and they should have them. They may also have expert mechanics on hand to install the new set for you.
If you want to use the internet, you may be overwhelmed by the numerous results you will get. Or you can use the internet to talk to different RV owners to see where you can find the best deal. The members there will have some great tips on where to go to find your replacement set of leaf springs.
The first step is to jack up the RV so that the axle hangs free. Then you get a good tape measure and take 3 measurements. The first measurement goes from the front eye to the rear eye. That will give you the overall length of the spring.
The second measurement goes from the center spring to one eye and the final measurement will be from that center spring spot to the top of the spring pack. To get the correct leaf spring replacement, you need to know the diameter of your axle. If the axle measures only 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter, it is only a 1000 pound axle.
A 2 3/8 diameter means that the axle is rated for 3500 pounds. And on it goes up to 5+ inches in diameter which will be rated for 10,000 pounds.
No one really has a top 10 list of best manufacturers or best leaf springs to buy. The springs are not made in a one size fits all fashion so the best you need is the one that is designed for your brand of truck or RV or trailer.
The companies we saw that did these replacements or sold the springs have a large supply from different manufacturers. You will have to rely on their expertise to get the right one for your situation.
However, also check the warranty. Some companies only offer 1 year so you may want to shop around to see if you can better coverage. Then check the quality of the steel.
Leaf springs are only as good as the steel used to make them.
This is like finding a set of good leaf springs. There are different RV and truck repair shops in almost every larger town or city you visit. A quick look in the local yellow pages or other classified ads newspapers will help lead you to some different shops that handle this work.
If the shop doesn’t, they should be able to direct you to a competitor who does that type of work. You can also ask the different parts stores who is the best in town for this type of repair. They would have a better idea of who could handle this task.
Or use the trusted RV websites that have discussion forums. Those members will have a good idea of who you can trust with this repair.
This is one of the good things about steel leaf springs. They do not need a lot of maintenance to have them last a long time. However, if you want to impede the rusting process, you can use a wax toilet ring.
Just make sure the wax is soft enough to spread over the springs. This wax coating is said to help rain and other water slip right off your springs keeping the moisture from helping rust to form or get worse.
Or you can paint or coat those springs with rust inhibitors. When you go through muddy areas, make sure to rinse off those springs with a little water. This includes if you any salt that may get on them during your winter camping time.
A final tip would be to spray on some water-resistant coatings or use grease. The latter option should be a marine grease type.
The word is that you should not lubricate your springs with any petroleum products. Since the 1950s, the steel used to make these springs has been upgraded to SAE 5160 and this type of steel is not compatible with petroleum products.
The petroleum products in those oils and grease items you want to use can help deteriorate the springs a lot faster than normal. Prior to the mid-1950s, the steel used to make leaf springs could handle anything thrown its way.
According to one expert, this is one time you can ignore what the manual says when it says to grease the springs.
You will be able to see the slight difference between your springs. This can happen through a variety of sources including having a cracked or broken leaf. You can try to replace the bad leaf but the real solution to this situation is to replace both sets of springs.
If the bottom spring is a little out of alignment, you may be able to re-torque the bolts and get everything back to normal. This is something you should let the professionals handle and not rely on the advice of strangers on different discussion forums.
Leaf springs last a long time when not abused or treated in an abnormal manner. Looking after those springs comes through how you load your vehicles or trailers. Do not overload them or you will shorten their lifespan.
Also, watch where you drive as road conditions will also affect their longevity. The good news is that if you are careful, leaf springs could outlast the length of time you own the vehicle, RV, or trailer.
Just do not grease or lubricate them during your ownership.