RAM 3500 Air Suspension Issues Explained

In this brief article we are going to discuss the Ram 3500 Air suspension issues, what causes these issues and Tips on how to deal with these issues effectively.

The Most Common problems with the RAM 3500 Air Suspension are:

  • Service Air Suspension Warning message
  • Ram 3500 Harsh Ride Quality
  • Failure to self-adjust Ride Height
  • Ride Height Self-Adjustment Failure

Ram 3500 Air Suspension

The Ram 3500 is classified as a “One-Ton” truck, meaning, it has a minimum payload cpacity of 1 ton Depending on the equipment on the truck the payload capacity can also go upto more than 3.5 tons.

The Ram 3500 has a rather unique suspension configuration as compared. While the Ram 2500 has a Hotchkiss Suspension with Air Springs, the Ram 3500 is different in that the Rear suspension is Leafspring in parallel with Air springs, or in other words, Leaf Spring basic with Pneumatic Assisted Suspension

‘Service Air Suspension’ warning message

  • While trying to adjust ride height, the warning message shows up
  • The system does not allow height adjustment anymore

Troubleshooting ‘Service Air Suspension’ warning message

  • Check whether the fuses 05, 50, and 87, related to the air suspension, are seated properly or not. If necessary remove and reseat them. 
  • It is a possibility that these fuses were seated about 1/16” outwards when they came from the factory. Hence they need to be pushed in further.

Ram 3500 Harsh Ride Quality

  • Generally harsh ride quality especially in the unladen condition (without a payload on the bed)
  • Potholes are felt harsh by the driver even though there is air suspension to assist the rear leaf spring

Troubleshooting Ram 3500 Harsh Ride Quality

  • The intention of adding air springs to the Ram 3500 rear leaf springs was to maintain ride height at high payloads
  • Leaf Springs, or any steel springs for that matter, sag proportionate to the increase in payload
  • The leaf springs, therefore, need more camber at normal ride height in order to avoid excessive sagging at higher loads. In effect, the vehicle ends up sitting very high when it is not loaded.
  • The Air suspension’s biggest advantage is that it can maintain a constant ride height using variation in air pressure
  • The air suspension is, in effect, a parallel spring to the leaf spring on the Ram 3500.
  • Parallel Springs add up in stiffness. Hence, adding air springs to leaf springs increases the effective stiffness.
  • So it goes without saying that adding air springs, however soft they may be, will increase the suspension overall stiffness. 
  • Therefore the ride quality of leaf springs deteriorates with the addition of parallel air springs

Possible Remedies for Harsh Ride Quality in Ram 3500

  • Springs in series will reduce the overall stiffness drastically. A leaf spring in series with an air spring is a solution for the harsh ride problem. But this approach has the serious disadvantage of not being able to control suspension height, which is a basic requirement for the Ram 3500
  • The best solution would be to have a completely new 4-link Air suspension axle to replace the factory axle. With a standalone air spring, the ride height as well as suspension stiffness can be better engineered. For this, several aftermarket solutions are available

Ride Height self-adjustment Failure

The Ram Active-Level System sometimes fails to self-adjust. The RAM 2500/3500 come with a levelling system to maintain rear ride height. ‘Normal Ride Height’ (NRH) is the standard position. ‘Alternate Trailer Height’ lowers the suspension by 1 inch to assist in loading.

For a normally functioning system, the light blinks during ride height lowering adjustment.

If the system is not functioning properly, the system does not respond and stays at a constant height. 

Troubleshooting Ride Height self-adjustment Failure

  • The Air Spring might have internally gotten damaged or distorted inside the sleeve and therefore is unable to inflate itself under pressure.
  • If there was a lift kit installed, it might have caused damage to your air suspension system. Historically, several RAM owners who installed aftermarket Lift-Kit solutions have reported Ride-Height Adjustment failure.
  • The 4th generation of Ram Trucks (2009 to 2018) is known to have reported more instances of this sort of Ride-Height Adjustment failure.

Conclusion

In this brief article we have discussed the Ram 3500 Air suspension issues, what causes these issues and Tips on how to deal with these issues effectively.

Leave a Comment