Camping with Mr. Heavy Duty Springs.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1991

Dear Tom and Ray:

I own a 1976 Chevrolet three-quarter-ton pick-up truck. When I purchased it, the truck had a 2500 pound camper in the truck bed. It has heavy duty springs to assist the load. I recently sold the camper and have replaced it with a camping trailer that has a hitch weight of 500 pounds. I took the pick-up to my mechanic and asked him to remove the heavy duty springs because the truck rides terribly rough without the trailer. He said that I needed the heavy duty springs for the new trailer, too. Wouldn't the truck ride much smoother and still carry the load without the heavy duty springs?

RAY: Sorry, Tom. This is probably the price you're going to have to pay for driving around with your house behind you.

TOM: You may be able to get by with softer springs, but you need to get a professional opinion. If your springs are too light, then the back of the truck gets pushed down. Why is that bad? Well, because it makes the front of the truck stick up in the air.

RAY: That's great for bird watching, but not very good for driving. More importantly, when the front end is elevated, the truck doesn't steer or stop very well. In other words, it's very dangerous.

TOM: And even though you're carrying less weight now, all 500 pounds are now right on the back bumper--the worst possible place they could be in terms of the effect on the truck's handling.

RAY: So take the truck and trailer to a place that sells trailers. They should be able to appraise the load for you. If they say you can get by with softer springs, go to a shop that specializes in springs and have the work done there.

TOM: If the trailer shop says you're out of luck, then you have two choices. You can suffer with the harsh ride. Or, when the trailer is off, you can carry an equivalent load to add extra weight. Just throw something else in the back of the truck--like a ton or manure or an old Triumph Spitfire.

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