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    Thumbs up Roadmaster Active Suspension Review

    On 7/17/12 I got together with @aloxdaddy99 to install a Roadmaster Active Suspension kit. Here's the review, with special thanks to Alox for the heavy lifting and wrenching!

    Price Per Unit: $~350.00 + S&H (see special pricing comments, below)
    Manufacturer Link: http://www.activesuspension.com/


    Product Discovery Background:
    At a NC mini-meet (GMTC people but not GMTC sponsored) in July of this year, @moogvo off-handedly mentioned Roadmaster Active Suspension as a way to reduce rear end sag when towing/hauling, reduce body roll, and improve handling. He also indicated the price point was about $350.00. This sounded too good to be true ... but also worth looking into because, if true, it'd be a really-nice-to-have item at a very reasonable price point. So I looked into it...

    At the manufacturer link, above, you can dig in and see how the product works. In a nutshell, the Roadmaster Active Suspension (RAS) system uses a pair of coil springs to help hold the rear leaf springs in their original, bowed positions as load is applied to the vehicle in the form of weight in the bed, towed weight, and/or side-to-side load shift. By design, the more the leaf springs tend toward flatness due to load, the greater the coil springs work to keep them in their original, bowed positions. This is a purely mechanical solution that is elegant in its simplicity. Unlike air bag systems there's no compressor, no air tank, no wiring, no risk of holes in air bags, etc. Installation is, for lack of a better term, braindead.


    Manufacturer Support:
    The RAS system is 100% made in the U.S.A -- specifically in Charlotte, NC -- and is warranted for two years. Prior to purchasing the RAS system I had a question pertaining to use of the system on a lifted truck ... and found myself surprised that the issue wasn't addressed on the manufacturer web site, since it's very, very thorough. So, I filled out the online form, asked my question, and was pleased that within one business day I received a response. I was completely caught off guard that the response came not by way of email, but instead by way of a phone call. (Yes, a real human actually took the time to read the message and make a phone call to a customer!) There was a time when this was the norm, but in today's world it's the exception ... one that I consider a mark of excellence.

    The individual who called me was Ryan Pasquale -- he's the national sales manager for Roadmaster and is extremely knowledgeable about the product. He indicated to me that the product works well with lifted trucks to reduce body roll ... but that lifted trucks designed for extreme off-road use (dune hopping at high speeds, deep mud bogging, etc.) are not good candidates for use of the RAS system. In my own words, I concluded that the RAS system is largely a towing/hauling accessory that happens to have a positive impact on lifted trucks as long as they're light-to-medium off-roaders or strictly pavement monsters. That sat just fine with me, as I'm in that category. Ryan and I then discussed the installation process, which seemed simple enough.


    Application Guide:
    Roadmaster has provided a page on its site to determine the right part number for a given application: http://www.activesuspension.com/RAS_...uide_eBook.pdf
    If one is still unsure after reviewing the application guide, Roadmaster customer service is, as previously noted, exceptional, and I trust they'll identify the right part number to meet a given need.


    Special Pricing For GMTC Members:
    I did not purchase my RAS unit directly from Roadmaster. Moogvo (in conjunction with Ryan) had been looking to put together a group buy for those of us here at GMTC. It was unclear if there would be enough interest ... and the number of people required for the group buy was uncertain. While moogvo was working on that I elected to price the units, myself, as I was not traveling for work ... which meant I had time to work on my rig and needed to make the most of it. As it turned out, I was able to get a fantastic deal -- cheaper than the group buy pricing that was being discussed. I paid $315.00 for my unit -- shipped to my door and including tax.

    I placed and received my order and before I performed my installation I spoke with Ryan Pasquale, again, to render some feedback on the manual that came with the product ... as well as discuss tension settings to see what he recommended. What I just told you, above, I also shared with him. Ryan thought about it, indicated that normally the number of members required for a group buy had to be substantial, but he'd be willing to honor/match the same $315.00 price shipped to the door that I paid ... in order to help increase market awareness of Roadmaster's product.

    To take advantage of this pricing you must call Roadmaster at 1-800-398-5036, ask for Ryan Pasquale, indicate that you are a GMTC member, and indicate that you're referencing @SurrealOne's screenname on GMTC and that you'd like the $315.00 price match for GMTC members. Ryan should then walk you through what you need to do to order directly through Roadmaster at that price point.


    Installation Time:
    Installation was simple. I can't underscore this, enough. For my vehicle it took ~2.5 hours from start to clean-up -- using hand tools. There was no welding, cutting, or drilling. Using the newest design of the RAS system there's also no need to mess with the ubolts. I should also quantify a few things:
    • 1/2 hour of the time I spent was wasted time in the form of taking lots of pictures to make sure I got a few good ones, as my phone takes crappy photos.
    • Another hour of the time was specific to my installation, as I have locking lug nuts for every lug nut ... making removal and reinstallation of my wheels a royal pain. (I'm also anal retentive about torquing my lugs, which chewed up some time.)
    • The remaining hour is what it'd have taken a typical person with a typical set of lugs and a typical truck ... and 50 minutes of that would be pre-prep and post-install work .... with the remaining 10 minutes of it being the actual RAS installation. 10 minutes!



    Installation Steps (Boiled-Down):

    • Chock the front wheels for safety then jack up the rear of the truck and place it on jack stands
    • Remove the wheels in order to completely unload the rear axle
    • Remove any overload springs (if you have them; I didn't)
    • Pre-position the RAS coil springs and then bolt them into place
    • Set the tension of the RAS coil springs using the supplied gauges (or use a dime or a quarter, appropriately)
    • Replace the wheels
    • Remove the jack stands and chocks and go for a test drive


    Tension Setting:
    Two options are available - 10% overload and 40% overload. A gauge is provided for each, with the white plastic gauge (dime thickness) being 10% and the black plastic guage (quarter thickness) being 40%. Higher percentages should be used for those towing/hauling heavy loads frequently. Note that per my discussion with Ryan, the higher the percentage the stiffer the ride will be. Ryan recommended 10% for my application, as I have a 1500, tow/haul infrequently, am not even close to GVWR when I do, and I do light off-roading.


    Here's what the RAS package, itself, looks like:




    And here are the contents of the RAS package:



    Here's one of the two RAS units removed from the package:



    Here's everything I needed for my installation:

    Note: The receiver pin and towing strap were used in lieu of a jack. See next image.


    A 10-ton crane makes for a nice jack, if you have one around:



    The rear end of my truck completely off the ground:



    Jack stands in place prior to work:



    RAS unit pre-positioning after axle was unloaded:



    RAS installation commences (tightening what holds it under the leaf spring, in front of the ubolt):



    Tensioning the RAS coil spring (requires two wrenches):



    RAS tension gauges (white [dime thickness] for 10% overload, black [quarter thickness] for 40%):



    RAS tensioning complete (white [dime thickness] for 10% overload was my setting):



    RAS install complete, wheels back on:

    (Apologies for the fuzzy photo -- we were struggling for light...)
    Last edited by SurrealOne; 09-20-2012 at 09:55 AM.

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