Sprinter Vans work hard and nothing’s worse than rear-end sag…
We love Sprinters because of their ability to hold MASSIVE amount of stuff while being a joy to drive daily with great ride quality and a unbelievable turning radius. However, even before reaching the maximum payload capacity you may find your Sprinter exhibiting a bit of rear-end sag. If you load and unload your van regularly this most likely isn’t a problem for you, but if you’ve done a camper build out or outfitted your van with shelfs and inventory you probably know what we’re talking about.
Chosing the Right Option
To level your van and take away rear end sag you have a few different options. Each comes with benefits and downsides. The three options are helper springs, spacers and, the newest option, rubberized inserts.
Sprinter helper springs are the traditional way to add load capacity to any vehicle that uses leaf springs. Leaf springs are essentially curved pieces of high strength steel whose curve give the vehicle its ride height. As you add weight the curve is pushed down. Helper springs can either insert into the existing leaf spring stack, making it stronger, or be bolted to the outside of the stack to offset some of the load on the curve. Adding strength to the leaf springs will also increase ride height when unloaded. Helper springs offer the highest amount of weight capacity versus other options.
In addition to reducing sag/adding lift, helper springs will also improve side-to-side sway. Unfortuantely, though, adding helper springs can reduce ride quality, especially when unloaded. If you have experienced the difference in ride between a 2500 and a 3500 truck you know what this is like. In addition, while installation is fairly straightforward, helper springs can be large and heavy making putting them in more of a challenge. They also may require additional maintenance.
Similar helper springs, spacers are the traditional way to lift a vehicle. They work by adding a space between the load carrying component and where it connects to the body. Spacers are the main option if you are looking to raise your van beyond 1″ over factory height. Spacers main benefit is that they use the stock suspension components, so ride qualilty and handling are largely maintained. Their simple design also makes them effectively service free – they won’t wear out over time like other suspension components.
The downside to spacers is that they don’t improve the suspension at all other than adding height. Body control most likely will not improve and the suspension components will be compressed just as much as before even though the vehicle appears more level. Finally, pricing and quality of spacer kits can vary greatly – you get what you pay for, so choose a well-known brand to ensure a lifetime of use.
Rubberized inserts are the newest technology in load handling upgrades. Using advanced materials, these inserts typically mount between the suspension and a load-carrying part of the body, often using factory bump stop locations. In this way they act as an external support to the existing suspension system. This is a big benefit versus spacers or helper springs in that while they improve capability they don’t require modification of the existing system. By adding external load carrying cability load on the existing suspension components is reduced and ride height is increased.
Rubberized inserts can improve body control greatly, even better than helper springs. Unlike springs that require damping (shocks) to prevent bounce, rubberized inserts are naturally dampened, resulting in dramatically reduced sway especially for RV builds. Most importantly rubberized inserts won’t degrade ride quality as most are designed to react progressively to load carrying. They are also the easiests to install, often taking 15 minutes or less per axle.
Unless you are looking for maximum ride hieght for an adventure van build rubberized insert style suspension upgrades are the way to go. We’ve used them on short wheelbase low-roof vans all the way to fully built out Class-C Sprinter RVs with universally good results. Owners love the reduced sway, improved ride and ease of installation. We recommend SumoSprings from SuperSpring as they offer the widest variety of options for all 2WD, 4WD and 2500 or 3500 chassis depending on your need.