Helper Spring Buyer's Guide
- A helper spring usually appears to be a thinner and smaller spring when compared to main suspension springs. They function to complement the main suspension spring and are specially engineered to enhance and support your vehicle’s suspension.
- The two common types of helper springs are steel springs and pneumatic springs.
- Steel helper springs reinforce your vehicle’s existing suspension. It does this through auxiliary spring/s that are either bolted above or below your main suspension spring assembly.
- Pneumatic springs expand or contract depending on the weight of your cargo. Also called air springs or air bags, they are inflated with air to level the bed of your vehicle and avoid squatting when carrying heavy loads.
- Aside from reading about helper springs and knowing the specifications of your vehicle, it is also important to keep these factors in mind: weight capacity, material durability, installation method, and value for money.
- A typical helper spring replacement will cost you around $100 to $500. To ensure that you are getting the right fit, enter your vehicle’s correct details in our built-in search console.
- Additional buying tips include learning to differentiate between helper springs from tender springs and knowing the different spring adjustment types.
Your vehicle’s suspension system is integral to maintaining a smooth and comfortable ride. This system is composed of several components such as a chassis, an anti-sway bar, and of course, the suspension springs. Along with shock absorbers and struts, they support your vehicle’s weight and absorb excess energy and impact caused by road shock.
Aside from the suspension’s main spring, there is another kind of spring that is made to support and enhance your suspension system. In this article, you will learn more about helper springs, their types, and what to look for in case you decide to install one for your vehicle. If you already have helper springs installed and you’re looking for a replacement, you’re also reading the right article.
What Is a Helper Spring?
Compared to your vehicle’s main suspension springs, a helper is usually thinner and smaller. They work to complement the suspension’s main spring. Helper springs are especially engineered to enhance and support your vehicle’s suspension and improve overall balance and performance. It's one of the most reliable suspension upgrades possible. Without balance, a powerful car can roll or skid out of control and get in serious trouble.
Helper springs are helpful for your rear suspension. Carrying heavy cargo, for example, may put your rear suspension in a lot of stress. There is a great chance your vehicle may experience squatting, which makes your vehicle point downwards especially during hard acceleration. This scenario is not ideal because it takes away weight from the front wheels which may cause reduced braking power. Thankfully, helper springs were introduced to the automotive market to help solve this problem. The spring helps a car handle extra loads and the rough weight transitions involved when driving at the limits.
Types of Helper Springs
There are two common types of helper springs: steel springs and pneumatic springs. Before buying and installing helper springs, it is best to read up on them to make sure that what you’re buying is compatible with your type of vehicle. Also, you may talk to your trusted professional about it.
Steel Helper Springs
Steel helper springs work by reinforcing your vehicle’s existing suspension by bolting auxiliary spring/s above your main suspension spring assembly. Your suspension system can also be enhanced by adding more leaf springs to the current assembly. A leaf spring helper is usually made up of coil springs. They expand and contract depending on the weight of your vehicle and the actual driving condition.
Commonly called air helper springs, these types of springs are able to expand or contract depending on the weight of your cargo. In a truck, for example, an air spring or air bag is inflated with air to level the bed of the truck and avoid squatting.
Air bag helper springs are one of the most popular choices when it comes to helper springs. One of the advantages of installing air bag suspensions is easy adjustability. You can easily increase and decrease air pressure depending on the situation. This is particularly helpful when you are loading a truck with an uneven load.
However, pneumatic springs also have some disadvantages. Generally, they are a lot harder to maintain than steel springs. Frequent maintenance may be needed to avoid any damages, leaks, cracks, or breaks.
When Will I Need to Replace a Helper Spring?
Most suspension springs are built to last for many years. However, different factors may affect the lifespan of any of your suspension springs such as frequent cargo overloading and exposure to road debris and the elements.
Generally, any changes in ride quality may be attributed to a faulty suspension component. If you notice your rear sagging while carrying cargo, this may be a sign your rear suspensions, including your helper springs, are not working as it should.
In most cases, you will hear clunking or squeaking during a bumpy ride if one of your suspension components is faulty. When this happens, it is recommended to have your vehicle checked right away.
In case your helper springs need replacement, you don’t need to worry because CarParts.com offers a wide variety of high-quality helper springs for you to choose from.
What Should I Look for in a Replacement Spring?
Shopping for suspension springs may be overwhelming. The number of options available and the different types of helper springs may cause some confusion. Aside from reading about helper springs and knowing the specifications of your vehicle, it is also important to keep these factors in mind:
Choose helper springs based on their ability to serve your exact needs. Top-quality springs can provide an impressive 1,000-2,000 lb. carrying capacity.
Since your vehicle’s helper springs are exposed to constant stress, it is important to find ones that are durable enough to withstand your cargo’s weight. Strong materials are a must for such a component. It is recommended to get helper springs that are made of heat-treated alloy spring steel for maximum durability.
To get your money's worth, choose helper springs that are easy to install and come with U-bolts and other mounting hardware.
Value for money
One important factor you should also consider is affordability and value for money. High-quality car parts do not necessarily need to be priced high. Instead, look for helper springs that are durable, high-quality, and of course, sold at an equally reasonable price range.
There are many OEM and OE replacements available in the market today. No matter what type you choose, make sure that these are high-quality and not substandard. After all, your suspension does not only ensure a smooth and bounce-reduced ride. It also helps you steer and maneuver your vehicle properly.
How Much Does a Helper Spring Replacement Cost?
A typical helper spring replacement will cost you around $100 to $500. However, some brands may exceed this price range. Helper springs are either sold in sets of two or as part of a whole kit. There are helper springs available for both the front and rear suspensions so just make sure to tick the right box. Also, don’t forget to check the product specification before purchasing to avoid buying the wrong car part.
Finding the Right Fit
To ensure that you are getting the right fit, enter the correct details of your vehicle into our built-in search console. Click search and browse through our wide selection of helper springs. From there, choose the ones that are best compatible with your vehicle. You may also filter your search according to your desired brand and the price range you prefer.
Although there are many self-help videos online on how to install helper springs, it is still recommended to have a trusted professional do the installation for you.
Other Buying Tips
Here are a few more need-to-know facts about aftermarket helper springs.
Helper springs vs. Tender springs
These two are very similar in appearance but are used quite differently. A helper spring is meant to keep the main spring snug and has a very soft rate, around 10lbs/in. A tender spring, on the other hand, has a rate ranging from 150 lbs/in to 300 lbs/ in. In addition to that, this spring is meant to be used in conjunction with a stiffer linear rate main spring. Do not confuse the two, because you wouldn't want to order a tender spring by mistake.
Helper spring adjustment types
These springs get the job done, but they cannot be adjusted according to the weight of the load. Such helper springs provide the bare minimum, but it comes highly recommended that you get one that can be adjusted.
As the name implies, these springs may be manually adjusted according to the weight of the cargo being loaded. In turn, you're able to fine-tune your helper springs to provide the needed support for your cargo.
This specific type of helper spring senses the amount of load and varies its support based on the new weight. Self-adjusting helper springs are very convenient and do not require tweaking every time you change cargo loads. For the latest in helper spring technology, it is recommended that you buy this spring variant.
How to Install a Helper Spring in 5 Steps
If you have worn out helper springs, then you'll need to have them replaced right away. On the other hand, you'll have less to worry about if you're simply installing new springs for the first time. Below is a step-by-step process to help with fixing the helper springs. This DIY job won't take up much of your time and requires only a few basic tools.
Required skill level: Novice
Difficulty level: Moderate
Needed tools and materials
- Safety glasses
- Wheel chocks
- Jack and jack stands
- Ratchet and socket set
- Tire iron
- New helper springs
Step 1: Preparation for the helper spring's installation
First, park your vehicle on a level surface and place the wheel chocks around the front tires. Then lift the rear of your vehicle using the jack and secure it with the jack stands underneath the rear axle. Afterwards, detach the rear wheels using the tire iron.
Step 2: Locating the place for installation
Once the wheels are detached, position yourself in front of the rear suspension. Locate the helper spring, which is bolted to the top of the leaf spring pack.
Step 3: Installing the helper springs
Use a ratchet and socket set to remove the U-bolts holding the helper spring in place. No need to do this if you are simply installing a new leaf spring and not replacing a broken one.
Carefully install the new spring by bolting it on to the top of the leaf spring pack and in such a way that the curled ends of the part are pointed up. The bolts should be loosely settled in position in preparation for the final step.
Step 4: Tightening the bolts
Now, using the ratchet and socket, tighten the bolts. You may install a second bolt as an additional safety measure to provide better security. Do not forget to torque the bolts into place before reinstalling the wheels.
Step 5: Reinstalling the wheels
Finally, you may now reinstall the rear wheels with the tire iron. Lower the automobile off the stands and your vehicle is now built to allow greater load capacity. Give your vehicle a run to check if the springs were installed properly.
Tips and warnings
- When working with your auto, be sure to always wear safety glasses. The underside of your vehicle may contain rust or debris that may damage your eyes.
- Additionally, wearing gloves will not only provide you a safety measure against rusting parts but also provide you a better grip with the tools.