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Are "air ride" hitches necessary or worth the extra cost? Which Brand?


yourpcgeek49

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We hope to be purchasing our truck soon (350/3500 dually), so it's time to research 5th wheel hitches. I know that many people have an "air ride" hitch. It appears that they are about 2x the cost of a standard hitch. Are they worth it? Why do you choose (or not choose) an air ride hitch? Which brand is "best"?

 

I know, as with most things, these decisions are somewhat subjective, but the opinions of the experienced members help all of us. Thanks in advance.

 

Mark

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I have used the 25K Air Safe hitch with the Binkley head for 6 years with no problems. It has four air bags so there is freedom in all axis. There is a definite benefit to the hitch. I believe the heavier the rig the more benefit. It also has more height adjustment than some of the other air hitches. I think the air hitch is a better option than the air pin boxes since the hitch can be easily transferred to another tow vehicle.

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Yes its subjective and open to owner preferences, and the weight of your truck vs the weight of your trailer is a big factor. Either an air hitch or an air pinbox help to reduce the transfer of chucking, bouncing, swaying from the trailer to truck and vice versa. For LDT (not HDT) my personal opinion is that up to 18,000 lb trailers, an air pinbox does the job for less cost; over 18,000 lb then the extra cost of an air hitch becomes more justifiable. I like the TrailAir and Trailer Saver brands, just my personal preferences.

(For HDT folks, where the truck weighs almost as much as the trailer, the air hitch also helps protect the frame of the trailer from being twisted.)

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I used to pull with a Ford F-350, having only a Reese Slider hitch (non air ride). Moving to an MDT that has air height adjustable rear suspension and provides little to no shock absorption, an air ride hitch is highly recommended. Having used an air ride hitch for a few years now, I will not tow without one. Even if I down size back to an LDT, there will be an air hitch in the bed. The ride is so much improved and the shock transmitted from road, through the truck, to trailer is all but eliminated. People pay big bucks for their trucks and RV's, to me it makes good sense to have a great hitch between them. As far as brands of air ride hitches, I've only owned Trailer Saver TSLB2H and have been very pleased with the product. That's not to say that others are of lesser quality, I just have owned no other. I would consider buying another Trailer Saver if the need arises.

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Well, the correct answer is-"it depends"! My first suggestion is carefully check with the manufacturer of your 5er. Some of the bigger, heavier ones have disclaimers in their warranty that voids any warranty claims without the use of a proper hitch. Lippert frames have a reputation of failures. I can't verify the truth of that reputation but you might inquire about the make of frame your rig will have just so you know what you are getting. This issue is more of a concern for those using bigger trucks, ie MDT/HDTs to tow(not your case, I realize). Second is try and get a handle on the actual weight you might be pulling, not just the dry weight but at the very least the GVWR and then guestimate the pin weight, use 20% for a rough guess. The higher the pin weight the more you and your trailer will benefit from an air hitch. If your GVWR is over 16K or there abouts and the pin is over 3K then you will probably be happier with the ride using an air hitch. TrailerSaver makes a nice air hitch for pick ups. If you decide to go the conventional route B & W makes a nice sturdy hitch for pick ups which you might consider. Best wishes, Jay

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Our current fiver weighs 15,500 wet and has a TrailAir pinbox that does a good job when paired with a F350 class of truck. We have ordered another trailer that is heavier (21,000 wet) and have bought a bigger truck to pull it with. The Freightliner has a Trailer Saver TSLB2H with a third airbag to handle up to a 7,500 pound pin weight and a 32,000 pound trailer. The ride is great with the existing trailer but I am looking forward to seeing how the heavier trailer reacts in a trip.

 

I would never go back to being without air, By the way, the smaller trailer with the TrailAir pinbox and a B&W companion hitch in the F350 is a great combination.

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X2 on what Glenn West said. We towed our previous Drv Select Suite with a "hard" kingpin for 5 1/2 years. We bought a Drv Mobile Suite in November 2011 that came with a TrailAir, HUGE difference. It really takes the hard "bangs" out of towing a 5'r. The roads in the US are only getting worse and I would not be without an air ride hitch ever again.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Our trailer is on the lighter side for fivers (12k lbs) and we had a Trailair pinbox for several years which we loved. Upgraded to a TrailerSaver BD3 hitch and love it even more. I feel it is a more refined ride. Just for kicks I put the Trailair back on last summer (after 2 years of towing with the BD3). I wondered if 'more is better' and IMHO it is not. They both have their advantages but stacking them did not help. It did make for an interesting photo! As several have mentioned-once you tow with air, you will never go back. We will soon be switching to a complete air suspension on our truck. There is a reason why HDT's use air for most anything needing shock absorption from seats to cabs to axles.

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  • 2 weeks later...

First, let me put my flame suit on. I had heard a lot about needing an air hitch when towing with an HDT, but honestly, I disagree. My trailer has been rienforced for this before I purchased it, but I see no need for the effort. My old truck is triple air ride and it just glides over the bumps with ease with or without trailer.

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  • 6 months later...

Just saw the topic. Mine is a Trailsaver, about 31>3300$ ish. My last one was in a wreck, totalled the IH 4700, jackknifed the trailer, another 12k damage but the jaws held onto the trailer but did twist the hitch frame. That should be a good enough of a testimonial.

 

Got the new truck, it has the Trailsaver.

 

End of story

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What it amounts to is spring rate / reaction time. With the air hitch your on a "ball" of air. When the ball is soft and supporting the trailer (optimum pressure is 1/2 max - about 50 psi) these hitches do a lot of good. They reduce the impact of the road bumps.

 

A good way to think of it is to take a heavy fishing sinker and put it on a wire leader - drop it. When the weight hits the end of the leader, you get that sharp pull. That's your tire hitting the pot hole.

 

Now, replace the wire leader with a rubber band. of the same length and drop it. You get the bong effect. Same force / distance but you have compliance in the middle. and the force is spread out over time.

 

The hitch acts the same way as the rubber band. It takes the HARD road knocks and spreads them out over time.

 

I really love this video - it explains it all - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cwXAApjVNU - I think it is a railroad track at 2:10 to 2:15

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First, let me put my flame suit on. I had heard a lot about needing an air hitch when towing with an HDT, but honestly, I disagree. My trailer has been rienforced for this before I purchased it, but I see no need for the effort. My old truck is triple air ride and it just glides over the bumps with ease with or without trailer.

The purpose of this thread is air hitches but this comment deserves some comment.

 

The purpose of air suspension on a class 7/8 truck is not for cushion but to keep the drive train angles on the universals in range. That is why the cabs and seats have air suspension to handle the ride.

 

If you frame was reinforced, then that is your choice. Few RV trailer frames are designed to deal with the impact of almost equal weights (truck & trailer) crashing into each other. That is what the air hitch is for to dissipate the energy between the two.

 

If you are using a standard "Holland" hitch on your Volvo, you have been lucky. I have seen a class 8 with a standard hitch who could not disconnect from his trailer in a campground. There was enough twist between the truck and trailer to not allow the pin out of the pocket. Maybe it could have been worse, the frame could have broken and allowed the disconnect. Maybe the frame was cracked and just didn't show.

 

That is why air-pins are only valid when used with an RV type hitch with lateral head motion.

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First, let me put my flame suit on. I had heard a lot about needing an air hitch when towing with an HDT, but honestly, I disagree. My trailer has been rienforced for this before I purchased it, but I see no need for the effort. My old truck is triple air ride and it just glides over the bumps with ease with or without trailer.

If your frame was VERY significantly reinforced at both the pin area AND at the transition between the upper deck (gooseneck overhand area) and the main deck, with SIGNIFICANT steel then you may get away with beating it up with an HDT. Because it is going to get beat. Well, you will get away with it for awhile, at least. Maybe years. Your will also find stuff inside significantly "disturbed". Read Mark's remarks above and take them to heart. Be kind to your trailer..... :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

If your frame was VERY significantly reinforced at both the pin area AND at the transition between the upper deck (gooseneck overhand area) and the main deck, with SIGNIFICANT steel then you may get away with beating it up with an HDT. Because it is going to get beat. Well, you will get away with it for awhile, at least. Maybe years. Your will also find stuff inside significantly "disturbed". Read Mark's remarks above and take them to heart. Be kind to your trailer..... :)

I'm not trying to start anything, but I must disagree somewhat. This is just me talking from my experiences with MY setup, but my trailer does not take a beating. I know this because it is a front kitchen floor plan and I have purposely left stuff out to see what happens like plates, half water filled coffee cups and the like. Nothing moves. We have a table and chairs that are not bolted down and they never move. I have seen video from a buddy pacing me on I65 south of Louisville which is stupid rough road, and the truck suspension works, it just glides along. I may have to choke on my words someday, but for right now, I have no issue. I don't claim to know much, but I know what I know and I have observed on this sight and a few other similar sights that I frequent there are a number of mods, mostly high dollar mods, that are simply not needed by me.

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I never had air ride hitch so don't know how one would feel but I've an 18k B&W companion which I like. My king pin is standard w/ no air on it also. I guess if you have the money why not buy the best you can, as for me that was the B&W.

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I'm not trying to start anything, but I must disagree somewhat. This is just me talking from my experiences with MY setup, but my trailer does not take a beating.

The good thing for you is that the potential damage to the gooseneck frame elements are hidden by the front end cap. Your frame flexing is giving you a good ride.

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A lot depends on the size of not only the 5er but truck. For Us HDT guys air ride is almost mandatory; do some not have air ride sure. I think in your application air ride is not mandatory but I would sure want the hitch to be able to swivel tront to rear but side to side. I have used and hitch like this for years with LDT and lighter 5er's with no issue. Would air ride hitch or pin be nice absolutely just not absolutely necessary. :)

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Having pulled a few 5ers with standard suspension and rigid 5er hitches, all I can tell you is that the current 5er with the Mor/Ryde IS suspension and the truck with the Trailer Saver TS3 hitch does ride much better than the smaller 5ers previously owned. Things in the trailer are not shaken up unless we hit some really rough road.

 

So my opinion is the only suspension for the trailer is Mor/ryde IS and for the truck an air ride hitch.

 

Ken

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