by Patrick Rall

    There is a violent battle going on between the heavy duty pickups of Ford, Chevrolet/GMC and the Ram Truck brand, as they vie for the title of “Most Capable Truck”. Now, rumor has it that the Rams could take a big shot at the title with the introduction of an optional airbag suspension setup.

    The first Ram to sport an airbag suspension setup was the Ram Long
    Hauler Concept, which featured a Kelderman Air Ride system and some
    massive capacities – both in distances and weight ratings.  Should
    Chrysler find a way to offer an affordable air ride suspension setup
    similar to what we saw on the Long Hauler Concept, the Ram Truck brand
    could push their towing and hauling capacities through the roof…while
    still offering a comfortable ride.

    Unfortunately, the common complaint with heavy duty pickups offering
    huge load-bearing capabilities is a big decline in ride comfort for the
    passengers.  Along with the chassis and drivetrain, the suspension
    components play a major role in allowing trucks to carry/pull the big
    loads.  A stronger traditional suspension setup with leaf springs
    also means a stiffer setup – in turn making for a less comfortable
    ride.  However, the fully adjustable nature of an air ride suspension
    setup allows for a smooth ride under all sorts of loads – which is why
    the heavy-hauling tractor trailers on America’s roads have been using
    this type of suspension system for ages.


    The Ram Truck brand air bag system, if offered in a similar fashion to
    the Kelderman system on the Long Hauler Concept, would be equipped with a
    set of airbags in place of the traditional leaf springs found on the
    Ram Heavy Duty.  This system continually monitors the ride height and
    amount of air pressure needed to maintain a given ride height based on
    the amount of load.  Where a leaf spring system when loaded down can run
    out of suspension travel – thus making the ride rougher for passengers –
    the airbag system adds more air to maintain the same amount of damper
    and ride quality.  In addition to providing a smoother ride across a
    broader range of load levels, the Kelderman Air Ride system offer the
    driver the option of lowering the back of the truck for easier loading
    and trailer connections.

    The addition of an air ride suspension system to the new Ram Heavy Duty
    could give Chrysler’s Ram Brand tractor trailer-like towing
    capabilities, but the challenge for this option will be cost.  While a
    traditional leaf spring suspension system uses just a few basic
    components, the air ride system includes far more items — such as the
    air bladders, the air lines, the compact air compressor, the electronic
    sensing system and more.  All of these items add up quickly so it will
    be interesting to see if Chrysler can put together an air ride
    suspension package that makes a real difference in the trucking world
    without putting the price of these air ride-equipped trucks through the

    What do you think? If the price was right, would you want air ride in your ride? Voice your opinion here!