Posted by Jason Locke on 7/25/2020 to
Before you Buy
The 2015-2020 F150s are some pretty capable trucks and can tow and haul just about anything you need to have a good time off-road or get the job done. That being said, it's not hard to run into stability and handling problems long before your F150 hits its GVWR or GCWR. The good news is that there's more than one way to prevent wonky handling on your truck when it's loaded down, especially when it's lifted or leveled. F150 Add-a-leaf Kits
, Helper Springs
, Extended Bump Stops
, and Air Spring Kits
are all potential solutions to your F150's handling problems when loaded down. Granted, there's pros and cons to each method that you probably should consider before taking a plunge into one of these upgrades. Check below for the breakdown!
2015-2020 F150 Add-a-Leaf Kits
Add-a-leaf kits are one of the more common forms of load support, though they are more generally seen as a rear ride height upgrade more than anything else. 2015-2020 F150 Add-a-Leaf Kits
are essentially a pair of single leaf springs that install into your F150's factory leaf packs to provide both load support and extra rear ride height. In general, most add-a-leafs add between 1.5" and 2" of rear ride height and provide roughly 900lbs of extra support (not that you can go beyond your truck's rated load capacities. More on that later). Add-a-Leaf kits are a nice addition to pretty much any F150 build. They're fairly inexpensive, though installation is a little more intensive than some other part types. Unlike some of the kits we'll talk about later, Add-a-Leafs don't effect rear travel which makes them a great choice for trucks that may need full off-road travel while carrying around a lot of other gear. The big downside to Add-a-Leaf kits is their ride height increase is essentially permanent. This may be a bad thing if you want a dead-level look when you're unloaded or want to minimize rake.
2015-2020 F150 Extended Bump Stops
Extended Bump Stops like the SuperSprings SumoSprings
or the Timbren SES
are extremely handy, though somewhat misunderstood load support upgrades. These kits are essentially elongated rear bump stops that install in place of the stock bump stops and keep your 2015-2020 F150 from squatting too much. There will still be some squat, but the longer bump stops will rest on the axle's strike pad sooner than stock and keep your F150's rear end propped up. These extended bump stop kits are made using improved foam over stock, which helps them absorb impacts and support heavy loads on the rear, which means that your loaded ride quality doesn't suffer when your truck is loaded down. More importantly, these kits don't have almost no effect on your unloaded ride quality. While the bump stops included in these kits are longer than stock, they won't contact the axle during unloaded street driving, which keeps your ride smooth around town while providing you excellent stability when towing and hauling. While kits like the SuperSprings and Timbren SES are a little more pricey than an add-a-leaf kit, they're not super-expensive and install is extremely easy. This all being said, there are a couple of down sides. The biggest one is that they only mitigate squat, and don't outright prevent it. So, if you're obsessed with staying dead-level or if you're towing and hauling extremely heavy, you could potentially see some stability problems, though it won't be anywhere near as bad with just the stock rear suspension setup. Secondly, the longer bump stops do cause a minor decrease in rear suspension travel, which may be a problem for some of the more hardcore off-road folks. Now, we've been running Timbren's SES Kit on our 2019 F150 King of the Desert Build for a bit now, and John (who owns the thing) both tows and off-roads pretty hard with that truck, and has not noticed a big impact in rear travel during his occasional 65mph jaunts through the desert, but on paper, there's a travel impact.
2015-2020 F150 Bolt-Over Helper Springs
Bolt-Over helper springs install over your factory leaf packs and provide an awesome level of loaded support for all of your stuff. These springs are essentially add-a-leafs without the hassle of taking apart your factory leaf packs, but provide more support than your average Add-a-Leaf Kit or Extended Bump Stops. Bolt-Over Helper Springs like the Hellwig EZ-990s
and SuperSprings Self-Adjusting Helper Springs
are easy to install are likewise not super-expensive. These F150 helper springs can provide up to 2000lbs of load support, which is more than enough to keep your truck level no matter what you're towing. The EZ-990s and SuperSprings Self-Adjusting Springs are an excellent way to win back stability if you're really pushing your truck's GVWR. There are some downsides to bolt-over helper springs. One of the biggest is that bolt-over helper springs are pretty rough on your unloaded street ride. While ride quality is generally acceptable when loaded, bolt-over helper springs can greatly increase the stiffness of the rear end when the bed is empty and nothing on the tongue. That being said, the springs are fairly easy to install and remove, and it's not overly difficult to put them on and take them off when needed. However, that does make these springs a bit more of a hassle than other options.
2015-2020 F150 Air Spring Kits
Aftermarket air springs are the ultimate in say in load support. Air Spring Kits
can support up to 5000lbs of load, and with the ability to fill the included air bellows as much as you need, you can essentially support whatever gear or trailer that you want to bring along with you. F150 Air Spring Kits can level almost any load and can help keep your truck at an even stance and even keel while maxing out your F150's GVWR and GCWR. Air Spring Kits from both Air Lift and Firestone include the air springs themselves, brackets, hardware, and air lines that allow for a straightforward installation on your truck. Installation is a bit more intensive than just about any other load support system, and things can kind of pricey if you're planning on also adding an on-board compressor kit and controller, but even extremely heavy-duty Air Spring Kits aren't going to put a huge dent in your budget. Air Spring Kits aren't without their downsides, though. One of the biggest is that they tend to roughen up ride quality, even if you're running them with some amount of air pressure. Air Springs also really limit rear suspension travel, and it's not impossible to tear the air bellows if you're really throwing your truck around off-road. Lastly, air springs are most effective with on-board compressors. While they can be used with gas station compressors or portable compressors, being able to constantly adjust the air pressure is extremely handy, especially if you have a shifting load or you're changing altitude and temperature during your journey.
F150 Load Support Parts & Kits: