What are Airbag Helpers?
Airbag helper kits work together with the existing suspension. With heavier loads, you inflate the airbag to assist the suspension system is performing adequately. It allows for a lighter suspension to be mounted so the setup isn’t too stiff with light loads but can still handle the heavier ones.
In vehicles, you mount them inside the rear coil suspension, or if you have leaf suspension, they install in a similar location to where a coil might fit.
In camper trailers, they work the same. I’ve only used them installed with coil suspension, but I imagine it’s possible to fit a kit to some leaf spring camper trailers too.
Why Would You Install Them in a Camper Trailer?
If your camper trailer has a low spare payload and little storage, its weight may only vary by the water capacity. If its suspension is paired well from the factory, it should be ok as is.
On the other hand, if your existing camper or new build has plenty of spare payload like the Terra Trek TTE pictured in this article, the weight may vary massively, just like with a vehicle.
Consider the weight you carry, for instance, water tanks, jerry cans of diesel, gas cylinders, bags of firewood (when the collection isn’t allowed), a full fridge, full freezer, dry food, drinks, camping gear and outdoor activities equipment. The weight can quickly add up, especially on longer and more remote trips.
How do the Coil Helpers Install?
The airbag helpers are available as a kit from Airbag Man and often as an option on new camper trailers. The airbags themselves have a protective cover and then slide inside the coil.
The airlines can run to manual inflation points, which use a vehicle valve and compressor for adjustment. Alternatively, plumb the airlines to an onboard compressor and switches for more effortless operation.
In the Terra Trek TTE, the airbag helpers are standard from the factory. This model came optioned with a compressor gauge and switches mounted in the front locker.
As well as helping the suspension cope with the load, the airbag helpers assist with the camber. With increased load, typically, camper trailer wheels will have an increasingly negative camber as the suspension compresses. This camber can decrease the performance of the suspension and also reduce the lifespan of your tyres.
Airbags allow the suspension to be adjusted with load, and a key visual for getting the airbag pressure correct is looking at the tyre’s camber. If the airbags are too soft, you may have negative camber, and you’ll see the bottom of the wheel sticking out further than the top. Too firm, and you may see the top sticking out over the bottom of the tyre; positive camber.
Vehicle & Camper Trailer
It’s worth carefully distributing your gear to ensure the Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of your vehicle, Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM), and Gross Combined Mass (GCM) are all within legal and engineering limits.
With airbags fitted to both the four-wheel drive and the camper trailer, it is pretty easy to adjust the configuration and ensure its level and optimised for safety on-road and the most robust suspension performance off-road.
An ill-adjusted setup at highway speeds, like a drooping rear, can negatively impact steering, braking and sway, so it’s worth getting right.