How Shocks Make A Difference When You Tow

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Adding weight to your truck and trailer can have an adverse effect on the way your truck performs and handles. To tow more comfortably and effectively, there’s really three main categories to think through: (1) How is the load distributed? (2) What are you using to support the load? and (3) How are you controlling your truck and trailer? Keep in mind that a good towing setup doesn’t just use one of these categories, it really combines all three together.

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Distribution is how you’ve organized the load on your trailer. It’s important your trailer has the right weight balance before and after the axle.

This proper distribution is used to make sure your tongue weight is where it should be, which is usually about 10-15% of the total weight of your trailer combined with the load.

Shocks are the key to proper handling for towing and hauling.

Support keeps the weight of your truck and trailer off the ground to prevent your truck’s back end from sitting too low (or your front end from sitting too high). For more support, you can add air bags, stronger leaf springs or a weight distribution hitch. All help your truck stay level when it’s sitting still.

On their own, distribution and support can help stop your truck and trailer from doing the death wobble on the highway and keep it level above the ground. But they won’t stop your truck and trailer from bouncing over and over again, especially after you hit that bump when you transition to the bridge.

Control is what allows the suspension to move when it should and not when it shouldn’t. This is the shock’s job.

If you want your truck to look good and ride well while you’re towing, you need to pay attention to three things: (1) the lift, (2) the shocks and (3) the springs. This combination works together to create the optimal suspension system for however you use your truck, while providing the capability to tow while retaining the comfort when you’re not.

The Lift

This Ford F-350 Super Duty has been upgraded with a BDS 4” coil-over 4-link lift kit conversion system for improved stability, strength and caster control during wheel travel compared to the stock radius arm setup.

Shocks are the key to proper handling for towing and hauling.

If you don’t use a lift that keeps the original geometry, you actually reduce the truck’s ability to tow not just payload, but actual capacity because the load bearing members have changed position.

Also, when you changed tires, make sure their load rating remain the same! These vary and oftentimes aggressive tires have lower load ratings (because of bigger sidewalls and smaller wheels, which is good for off-road but bad for towing).

The Shocks

Compared to stock, performance-minded shocks with greater levels of damping force provide greater comfort and control while towing. FOX Performance Series 2.0 shocks give immediate, easy-to-use comfort and stability, while Performance Elite Series 2.5 shocks add the option to fine-tune your ride to any scenario or load with more comfort due to the larger shock bodies and bigger pistons and shims.

The Springs

In front, FOX Performance Elite Series 2.5 remote reservoir coil-overs include a standard remote reservoir as well as a Dual Speed Compression (DSC) adjuster, preset out of the box for optimal performance with the weight of the 6.7L Powerstroke diesel engine. Paired to these FOX coil-overs are a set of auxiliary FOX Performance Series 2.0 shocks with an internal floating piston (IFP) to further enhance damping for a smooth ride on any terrain.

Shocks are the key to proper handling for towing and hauling.

Loads of weight up front with a big solid axle need a lot of damping force to control; hence our recommendation for two sets of shocks.

In the rear, matching FOX Performance Series 2.0 shocks complement the front setup for maintaining on and off-road performance. Heavy leaf springs on Class 3 trucks offer additional damping from the friction between the leafs; generally the compression tunes on these shocks are quite light as a result, although rebound tunes are heavy to control the extra weight and chassis movements.

Shocks are the key to proper handling for towing and hauling.

And while a good towing setup combines proper weight distribution and ample support from the springs, it’s only performance-minded shocks that will allow your vehicle to absorb bumps and immediately recover by controlling the endless bouncing and lurching that constantly plagues trucks that tow.


Like what you see? Check out all the FOX Academy videos for powered vehicles and mountain bikes here.