Definitive Shock Guide for Towing & Hauling

Posted by Sean Reyes on

How Good Shocks Help Towing & Hauling

Factory suspensions are notoriously oversprung and under-damped (not enough shock). This means that even though your heavy duty truck may handle 4000lbs in the bed and remain inside the Gross Vehicle Weight rating, that doesn’t mean the puny twin tube shock can dampen the load effectively.

We recently upgraded two different vehicles at Shock Surplus with Bilstein 5100s to address towing concerns, we had some awesome results both to the butt-dyno and driver confidence.

While the leaf springs or coil springs are carrying the load, the shock serves as a stabilizer for the load, and most factory shocks have poor rebound valving.

Here’s what we mean:

  • When going up a driveway with a heavy load, the rear suspension is going to compress as that load hits the uneven terrain / sidewalk.
  • The rear springs are eating up a lot of that energy, the shocks are just slowing it down a bit to prevent bottoming out.
  • But on the rebound action, as the load is coming out of compression, factory shocks are not valved to handle that much kinetic energy being released, which results in a sort of bounce or boaty feeling.
  • This starts a cycle of up-down-up-down until the vehicle settles. Good shocks can reduce that cycle by 50% in a predictable way.

Shocks which are specced for heavier loads have better rebound valving, which means as that weight comes out of compression, the shock slows down the rebounding weight a lot better. This translates to no more second or third compression force as the weight doesn’t need to come crashing down again on the suspension.

This makes a huge difference in driver-confidence when your rear end load isn’t going up and down or swaying left and right excessively.

Frequently Asked Questions - Towing & Hauling

Do shocks help with towing?

Not just any shock will make your towing experience better, simply replacing poor factory shocks will not make things better. Going with a properly dampened shock for hauling or towing, or even an off-road oriented shock will significantly help towing behavior by reducing excessive bounce or sway in your vehicle.

A safe and dependable shock upgrade for towing: Bilstein 4600 series, Bilstein 5100 series, KYB Monomax, Rancho RS7MT, Rancho RS9000XL. All of which have their pros and cons. We typically recommend Bilstein since the digressive valving nature of the shocks provide the most aid in vehicle handling.

Do adjustable shocks help with towing?

Adjustable shocks can certainly help with towing, since you can typically adjust compression valving within the shock by the turn of a knob. Shocks such as the Rancho RS9000XL, or Fox 2.0 CD, can be adjusted to behave on the firmer range of valving when under load or towing to give the best handling. Once unloaded, the shocks can be adjusted to return to a softer ride if desired.

How can I improve my towing suspension?

When under load, whether with a 5th wheel, travel trailer, toy hauler, or any load-in-tow - a stock vehicle will typically sag in the rear due to the nature of the factory suspension, which is usually setup for comfort, rather than heavy duty needs. And even if the rear springs (coils or leafs) are heavy duty enough, the shocks in that suspension are typically under-dampened for such loads, which results in excessive rebound (rear bouncing and boaty behavior).

  • Add-a-Leafs - These are leaf springs that get added onto the top of the existing leaf springs on your vehicle. These usually add additional ride height to your rear suspension, which translates to less squat when loaded. A con of this setup may be a more harsh ride when unloaded.
  • Full Leaf Pack - this is a total leaf spring replacement that can both improve the ride quality, and handle heavier loads.
  • Air Bags - these are air bags that can be inflated manually or electronically to support the suspension when under load. They effectively inflate to prevent the suspension from sagging past a certain point. There are helper bag systems that work with both leaf spring and coil spring suspensions.
  • Progressive Foam / Rubber / Urethane Springs - These are like giant bumpstops that are placed in the rear suspension that absorb the heavy loads, and reduce sagging. Typically these ‘springs’ engage early on in the suspension travel to slow down movement in the rear, and then get progressively firmer as more load is added or more travel occurs.

Do Rancho shocks help with towing?

Some Rancho shocks can help with towing. Lots of our customers have complained about the factory Rancho shocks that come equipped on many Ford and Chevy models from the factory, being too soft for heavier loads, or even for an unloaded factory vehicle.

Rancho has both the RS7MT Monotube and the RS90000XL Tri-Tube Adjustable shock that can aid in towing and hauling heavy loads. The RS7MT is a monotube shock with a large active piston, which provides consistently and excellent rebound properties to help prevent too much sway and excessive bounce in the rear. The RS9000XL is an adjustable shock with a compression adjuster. By increasing the compression setting, this will stiffen up the shocks, essentially resisting the compression (down) force occurring on the suspension. Heavy Duty trucks like these, as you can adjust the rear of the vehicle to be firmer than the front.

Why does my truck squat when towing?

When placing the trailer hitch on the tow-hitch of your vehicle, this is called the tongue-weight, and in most cases will distribute anywhere between 400-800lbs of weight to the rear of your vehicle. This is dependent on the total trailer weight and the way the trailer is balanced around its axle(s).

Most factory vehicle suspension cannot absorb this kind of weight without losing ride height, sometimes it affects ride height so much that it becomes detrimental and even dangerous for the overall handling of the vehicle.

Will air bags help with towing?

Air bags can help keep your vehicle’s ride height consistent when under load. If your vehicle is sagging in the rear when towing or hauling loads, the air bags can serve as a support system, keeping the rear ride height level with the front. By doing so, this keeps the vehicle handling consistently and within factory specifications, rather than having too much weight in the rear, which is detrimental to the front suspension dynamics.

Weight Distribution Basics and Equipment Considerations

A solid, durable, and well performing shock will help your vehicle last much longer, cost less in maintenance, and have you riding comfortably. Adjustability is a good option for special equipment vehicles that see large differences in weights from front to rear, or carrying task-specific equipment, or even just carrying around some dirtbikes.

Shocks are only one part of hauling heavy loads or towing a trailer or toy hauler. Typically under heavy loads, trucks' rear leaf springs will be handling most of the load and absorbing road feedback, while the shocks help slow down and control the movement of the rear end. For instance, a truck with a progressive leaf pack, or add-a-leaf spring on top of their stock setup will experience a ‘smoother’ ride when there is a load in the bed compressing the leaf springs into the prime window of optimal travel. Its no surprise unloaded heavy duty or super duty trucks like the F350 or a Duramax will typically ride very firm and bouncy in the rear without an additional 300-500lbs.

  • If you’re bottoming out over bumps or other obstacles, your suspension is fully compressed and hitting bumpstops within the rear shocks or on the rear axles. This typically means you’re approaching or passing the limit of the vehicle load rating. A shock will not prevent bottoming out of your suspension, and you should consider add-a-leafs for your leaf pack, or a new leaf pack that has a higher load rating, or a factory replacement to refresh the rear end capabilities.
  • When towing a trailer or something similar, tongue weight is the biggest factor to pay attention to. The trailer should be as balanced as possible, equalizing the weight between front and rear over the trailer’s axle (if single), or arranged between axles (if dual). This will eliminate excessive weight being transferred to the vehicle, and will minimize rear end travel. This minimizes the requirement of the shocks and springs to stabilize the load.
  • Rear shocks will wear out faster than normal, due to having more work and loads to stabilize. The shock will be working in the extremes of its travel lengths, along with higher than normal velocity. Both of these factors contribute to shock wear within the construction, wearing out seals and internal components from extreme pressures being generated by larger articulation.

GTW - Gross Trailer Weight

This include the total weight of the trailer, fuel, and anything else loaded on.

TW - Tongue Weight

Tongue weight is the part of the load (10-15% of GTW) that's far enough forward in the trailer to press down on the hitch. Tongue weight also includes any weight that's behind the rear axle of the towing vehicle (near the tailgate). So if you plan on loading up the trunk, you'll need to factor that in.

towing trailer hitch diagram

Too Much - Too Little

There's a balance that needs to be considered when loading the trailer, too much tongue weight in relation to trailer weight can cause the hitch of the trailer (front of trailer, rear of vehicle) to dive to the ground. This brings the front of the vehicle up, resulting in poor braking ability, poor traction, and loss of steering control. Serious consequences. If there's too little weight, the trailer is prone to swing back and forth, causing the tow-vehicle to fish tail and lose traction. This is why finding a balance between gross trailer weight and tongue weight is so important.

Other options to stabilize rear loads, while also maintaining good ride quality while not loaded, would be an Air Suspension setup. These systems allow on the fly adjustment of air bags in the rear suspension, to equalize vehicle weight front and rear, preventing rear end sag under excessive load.

Additionally, if you're looking to get into serious towing, whether commercially or recreationally, start looking into weight distribution systems.

trailer hitch

The Definitive Guide to Shocks for Towing & Hauling

When it comes to towing and hauling heavy loads, the right shock absorbers can make all the difference. Whether you're a professional hauler or a weekend warrior, having the best shocks for towing is crucial to ensure a smooth and safe ride. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the top options for shocks, including air shocks, heavy-duty shocks, adjustable shocks, and more. Shock Surplus has all your needs covered when it comes to finding the best shock absorbers for towing and hauling.

Best Shocks for Towing

Shock Surplus: Your go-to destination for premium towing shocks. Discover a wide selection of shocks towing tailored to your needs.

At Shock Surplus, we're your trusted destination for all your towing needs. We offer a wide range of truck shocks for towing, ensuring that you have the best equipment for a safe and comfortable journey.

Our inventory includes the best shocks and struts on the market, designed to enhance your vehicle's performance during towing. These components play a pivotal role in maintaining stability, reducing vibrations, and ensuring a smooth ride when carrying heavy loads. Buy the best heavy duty shocks for towing online here.

best shocks for towing

Air Shocks for Towing

Air shocks are a popular choice for those who frequently tow or haul heavy loads. These adjustable shocks allow you to fine-tune your vehicle's suspension to maintain optimal ride height and stability, regardless of the load. Brands like Fox and Bilstein offer excellent air shocks designed specifically for towing applications.

Heavy Duty Shocks for Towing

Heavy-duty shocks are engineered to handle the increased weight and stress that towing and hauling can put on your vehicle. They provide enhanced durability and control, making them a must-have for those who tow regularly. Brands like Rancho and Bilstein offer some of the best heavy-duty shocks for towing on the market.

Shock Surplus specializes in heavy duty truck shocks, offering a range of heavy duty rear shocks for towing applications. Our heavy duty shock absorbers for towing provide unmatched stability and control, ensuring a smooth and safe ride even when hauling substantial loads. Whether you're a professional trucker or a weekend warrior, our premium shocks are engineered to handle the toughest challenges on the road. Trust Shock Surplus to enhance your towing experience with our high-quality, durable heavy-duty truck shocks, designed for maximum performance and reliability.

shocks for towing and hauling

Best Rear Shocks for Towing

Shock Surplus is Your one-stop shop for the best shock for towing needs. Find top-notch shocks for towing to ensure a smooth and safe haul.

Shock Surplus is your destination for the best truck shocks. We offer a premium selection of shocks for trucks, ensuring a smoother, safer ride. Upgrade your vehicle's performance with truck shocks from Shock Surplus.

Good Shocks for Towing

When it comes to finding good shocks for towing, reliability and performance are key. Look for shocks that provide a balance between comfort and control. Bilstein shocks, in particular, are renowned for their quality and durability, making them a top choice for those seeking good shocks for towing.

Adjustable Shocks for Towing

Adjustable shocks are a fantastic option for towing, allowing you to customize your suspension to match the specific load you're carrying. This flexibility ensures a stable and comfortable ride. Brands like Fox and Bilstein offer a variety of adjustable shock options to cater to your towing needs.

Are Fox Shocks Good for Towing?

Fox shocks have gained a strong reputation in the off-road and towing communities. Their advanced engineering and quality materials make them a reliable choice for towing. Fox shocks are known for their durability and performance, making them an excellent option when seeking the best shocks for towing.

Fox shocks for towing

Are Rancho Shocks Good for Towing?

Rancho shocks are another top-quality choice for towing applications. They are designed to handle heavy loads and provide superior control over rough terrain. If you're searching for reliable and durable shocks for towing, Rancho is a brand that should be on your list.

Discover Rancho towing solutions at Shock Surplus. Explore our selection of high-quality shocks for towing, ensuring a reliable and smooth ride.

Rancho shocks for towing

Best Bilstein Shocks for Towing

Bilstein is a well-respected name in the shock absorber industry, and they offer a wide range of shocks suitable for towing. Their shocks are engineered to provide a smooth and comfortable ride while ensuring your vehicle remains stable even under heavy loads. Bilstein's reputation for quality makes them a top contender for the best shocks for towing.

Shock Surplus provides the best shock absorbers for towing. Our premium selection guarantees top-notch performance, enhancing your towing experience. Upgrade with the best shock absorbers!

Elevate your towing experience with Bilstein shocks for towing – the best towing shocks for ultimate control and stability.

Bilstein shocks for towing

Best Truck Shocks for Towing

Trucks are often the go-to choice for towing and hauling, and equipping them with the best shocks is essential. Look for truck shocks that are designed for towing applications and can handle the added weight. Brands like Bilstein, Fox, and Rancho offer top-notch truck shocks suitable for towing.

Best Suspension Upgrades for Towing

While shocks are a critical component of your towing setup, a well-rounded suspension system is equally important. To find the best suspension upgrades for towing, consider air suspension kits, sway bars, and other enhancements that can further enhance your vehicle's towing capabilities.

What is the Best Suspension for Towing

Discover the best suspension for towing at Shock Surplus. Our expertise in suspension upgrades for towing ensures that you get the ultimate towing experience. We offer a carefully curated selection of the best towing suspension components, meticulously designed for durability and performance. Whether you're hauling heavy loads or towing a trailer, our products will provide the stability and control you need. Elevate your towing game with Shock Surplus and experience the peace of mind that comes from having the best towing suspension in the industry.

best suspension for towing

Towing and Hauling

Towing and hauling heavy loads can be a challenging endeavor, but having the right shocks and suspension upgrades can make it much easier and safer. Shock Surplus offers a wide range of options, including air shocks, heavy-duty shocks, adjustable shocks, and more, to cater to your towing needs. Whether you choose Fox, Rancho, or Bilstein shocks, you can rest assured that you're equipping your vehicle with the best shocks for towing. So, if you're ready to elevate your towing and hauling experience, make sure to invest in the right shocks and suspension upgrades to get the job done efficiently and safely.

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