Pickup Truck Suspension Systems

2009 Dodge Ram Rear Coil Suspension. The Chrysler Group

How a Suspension System Works

A suspension system is created with springs that absorb part of the shock when you hit a bump, allowing the tires and axle to move independently and softening the impact to the rest of the truck.

If the truck's axle was attached directly to the frame, without any type of suspension springs, you'd feel every little crack in the road because nothing would be in place to absorb the impact.

In fact, you wouldn't be able to control the truck, because its tires would bounce off the ground whenever you hit a bump.

Leaf Spring Suspension System

A leaf spring suspension system is made up of one or more long, arched pieces of steel that are made to flex when necessary (like when you hit a bump or put a load in the truck bed) but with an ability to return to their original shape.

One end of a leaf spring is attached to the frame, and the other end is attached to a shackle that can move, allowing the spring's overall length to vary as for its arch flexes (when carrying a load or traveling over bumps).

Adding more leaf springs allows the system to support more weight -- the reason heavier duty trucks have multiple layers of leaf springs.

Leaf Spring Comfort Factor

A single leaf spring typically doesn't support as heavy of a load as multiples, but it flexes more freely with the ups and downs of a road, delivering a fairly comfortable ride.

A stack of leaf springs supports a heavier load by making it more difficult for the main leaf to flex and preventing the truck from bottoming out. The trade-off is a stiffer ride when the truck bed is empty, because, without a load, very little flex takes place.

Coil Spring Suspension Systems

Coil spring suspension systems are used on the front of most trucks and on the front and back of most cars.

Systems typically have a single coil on each side of the vehicle. The coil moves more freely than a leaf spring setup, offering more give and a comfortable ride.

Truck Rear Suspension Systems

Manufacturers have traditionally used leaf springs for pickup truck rear suspensions because they felt that type of system offered the best support for heavy loads.

Dodge broke from tradition in 2009 Ram 1500s, installing a coil spring suspension system on the rear with promises that the system would carry a load without compromising comfort. We're a few years into that setup now and it appears to be working as planned -- our 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 review offers opinions about the truck's ride and capabilities.