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Timbrens or AirBags?

Timbren SES vs Air Bags

Timbren SES or Airbag Helper Springs?

You likely bought your truck partly out of affinity, partly out of necessity. When it comes to necessity, we’re talking hauling heavy loads, and towing the likes of trailers, boats and campers – all of which can put strain on the vehicle suspension. That’s where suspension kits come in handy – they provide an extra oomph of support to prevent the truck from sagging or the suspension from overloading in more demanding driving situations. But when it comes to suspension kits, there’s a debate regarding which one is best between the Timbren SES and Air Bag Helper Spring. Both have their share of pros and cons, which we’ve detailed here, so you can make the best decision for your situation:

Timbren SES: The Basics

The Timbren Suspension Enhancement System (SES) consists of a rubber bump stop, designed to mount in the space between the truck’s chassis and axle. The Timbren is intended to serve as a complementary part to the truck’s already existing suspension, and its incorporation is specifically designed to minimize – or completely eliminate – sagging while also protecting the vehicle from suspension overload. In addition to providing a better driving performance, it’s particularly ideal for towing and in driving situations where trucks are hauling heavy loads in their beds.

timbren ses
air bag kit

Air Springs: The Basics

Unlike Timbren SES, which uses a rubber bump stop, the air bag suspension kit uses an air spring to improve standard driving performance as well as more demanding situations like towing and hauling. Air springs are designed to offer the same benefits of Timbren (i.e., prevent bottoming out, prevent suspension overload, improve stability, etc.). Yet, this component installs either inside the coil, on the leaf spring or on the axle. Once installed, air springs must be inflated relative to the driving situation and conditions you’re in.

Key Similarities

From reviewing the above sections, you can likely already determine a few similarities between the two kits. For instance, they both work to complement the suspension system with load leveling. They both will reduce suspension sag which will improve truck driving performance. However, there are other key similarities that are worth noting. These include:

  • Sway reduction: In addition to providing a better unloaded and loaded driving experience, and reducing rear sag during towing, both types of suspension kits are also designed to minimize sway.
  • Ease of installation: While both are kits, both are also both revered for how simple they are to install. Timbren kits usually just require a socket wrench to install. You can learn more by watching a few Timbren installation videos. Air spring kits are a bit more difficult, as users first need to determine where to install them (i.e., leaf springs, axle, coil) and may also need to incorporate an on-board compressor to inflate it, however it's still manageable for a DIY'er.

timbren bump stop

Key Differences

One of the biggest, most notable differences between Timbren and air springs is the manner in how each adjusts to varying conditions and preferences. While air springs need to be kept at a minimum of 5 psi to protect the component, air can be added and subtracted based on driver preference. Hence, it’s a bit more customizable. Timbren, on the other hand, automatically adjusts to different loads and conditions. However, this point also segues to another key difference between the two suspension kits: degree of maintenance. With Timbren, there’s practically no maintenance since adjustments are automatic. But with air springs, maintenance must be performed occasionally to ensure the component doesn’t dip below 5 psi. What’s more is that since the air springs work with air, there’s the potential for the component to leak.

Here’s a look at some other key differences:

  • Cost: Cost varies based on the type of vehicle that you drive, but generally speaking, Timbren kits are more affordable than air spring kits.
  • Smoother loaded ride: Though both kits are designed to improve ride quality in both loaded and unloaded situations, air springs are considered to offer a better loaded ride. This is largely attributed to the fact that air springs are more customizable than Timbren via their ability to be inflated and deflated.
  • Maintenance: Timbren kits are the maintenance-free option and once they are installed you’re done. While maintaining air bags is not difficult, it still has to be done. They are like a tire in that you have to have a minimum air pressure in them at all times. The number one reason for failure that we come across is air bags that are damaged because the vehicle was driven without any air in the springs.

As you can see, both Timbren kits and air spring kits have a lot to like about them. Arguably, there’s no wrong choice when it comes to deciding between the two – perhaps just one that’s better based on personal preference and driving situations.

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