Posted by Jason Locke on 6/6/2021 to Before you Buy
There's no doubt that the 2009-2021 F150s can tow and haul in extremely impressive fashion, especially the later model years equipped with HD towing packages. That being said, even the most up-optioned, tow-ready F150 will start seeing noticeable levels of sag, instability, and other issues long before you reach your F150's factory GVWR, GCWR, or payload capacities. While there's no way to actually increase your F150's tow ratings, there's plenty of ways to make your F150 tow and haul a bit easier and win back handling, stability, and your running temperatures when you're towing or hauling heavy. Just about any of these 2009-2014 F150 towing upgrades or 2015-2020 F150 towing upgrades can help you out this summer and ensure you don't have to white-knuckle it to and from your intended destination.
What happens when you tow with your F150?When you're towing, hauling, or otherwise putting a lot of weight in your truck's bed or hitch, a couple of things happen. The biggest and most impactful of which on how your F150 drives and handles is rear sag. As load gets put on the leaf springs, they start to flatten out, which lowers your F150's rear ride height. Generally, this isn't too big of a deal, and is a pretty common sense effect of adding load. In fact, your F150 is designed for this from the factory, which is why bone-stock trucks have a bunch of rake from the factory. However, if you're towing or hauling at the edge of your F150's rated capacities or if your truck's leveled up front, you'll find that you may be sagging in the rear so much that your truck may end up nose-high. This is less than ideal, since being nose-high causes weight to shift off the front wheels, which means that your steering inputs get "vague" to say the least, and the rearward shift in your truck's center of gravity changes your ride dynamics. Most aftermarket towing upgrades focus on combating sag, giving you a ton of options for winning back stability and control.
Towing a fairly large trailer, 5th wheel, or toy hauler also has the added effect of introducing sway, especially if you don't have the weight of your trailer-borne cargo set up just right. Trailer sway is especially an issue in high winds with fairly tall 5th wheels and toy haulers. There's a few aftermarket upgrades to help prevent sway, but a lot of preventing sway requires good trailer prep and keeping your trailer's overall weight under control.
Preventing Rear Sag with a set of F150 Helper Springs2009-2014 F150 Helper Springs and 2015-2021 F150 Helper Springs are a way to effectively combat sag. Helper springs like the Hellwig EZ-990, SuperSprings Self-Adjusters, or the Roadmaster Active Suspension provide extra load support to your F150's leaf springs so that you get far less sag with a given amount of weight. The Hellwig EZ-990 and SuperSpring Self-Adjusters are essentially an extra set of leaf springs that bolt over the factory leaf packs. The F150 Roadmaster Active Suspension System likewise bolts over the stock leaf packs, but features a coil spring instead of a leaf. The upside to these helper springs is that they provide excellent load support and can keep your F150's rear end from sagging, even if you're towing extremely heavy loads. The bad news is that they do stiffen up your F150's rear end when loaded, so it's a good idea to remove these helper springs when you're not towing or hauling. While that sounds like a pain, these helper springs are pretty easy to take on and off. SuperSprings SumoSprings or the Timbren SES System install in place of your F150's factory bump stops and are both longer and made out specialized materials that help prop up your F150's rear end when you're loaded down, but still allowing articulation while unloaded. While extended bump stops don't have quite the load support capability as the bolt-over helper springs mentioned previously, they are nice in that they don't really effect your ride quality when unloaded, so you don't have to remove them to maintain a clean ride when unloaded.
F150 Air Springs for Ultimate Load SupportThe final say in preventing sag and winning back stability are Air Spring Kits. F150 Air Spring Kits consist of a pair of extremely durable air bellows that mount to your truck using brackets. When they're inflated with a either a standard air compressor (or better yet, an on-board air compressor), they prop up your F150s rear end when under load and they can handle IMMENSE amounts of weight, which makes them perfect when you're pushing the upper limits of your F150's GCWR and tongue weights. Air Springs from Air Lift, Firestone, or Hellwig all provide excellent levels of load support and allow for fine-tuning your air pressures to fit your load. You can even put different air pressures on each side if you have an unbalanced load so that you can get stability, even if you have some odd cargo. While Air Springs do provide awesome support, they do effect ride quality across the board, and most require at least 5psi of pressure in them at all times. Given their fairly extensive installs, they're also not the easiest things to remove, and the fact that they bolt on to both your frame and either the axle or leaf springs, they can cost you some travel. Still, if your F150 is a dedicated tow vehicle, a set of air springs may be your best bet.
Reducing Sway with F150 Rear Sway BarsWhile the F150s may rated to tow extremely heavy, they are a 1/2 ton truck, and the 2015-2020 F150s are especially light, which means that large trailers and 5th wheels tend to push them around when things get windy. Needless to say, this can lead to plenty of white-knuckling that you probably want to avoid. One of the best ways to combat sway is with an aftermarket sway bar. The F150s don't come equipped with a sway bar from the factory, and adding one to your F150 can make a significant difference when it comes to keeping your truck under control. Hellwig is one of the premier F150 sway bar manufacturers, and their F150 rear sway bar is one of the go-tos for adding rear end handling when loaded. Hellwig also offers a front sway bar that's thicker than stock, and we put together a complete front and rear sway bar package that really helps keep your F150 planted.
There are plenty of F150 towing upgrades that can help you tow a bit better, a bit safer, and keep your blood pressure under normal levels. Let us know which towing mods you're looking for this summer in the comments below.