Take five minutes to watch the video of how we improved our towing handling, and then read below to find out more!
When we moved into our nüCamp T@B 400 camper and 2019 Toyota Tacoma we couldn’t be happier. But we soon realized that our truck would need a few improvements to handle the extra weight of the larger camper. Mainly, we needed something to help reduce the amount of squatting we were seeing in the back end of the truck when we hitched up the camper.
We were faced with the question of whether to go with helper springs or air bags on our truck. Both products will help reduce the sag in the back end of the truck and improve handling of the truck while operating at higher payloads. Both products also have their ideal uses.
Ideally, we wanted to stay away from moving parts that could fail (like air bags). We also tow about 75% of the time, which means that we don’t really need the adjustability that you get with airbags. So, we were leaning pretty heavily towards helper springs after our initial research.
In September 2019, we were representing nüCamp RV at the Hershey RV show in Pennsylvania. We had the chance to speak with a few representatives from Hellwig; a company that manufactures helper springs, air bags, and front/rear anti-sway control bars. We had a lot of questions and these guys were able to answer all of them. After our chat we were set on getting helper springs for the Tacoma. Considering the amount of miles we drive and tow, the reps also recommended front and rear sway bars for the truck.
With all of the information from the Hellwig reps we went back home and did a little more research. Turns out, Hellwig has been in this business for over 70 years and they have amazing reviews online. So, we figured this company must know what they’re doing and decided to go with their products.
For the helper springs, front sway control, and rear sway control the total price was around $900. That may seem like a lot, but for a safer towing experience and improved handling while driving with and without a load we feel like it’s a pretty good deal.
Since we live full-time in our camper we don’t have much for tools and certainly don’t have any space to do auto work. So, while in Missouri for Christmas we were able to get into the mechanic Kendrick’s dad has been using for years—Mark Guy with Complete Auto in Richmond, Missouri.
The front sway control is pretty easy to install. Simply remove the front skid plate and the subframe supports for easy access to the stock sway control. Then, remove the stock sway control and replace it with the aftermarket one.
Front sway bar for Tacoma
The helper springs are another relatively easy install. A few of the pieces require a specific orientation. So, be sure to follow the instructions!
The rear sway control is the most difficult part to install. The Tacoma does not come with a stock rear sway control. So, to install this part you must drill a few holes into the frame of the truck.
Rear sway bar for Tacoma
Overall, if you have a decent collection of tools, space, time, and some auto mechanic experience then installation of all of these products isn’t too bad at all.
Prior to installing the helper springs our truck would squat a little bit even without a load. The topper and the Decked drawer system were enough weight to make the back end sag. After installation, I could immediately tell that the truck was sitting more level.
Our biggest worry with the constant support helper springs was that we might experience a rougher ride when driving the truck without a load. But, the Hellwig reps were right in telling us that the ride would be pretty much the same as before!
After a few months of driving Kendrick was finally able to fully form an opinion. He knew the helper springs were needed to level out the truck and make towing safer, but he was a little skeptical about the front/rear sway control. After a bit of driving in the mountains, he seemed convinced that the sway control improvements were helping with handling, especially around the tight mountain road switchbacks.
In short, we’re happy that we installed all three of these products. We knew that our towing setup was not the safest prior to installing these, but now we’re pleased with the way the truck handles and don’t worry about any unsafe towing situations.
So, here’s to miles and miles of safe towing…