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Old 10-12-2017, 12:45 PM   #1
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Reducing sag in tow vehicle

Hi everyone, I have a 2012 Rockwood Pop-up (2000lbs) that I tow with a 2001 Toyota Sienna. The Toyota has a capacity of 3500lbs. I have measured and adjusted the hitch height to work with the Toyota. I am concerned that the back end of my Toyota is 2" lower when towing and could bottom-out. The shocks are all new, should I replace the rear springs as they are old or should I use air bags for the springs to cushion the back end further.

THX
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Old 10-12-2017, 01:58 PM   #2
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Shocks have nothing to do with sag.
Airbags will probably solve it but you should be concerned about your tongue weight and payload capacity of the van.
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Old 10-12-2017, 04:58 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by bikendan View Post
Shocks have nothing to do with sag.
Airbags will probably solve it but you should be concerned about your tongue weight and payload capacity of the van.


This and you can get a timbren overload kit instead of airbags much cheaper and diy. Definitely check tongue weight.
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Old 10-12-2017, 05:14 PM   #4
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If you get a weight distribution hitch, you can adjust the bars to eliminate the sag. I have a similar issue with my '13 Pathfinder. The rear suspension on that vehicle is terrible, so I raised the ball to the highest setting and add the WDH while the trailer foot is still down. That greatly reduces the sag.
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Old 10-12-2017, 08:46 PM   #5
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I feel your pain. Had two Siennas. Current one is a '13. Both with 2" receiver hitches. At least when I was researching, the Curt hitch gives the best clearance, but still hangs awfully low. We don't tow with it, but still drag the thing on a regular basis, even with an empty receiver.

I'm a big fan of the Weight Distribution Hitch, if there is one that fits your situation. Not only to get the back end up, but it would transfer some weight to the front wheels. Extra important on a FWD minivan.

But with only 200# of tongue weight (estimated), you're going to have to find the just the right WDH... The bars are basically springs, and you're going to have to get the right spring weight. Oh, and the weight of the WDH is added to the tongue weight...

A quick look on etrailer, and I found Equal-I-zer makes a WDH designed for 400# max tongue weight. If your tongue weight is the typical 10% of the trailer weight (200#) and the WDH weighs 75-80#, then you're getting pretty close to that 400#. Might be just the ticket.

But I'm no expert.

Hey! With such a light trailer you could use a bathroom scale to find out what your trailer tongue weight is! Can't do that with my 7000# trailer! At least not without a jig and some math.
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Old 10-13-2017, 01:34 PM   #6
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We had a similar problem on an Avalanche and got air shocks added for $375.
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Old 10-13-2017, 04:37 PM   #7
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I love my air bags.
My current PUP is almost 4000 pounds ready to go, and it has a 400 pound tongue weight. The bags handle it with ease, and when I don't need them, I let the air out (down to 5 pounds - NOT empty) so the truck rides well.

My previous PUP was about 2200 pounds all up and ready to go, and while the truck handled it with ease, the rear sagged...especially when the bed was loaded for camping. This is a RAM 1500 with a 7700 pound tow rating mind you. But it still sagged, my headlights blinded oncoming drivers, and the TV and trailer porpoised over bumps and dips.

The air bags are infinitely adjustable. For my current rig, 30 pounds in each is just right. The ride is level; there's no porpoising; headlights perfectly aimed; handling MUCH more secure. With the old, lighter PUP, I hadn't bothered, but when I bought the new one, I knew I needed to deal with the sag, so I had them installed when I bought the rig.

Another advantage of the bags is that they are always there. Planning a long trip with all the seats full and the cargo area packed to the gills? Pump you up!

One other thing that will help. Most vehicles do not recommend tire pressures anywhere near the max capacity of the tires. My RAM has 20's, so they are huge tires. Normal pressure is 35 pounds for my unloaded truck, but the owner's manual recommends higher inflation pressure for a loaded truck. I typically put about 600 pounds of "stuff" (250 pounds of which is extra water for boondocking) in the bed, plus the 400 pound tongue weight. 1000 pounds is no big deal, but I raise the rear tire pressure to 40 pounds (leaving the fronts at 35). This firms up the rear tires for better handling and lower rolling resistance and most importantly, less heat build up. Tire flex generates heat. The extra weight makes the tires ride well despite the higher pressure.

I love my air bags for their flexibility, ease of use, versatility for other situations, and overall improved performance.

Speaking of shocks, I'm not a fan of air shocks, because the shock mounts are not designed to be spring mounts. Carrying weight and resisting damping forces can be hard on a shock mount.

But, I also replaced the shocks on my truck with Bilsteins. Shocks (dampers) do not carry more weight. Instead, GOOD shocks control oscillation in the suspension. More weight requires more control. The factory shocks were "adequate." The Bilsteins are a revelation...especially with a live axle truck that's prone to wheel hop and axle tramp...as trucks are. The IRS on your Toyota is more well behaved, but if you haven't replaced the dampers and struts for a while, they are no-doubt flabby and weak, so it's probably time to get new ones. I'd go with Bilsteins, Fox, or other after-market, high performance brands (not Monroe and other generic replacements). They are vastly superior to most factory shocks.

Brakes are another big deal for towing. My truck brakes needed to be replaced so I bought high-end slotted and drilled rotors for the front and high performance brake pads to go all around. My trailer has brakes, but the old fashioned electric drum brakes on trailers "ain't much" as they say, and when you REALLY need to stop in a hurry, you need brakes that can dissipate heat in a hurry...and withstand lots of heat over a long period. If you need new brakes at any time, that's the time to upgrade to high performance brake rotors (front only is fine) and pads. Also change your brake fluid to high temp brake fluid. Over time, brake fluid absorbs moisture, and that moisture can boil (in the calipers where the heat is) making the brakes spongy...and rusting out your steel brake lines.
In your case, your 1 ton camper probably doesn't even have its own brakes, so this is all the more important.

Another note on braking...use your gears. I'm sure you have an automatic transmission, but you can still shift it manually. Going down hill, especially, pulling it into Drive-2 will very likely allow you to go 55 to 60 MPH but use the brakes far less. If your van has a tachometer, you'll be surprised how fast you can go and not even approach red line. If you DON'T have a tachometer, no problem. Take your van out onto a deserted stretch of road and stop. Then FLOOR it and hold the accelerator to the floor until you are in high gear. Note the speed of each shift. That's red line in each gear. My guess is your van won't shift into top gear (NOT OVERDRIVE) until you're going almost 70 MPH. If that's the case, unless your engine is worn out, going 60 MPH in Drive 2 will probably be no trouble at all.

Also, going uphill, forcing downshifts and then shifting back up to high gear over and over again on long grades is not only annoying, it's hard on the transmission. Every shift involves clutches, gear engagements, and so on. Pull it down a gear and leave it there, and you'll be surprised at how much more pleasant it is to endure a sustained climb. Monitor your tach or speedo to stay comfortably below red line and enjoy the ride. The higher revs keep the engine in its power band, and the engine/transmission (transaxle) can both run a bit cooler.

In my opinion, an equalizer hitch for a 1 ton camper is overkill. It would certainly do the trick, but they are a pain in the neck, heavy, and they can't help with other heavy loads in the van when you're not towing. The are vital for heavier trailers, because some of the load gets transferred to the front axle with an equalizer hitch. But your tongue weight on a 2000 pound trailer is probably only about 250 pounds...not worth the trouble.

The RV dealer did my air bags as part of the whole purchase package. At $500, I probably paid too much, but they were rolled into the deal and financing. I see bags for your Sienna for much less...plus installation.

That's my 2 cents and a hell of a lot more than you asked for.


P.S. this air compressor is all you need for your tires and air bags. It's in the sweet spot for quality, capacity, durability, speed, etc. You can buy much better, but skip the ones that plug into a cigarette lighter. They are typically junk. This can clamp onto your trailer battery for the trailer tires, or you can use jumper cables as an "extension" cord. It's a great compressor and the last one you'll ever need.
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Old 10-13-2017, 04:41 PM   #8
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P.S. I do a lot of my own work, and if you do, too, I bought my shocks, rotors, pads, etc. on Amazon. Brake jobs are easy except for replacing brake fluid...I let a shop do that. I had the bags installed...as I mentioned. Very likely, you'd need a shop to do that, because it's dangerous to be handling coil springs and working under a car on jack stands.
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Old 10-13-2017, 04:52 PM   #9
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Saging

I was wondering if an extra leaf on rear might boost it up enough. I have a f150 4x4. I know it costs a lot less.
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Old 10-13-2017, 05:00 PM   #10
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You have two options...
1. use a weight distribution hitch
2. add air bags

The WDH will work better if you have an electric tongue jack when you load them every time you hitch up and un-hitch.

The airbags will cost about $100 and maybe another $100 to have them installed.

The Harbor Freight WDH is a great hitch for about $200. Look for the 20% off coupons they send out periodically.

So two solutions each about $200
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Old 10-13-2017, 05:02 PM   #11
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On the subject of brake rotors, drilled slotted brake rotors are a waste of money on a truck. Drilled rotors have a WAY higher incidence of cracking which can cause a catastrophic failure. I turn my rotors when I replace pads and every other pad replacement, I usually just replace the rotor with Centric blanks.

Change brake fluid every two years which many manufacturers already recommend but owners hardly ever do. On some vehicles, like the Lexus I own, you need to put the brake ABS system into bypass mode to completely change out the fluid. The scanning software I own which is Autoenginuity has model specific software packages that allows you to do vehicle specific functions like brake bleeding. You can often do it with a pressure bleeder on many trucks but to really do it right, you need the software control through the OBD2 port.
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Old 10-13-2017, 05:03 PM   #12
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Bags for my f150 at 350 to 450 I have leaf springs.
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Old 10-13-2017, 05:05 PM   #13
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I have a 1000 lb weight distribution hitch. It helps but not far enough.
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Old 10-13-2017, 05:17 PM   #14
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I was wondering if an extra leaf on rear might boost it up enough. I have a f150 4x4. I know it costs a lot less.
"Helper Springs" certainly work. Done right, they affect the empty ride very little, but the rear MUST sag somewhat for them to engage.
An extra leaf means a much stiffer ride all the time.

If you use the truck empty a lot, you might regret an extra leaf. If you use it mostly to tow or carry heavy loads, it won't be an issue.

That's why bags are so popular. They can be tailored to the load, and they can run (almost) empty when there's no load.

As RSDATA says, a WDH is superior in many ways...especially for a heavy trailer. It transfers weight from the trailer tongue to both the rear and front axles...distributing the load better and improving handling immensely.

For the OP's 1 ton PUP, it might be overkill, and the bags are a bit more versatile. But a WDH would be a great solution even for that application.
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Old 10-13-2017, 05:18 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorSnrub View Post
I was wondering if an extra leaf on rear might boost it up enough. I have a f150 4x4. I know it costs a lot less.
You have sag towing a popup/tent trailer, with a F150?
You must a lot of weight in the bed.
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Old 10-13-2017, 05:33 PM   #16
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On the subject of brake rotors, drilled slotted brake rotors are a waste of money on a truck. Drilled rotors have a WAY higher incidence of cracking which can cause a catastrophic failure. I turn my rotors when I replace pads and every other pad replacement, I usually just replace the rotor with Centric blanks.<<SNIP>>
To each his own of course, but quality rotors don't crack, and they certainly weren't a waste of money on my truck as I drive through the Rocky Mountains. There's nothing like a 20 mile, 5000 foot descent to make you a believer in premium brakes.
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Old 10-13-2017, 06:22 PM   #17
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There's nothing like a 20 mile, 5000 foot descent to make you a believer in premium brakes.
I have a 7,000 foot descent so I understand that as well and that is with a 6500# boat on a 1/2T truck...not a small pop up camper.

If you are really worried about braking, put disc brakes on your trailer with an electric/hydraulic controller.

If you think drilled rotors don't crack, Google is your friend.
http://automotivethinker.com/brakes-...d-and-warping/
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Old 10-13-2017, 06:27 PM   #18
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//snip//
The Harbor Freight WDH is a great hitch for about $200. Look for the 20% off coupons they send out periodically.//snip//
I have the 10000# harbor freight hitch, and I think that's the only one they offer. Not appropriate for the OP's trailer. The round bars are basically springs, and the OP needs a much lower spring rate.
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Old 10-13-2017, 07:13 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by mcart5 View Post
Hi everyone, I have a 2012 Rockwood Pop-up (2000lbs) that I tow with a 2001 Toyota Sienna. The Toyota has a capacity of 3500lbs. I have measured and adjusted the hitch height to work with the Toyota. I am concerned that the back end of my Toyota is 2" lower when towing and could bottom-out. The shocks are all new, should I replace the rear springs as they are old or should I use air bags for the springs to cushion the back end further.

THX
2" is nothing but I love airbags
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Old 10-13-2017, 09:27 PM   #20
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We put on a set of these:

https://activesuspension.com/

Seem to work great, and don't hurt the ride when you aren't towing. Install them and forget it. No messing with the air pressure, etc.
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